The Agony and the Ecstasy of Two Under Two

The pros and cons of the two-year age gap.

young siblings hugging

I once met a woman at the children's museum who said, "A girl, and a boy, two years apart! Good job, mama!" as if I'd won some contest I didn't know I'd entered. It's true that with an uncharacteristic precision, I even had the same due date for each of them. It is a tidy little age difference, and it's wonderful...except when it's not.

Five Wonderful Things About the Two (or Less)-Year Age Gap

1. They Form a Team

My 4-year-old girl and 2-year-old boy could not be more different personality-wise, but they also can't imagine life without each other. My daughter places her brother in all her memories ("Remember when we were both newborn babies?") and future plans ("When we are grownups in our own apartment we're not going to listen to your rules!")

2. They Can Share Activities

I attribute some of my kids' team-player-attitudes to the many experiences they share: they take the same music classes, go to the same storytimes. They could both feed the goats at the zoo until those poor goats exploded. They'll go to school together. Heck, they even share a room. I don't know how well that would work if they were, say, 4 or 5 years apart.

3. The Older One Never Knows What Hit Them

My daughter doesn't remember how awesome her life was when she was an only child, and I'm not about to remind her.

4. Your Life Recovers More Quickly

If you're stepping out of the workforce to stay home while your kids are little, you can get back into the swing of things in 5 or 6 years without missing any of those first words.

5. You Stay in the Sh*t

When my son was born, my neighbor whose kids are 4 years apart, remarked eloquently, "You're smart. You're in the sh*t right now, and you don't even know it, because you're just staying in the sh*t." I thought he meant literally, as in diapers, but now that I don't have any babies, I get it. You just don't realize how insane your life is when you have a two-year-old and an infant, because you've never had a kid who's a kid, who goes to school, who uses the potty, who sleeps reliably through the night, who entertains herself. You don't even know how good it gets.

Five Not-So-Wonderful Things About the Two (or Less)-Year Age Gap

1. You Stay in the Sh*t

Literally. Those first few months I practically had carpal tunnel syndrome from changing so many diapers. Two in diapers is no joke on the psyche OR the wallet.

2. Kindergarten is Light Years Away

It's lovely to moon about staring into your newborn's eyes, but when you are also chasing a toddler, you hardly ever actually get to look at that snoozy second. There's something to be said for the idea of having one kid in school during the day before you have another; I'm sure you get more QT with your new cutie.

3. Twin Tantrums

Two-year-olds are famous for their tantrums. So are four-year-olds. The results are often thunderous.

4. Your Body is Not Your Own

I just spent the past 4+ years pregnant, nursing, pregnant, nursing, without a break. I'm currently enjoying having no beings that depend on my physical form for sustenance.

5. Overlapping Expensive Years

Private preschool is expensive. Two private preschool tuitions is mind-blowing. Likewise for orthodontia. Oh, and college. But I'm not too worried about it, since my daughter tells me she and her brother will always live with us, and will ride their scooters to college together, and then go out for cupcakes afterwards. After all, they're a team.

Read More: The 10 Most Practical Pieces of Parenting Advice No One Tells You.