Mind the Gap

tantrumsA small gap between teeth can be really pretty. Small gaps in salaries between men and women on the same level in the same organisation are good. Small gaps in sections of a railway are important to allow for rails to expand as a train runs on it. A small gap between you and your loved one on the couch is excellent. And the small gap between neurons (the synapse) is essential.

I have a 14 month gap between my two little people. 14 Months and 2 weeks to be exact. I remember being very pregnant at the mall with my oldest on my hip and getting sympathy stares from people. Many approached me to offer condolences or some kind of advice. Most of them, to be frank, just tried to scare me. Today my youngest is 13 months old and I can honestly say that, looking back, this gap is perfect for my zoo. But let me tell you the whole story, in highlights….

When my son was 5 months old my dog Beast started acting strange around me. My husband and I were invited to the Durban July and since I was planning on throwing copious amounts of cocktails down my throat, I decided to do a test just to be responsible. As I’ve told many friends, I nearly fell off the toilet when that second line showed up. We were in shock. You must know that my son suffered from reflux and at this stage he was waking on average 8 times a night. My poor husband drowned himself in free cocktails for the remainder of the day, he at least now had a designated driver. Score!? I stared wide-eyed into space and wondered how I would ever cope. I cried, a lot, in the week to come. Man tears of desperation.

Fast forward to being visibly pregnant – we soon made peace with the small gap and realised what a blessing it really is. But now challenging logistics came into play. Even though my son could walk, he still preferred to be carried. We have 21 stairs leading up into our house. Getting him in and out of the bath when my husband worked late was quite a feat, slippery bodies with big belly in the way. If I had the energy I would have patted myself on the back. I used to walk in the park after work every day, carrying my son the whole way. I have a group of geriatrics I meet with there. Really they have become such good friends (and they know all the Durban skinder). They always tried to help, but mostly I ended up heaving around the field, big in front with a monkey hanging onto me. In hindsight I believe this made me fit and strong and helped with the labour of my second.

Earlier this week my daughter dared touch my son’s shoes. Not just any shoes, but cute little brown Crocs that my husband bought him. He loves those shoes in a way that almost worries me. As she stood touching it, examining it, his face went all red. He bit down on his teeth out of pure frustration and then proceeded to upturn his cup of juice all over the couch. I guess it was better than kicking her in the face – something he does about ten times a day. So these are the challenges; the fighting and the tantrums start way earlier than you would expect and they require the kind of patience usually reserved for professional chess. Also the sleep deprivation is insane, at levels of human torture, something that makes a relatively calm person shout at car guards. Something that cannot be explained.

But this morning all three of us were jumping on the bed. And laughing and tickling and I could see the love between them. And I could see what a strong bond they will have one day. And this makes me unbelievably happy.

I have come to the conclusion that every gap has its challenges. You just need to decide what is best for your zoo.