I am forty-three. That’s important. Not because forty is the new thirty, but because I have a three-year-old. While it is not entirely uncommon for a woman my age to have a toddler, it’s still not exactly mainstream. When people see me out with Tot, I can read the question forming in their minds. Most are polite enough not to ask it.
Sometimes they do. I remember one time clearly. I was following behind Tot while he explored the halls of the local 4H building. A janitor smiled in the way all people do when they see a little one setting out to conquer the world on wobbly legs. The gentleman, somewhere in his sixties, asked, “Is he your grandson? I have one about that age.”
I wasn’t angry. There are a lot of grandparents out there in their forties. As I said, most people are polite enough not to ask that question, even though I know they’re attempting to define my role in Tot’s life.
When people see that I also have a teenager, politeness leaves. The questions usually go like this:
“How many other children do you have?”
“Did you have trouble conceiving?”
“Was he a surprise baby?”
Again, the questions don’t make me mad. People are inquisitive creatures, and I understand that my scenario isn’t exactly normal.
So for everyone’s edification, here goes. Yes, Tot is mine. He and Teen are my only children. Yes, thirteen years it is quite a wide gap. Yes, they have the same father. We’ve been married going on twenty-one years. For reasons that aren’t important, we thought we only wanted one child. Then as we neared our forties, we changed our minds. I didn’t take us any longer to conceive him than anyone else our age. So, Tot wasn’t a surprise.
When people find out that I homeschool Teen, one more question follows.
“Will you homeschool Tot?”
I admit I had to laugh one day when I realized that I would graduate one child only to start the entire process over again with kindergarten the next year. It sounds a little exhausting. However in my mind, the entire homeschooling journey with Teen has been one long test run. Next time around with Tot, it will be a breeze. Right?
So to sum up. This thirteen year gap that I have to straddle with parenting and schooling. Yes, I did it on purpose.