Brotherly Bonding Despite an Age Gap by Sharon O’Donnell


(David, 26; Jason, 20; and Bill, 29 at a recent Carolina Hurricanes hockey game.)

I remember when I was pregnant with my third son, knowing he would be nine years younger than my oldest son and six years younger than my middle son, and I worried about the age gap. Would they still be close?  Would they still create memories together and bond, despite the oldest would be in high school when the youngest started kindergarten?  When they were growing up, the oldest two looked out for the youngest but also often picked on him.  At one point when Jason, my youngest, was in 4th through 8th grade, his brothers were in a school and college with a different calendar than his schools, and so I sometimes took Jason and one of his friends on brief vacations because my other sons couldn’t go. Since Jason had a late-in-the-year birthday, I decided to hold him back and start kindergarten one year later. This meant that there was a 10-year age gap in school between Jason and my oldest, Bill. There were some chaotic nights of homework at our house as the work ranged from addition facts to Calculus. But as the years have passed, the gap seems to have lessened.

There were some challenges along the way, but I am happy to say that now at the ages of 29, 26, and 20, my ‘boys’ enjoy doing things and going places together. Yes, I might have been an older mom the third time around, but in the end, the age gap didn’t detrimentally affect the bond my boys share. When David, our middle son gets married in October, his brothers will both be his best men. I’m sure it will be emotional for me – one of those days I’ve daydreamed about over the past several decades. When our beloved dog passed away in August of 2020 after spending almost 16 years as a vital part of our family, we all grieved together as we saw the cycle of life in an up-close and heart-wrenching fashion. The hardest part was seeing my boys grieve with each other and sob in each other’s arms. But together they learned an important and real lesson about resiliency. They became closer during that grieving process and in the continued shared memories of our sweet Fenway.

My boys all still talk and text on our family chat a lot about sports and their favorite teams. They laugh and joke – and, yes, still tease (especially the oldest teasing the youngest).  It’s clear that they love each other. An age gap can’t touch that.

So here is a photo of my sons at a recent Carolina Hurricanes hockey game. However, note that soon after this photo was taken, my youngest son switched seats so he would not longer be beside my oldest son who was doing some goodnatured teasing of his youngest brother. My heart is full when I look at this picture because this – this is what I was working toward and praying for during all those years as a mom.

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