When there is a huge age gap between siblings, the older sibling often gets mistaken for a younger sibling’s mother.
If you have a sibling who is much younger than you, then you know this struggle.
Due to the rise of divorce and second marriages, plus IVF treatments allowing mothers to give birth later, the average age gap between siblings in Britain has risen. Parents now leaving an average of three years and eight months between their children.
Here are four sets of siblings with a huge age gap who explain how awkward it is to get mistaken for your sibling’s mother.
Elizabeth Dhokia and her sister, Annabelle
Elizabeth Dhokia, 35, is a lifestyle blogger and social media trainer, living in Birmingham. She has a brother, Alex, 33, and three sisters — Jessica, 18, Charlotte, 14, and Annabelle, 11.
‘Annabelle is my mum’s youngest daughter, but it’s a common assumption when we’re out together that she’s mine, which is unsurprising, given the 24-year age gap.’
‘My parents — Mum is a special educational needs consultant, and Dad is a complaints handler in the energy industry — were both 20 when they had me and they separated when I was six.’
‘Then, in 2002, Mum, now in her 50s, married my stepdad Sean, an architect who’s eight years younger and didn’t have children of his own.’
‘When they told us they were expecting a baby, I was so excited. Mum took me along for her hospital consultations and I was at the 20-week scan when we found out she was having a girl.’
‘After Charlotte was born, I spent the university summer holiday at home in Worcestershire and loved helping with night feeds and settling my baby sister to sleep.’
‘By the time Annabelle came along three years later, I was working in London and I booked the week off to look after Charlotte while Mum was in the hospital.’
‘During those early years I adored taking Annabelle out for walks in her pushchair and to cafes, where all the assistants would make comments such as: ‘Oh, is Mummy buying you hot chocolate with marshmallows today?’
Bethany Wing And her sisters Thia and Molly
Bethany Wing, 20, is a marketing assistant for a healthcare recruitment agency, living in Essex with her father, Dominic, 46, a training manager, and stepmum Marie, 36, a stay-at-home mum, and their daughters, Thia, four, and Molly, two.
‘There have been countless times when I’ve been playing with Thia and Molly at the park and strangers have mistaken me for their mummy because of the age gap between us.’
‘Although I don’t mind, because I adore my little half-sisters, occasionally I get dirty looks, too, mainly from older people who assume I’m a gymslip mum with two kids under five.’
‘The only downside to the huge age gaps between the three of us is that after getting up early for work all week, I’d love to have a lie-in at weekends.’
‘But with two toddlers in the house it’s impossible!’
Jasmine Carney and her sister Jana
Jasmine Carney, 24, is a nurse who lives in Cheshire with her parents Jacquie, 48, a national sales manager, John, 50, a company MD, two brothers aged 22 and 18, and little sister Jana, 11.
‘Mum was buttering toast in the kitchen one day when she announced to my brother, John, and me that she was pregnant.’
‘I was 13 and he was 11 and we just laughed and said: ‘Good joke Mum!’’
‘Poor Jana, I used to take her everywhere in her pram and dress her up in princess clothes, and people have often thought that she’s my daughter.’
‘It’s also happened when we’ve been at horse shows and even once when the two of us were in the local Chinese takeaway and the lady behind the counter commented: ‘Aren’t you gorgeous, you look just like your mummy!’’
Lynn Schwentke and her sister Jaimie
Lynn Schwentke, 35, is a full-time carer for her mother, and lives in Kent with her two sons, aged 14 and three. Lynn’s sister Jaimie, 21, a chef, lives nearby.
‘My sister’s birth was one of the best days of my life. My parents allowed me to go to the hospital where I watched Jaimie being born and even cut the cord.’
‘The following day, Mum and I went shopping with her in the pram and when a lady stopped to look at the baby I told her all about the birth. She looked puzzled and said: ‘Aren’t you a bit young to be a mummy?’’
‘But after Mum, who’s now 56, broke her back falling down the stairs 11 years ago, I had to take on a surrogate mother role for Jaimie, who was only ten at the time.’
‘While Dad, a project manager, was busy working, I did the school runs, attended parents’ evenings and ferried Jaimie around to various activities.’
Well, they are not the only ones. There are countless siblings with a huge age gap who face this struggle or awkward situations every now and then. Are you too one of them?