When it comes to planning pregnancies, many parents choose to have their kids in pretty quick succession in order to have a small age gap. According to data from the CDC, more than half of siblings born in recent years have an age gap of between 18 months (1.5 years) and 59 months (4.91 years). But for Alanis Morissette, it just didn't work out that way.
Speaking on Dax Shepard's podcast, Armchair Expert, Morissette addressed the age gap and how it may not seem ideal, explaining she had "a bunch of miscarriages" between her children (9-year-old son Ever, 3-year-old daughter Onyx and 10-month old baby boy Winter).
Of course, miscarriages are devastating when you want to be pregnant, but unfortunately they happen to so many people. About 10 to 15% of known pregnancies end in miscarriage and 1 in 100 women will experience a repeat miscarriage. It's so hard to lose one pregnancy after another, as Morisette explains: "We were chasing and just showing up and then [experiencing the] surprises and then devastations and all of it."
But she kept holding on to hope: "I'm an optimist who will get depressed and cry, but at the end of the day, there's still that little light, that little star of Bethlehem keeps dangling over there."
And while Morissette and her husband, rapper Mario "Souleye" Treadway, didn't have kids back-to-back, their family dynamics do come with some unexpected bonuses.
According to a 2011 study out of the University of Notre Dame, a gap of at least two years between children is linked to better academic outcomes for the older siblings. Welcoming a baby when your older children are already school-aged means the older child benefits from additional one-on-one time with their parents as a toddler and preschooler, and when older siblings do well, there's a "spillover effect" and the younger siblings emulate the older ones.
Because Morissette does child-led education with her kids (also known as unschooling) that time has been welcomed.
"It's a major commitment," she told Health of unschooling. Explaining that child-led education has meant that her kids come up with questions 24/7.
"I'm constantly watching their eyes and what they're pulled toward, and then we do the deep dive. My husband and I create pods all over the house—here's where the spelling area is, and here's where the fake animals are. There's probably a better definition of unschooling, but there's no rigidity to it."
The unique dynamics of a six year age gap followed by a two year age gap have worked really well for Morissette and Tredway, even if the timing of her pregnancies wasn't what she first thought it would be.
The truth is, there is no "perfect" age gap. Every family is unique and your kids will have a unique bond with each other and with you no matter how many years there are between them.