07 Oct 2010

Only Child

10 Comments Family

I’ve recently come to the realization that I’m too old and tired to have another kid.  Of course, there’s another voice inside my head that says not having another one is a bad, bad idea.  There’s always been a stigma attached to being an “only child”, but there’s no label given to those with siblings other than “brother” or “sister’.   My husband and I started late because we weren’t ready one minute before we were ready. So I got pregnant at 35 and pretty quickly realized that I was going to be exhausted for the rest of my life. As tired as I am, I love being a mom more than anything in the world. Garrett enriches my life in ways I can’t even explain, and I hope I’m making his life incredibly fun, while instilling all the values and goodness in him that I can.

Of course, once you have one kid, the inevitable and constant question is, “When are you having another?” Well, I don’t believe we’re going to. I just don’t think I have the kind of stamina and patience one needs to have two kids. I want to be able to give Garrett everything he needs and still have enough energy left over to crawl into bed at the end of the day. It makes me sad for him sometimes, and also sad for us. But I know my limits and I also know the limits of my marriage and my wallet. I don’t want to stretch any of us too thin.

Now, I happen to be friends with several only children who are very well adjusted and quite happy. The only thing they seem to lack is the ability to defend themselves when they’re being teased. This is a skill that can only be honed as a child with a sibling who relentlessly jabs at you. So we’re planning to hire some neighborhood kids to tell Garrett he’s a weenie and sock him a few times. Maybe even pin him down and fart in his face. I hope it works.

A lot of people have brought up that it might be cruel to leave Garrett “alone in this world”. Well, we’re all alone, aren’t we? And not everyone likes their siblings. Sometimes it’s better to be alone than have a blood-relative who sucks the life out of you every Thanksgiving. I love my brother, but there are times I want to jab him in the eye with a shrimp fork. And yes, I’m glad I have him around for support. We held each other up when my father passed away, we share a common worry for my mom and a bond because only he and I know what it was like to grow up in our home. We even share a lot of laughs. But if you don’t have that you can’t miss it, right? Garrett will be spared hours of fighting and back-seat torture. But he’ll also never get to wake up on a Saturday morning to watch cartoons and eat cereal with his brother or sister. These are the things I think about.

I’ve talked to one of my friends about buying houses next door to each other and raising our kids as siblings. Then they’d head back to they’re own homes at the end of the night, and get tucked into their own beds. They’d share toys, but always keep their own. If they fought, they’d be banished to their house. It’d be all of the benefits and none of the crap. Plus, we’d have built-in babysitters and we could trade off date nights!

I’m terrified that I’m depriving Garrett of something special by not having a second kid, but I’m even more scared of depriving him of ME if we were to have a second. I know we can raise him exactly the way we want to if we keep things the way they are. I hope that we’re enough for him, because he’s certainly enough for us. And apparently the numbers of only children have risen considerably in the last forty years, so we’re not the only ones.

Here’s an article that says the “only child syndrome” is just a myth:

Here’s a Time magazine article on the topic:

And there’s even an entire site devoted to only children!

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written by
Lisa Arch likes being a working actress... but LOVES being a Mom!
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10 Responses to “Only Child”

  1. Reply Meri says:

    I had my 7 month old at 36, and we stand someplace similar to where you stand. We haven’t made a decision yet, but we are about 50/50 on having another baby. I, too, have friends of only children who are perfectly well adjusted. The most well-adjusted of them befriended the boy next door, another only child, and they are still best friends, even now that they are both married and raising their own kids. Their parents still live side-by-side.

    The thing is that there are benefits and drawbacks to either decision. Having a sibling is wonderful…and makes you crazy. Having the full force of two parents behind you can give a kid a wonderfully beneficial start…or cause the child to be smothered and stunted. It sort of depends on the way the parents do their job as parents. You can’t have all the pluses and none of the minuses, because like everything else in life, it is about choosing one thing over another. You don’t get to select “all of the above” in real life. Well, not often, anyhow.

    I personally think that having kids is one of the biggest and most obvious ways we can make our mark on this world, and I would rather do a really great job raising my son as a whole, sane, healthy Mom than have another baby just for the sake of a concept, and become some kind of constantly bitter, exhausted and broken Mom.

    I don’t know what I am going to feel like in a few years when I would be willing to consider getting pregnant again. I am not ready to make a decision right now when he can’t quite be counted on to sleep through the night. I do have the strangest feeling, though, that a few years down the road when we seriously consider having another one, if the answer is no, I will feel much better about that choice than I ever anticipated I would.

  2. Reply flawlessmom says:

    Wow. Thank you so much for sharing that. There are so many moments in a day where I think, “I want to do this again!” But those are the moments where I forget all the work and struggle that goes into it. Of course, we forget that because it’s so worth it. And because one smile or laugh or question from your kid makes you remember that being a Mom is the greatest gift in the world. I still can’t say 100% that we’re done. But I’m at 99% now. I just hope Garrett isn’t mad at us for the choice. Ah, heck. He’ll be mad about something… It might as well be that!

    • Reply Meri says:

      Garrett will pick his own things to be mad about with you, and they will change over time. Whatever they will be, chances are they aren’t ones you could have thought of. I think it is just part of the human condition to be curious and sometimes desire whatever you didn’t get. I always wonder if that is part of the allure of “The Price is Right” in that you get to see what was behind doors number 2 and 3, whether that is good news or bad! He will find his best friends, his spouse, his brothers and sisters in arms, and he may discover he doesn’t care a whit that they aren’t biologically related. He won’t be alone. You said it yourself: Having a sibling doesn’t guarantee you won’t be alone. My mother has two brothers, and one is dead and the other one won’t associate with her for his own silly reasons. She’s built her own little family of friends, and whether Garrett has no siblings, one, or seven, he’d probably be building his own family of friends too!

      • Reply flawlessmom says:

        So right, Meri!! Even though I’m very close to my own family, I’ve built a family of friends I adore. I know Garrett will do the same. Very well said.

  3. Reply Tracy K. says:

    Ok, I’m just going to say a few things about my experience, but it is not a judgment on whatever you decide.

    1) I was never more afraid of anything than I was of the work and exhaustion that it would be to have a second child. I didn’t think I could handle it – I didn’t think I was capable of dealing with two at once and I didn’t think I would ever have enough energy to do it. I was TOTALLY WRONG! You just learn to manage both. And I, like you, am blessed with an amazing, supportive and hands on husband. Yes, its more work (sometimes more than twice the work, although I have to say, the toddler is more exhausting than the infant), but in MANY ways its easier too because we have Brandon to entertain Leah and vice versa. Especially now that they are getting to the point where they can play TOGETHER, its even easier because they are occupied. When it was just Brandon, he constantly looked to us to be his playmates, but now, he has a live in playmate. And I know that will only get better as Leah gets a little older and able to play even more.

    2) NOTHING teachs a person that they are not the only person in the world faster than a sibling. For me, it was an important lesson I wanted Brandon to learn. It was horrific and wonderful to see him learn it. (By the way, it was MUCH harder on me to watch than for him to go through). And now, NOTHING beats knowing that he LOVES her sooo much (and vice versa). She’s the first person he asks about when he wakes up, when I pick him up from school, whenever she’s not around. He loves her and he’s her hero. I could absolutely burst into tears everytime he hugs and kisses her or he says “Hi Leah” with a smile on his face, in his sweet, little voice.

    3) I couldn’t imagine my life without my brother. Growing up (when he wasn’t beatin the crap out of me) he was my friend when I had none and my protector when I needed one. He’s the only person in the world who knows what it means to grow up with my parents, who has shared memories about everyone I love, and the only person in the world (other than my parents) that I know I can count on without question (Aaron is 99.999999999999%, but there is always that miniscule part that you can’t be sure of with a spouse).

    4) I always knew I wanted at least two, but my husband wasn’t so sure. I said two things to him. 1) Isn’t having Brandon worth every second of sleep lost and every hour of exhaustion felt? and 2) If we don’t have a second, we might regret it later, but if we do have a second, we’ll never regret it.

    I’m truly NOT saying what you should do, the choice is absolutely one a person has to make for themselves. I just wanted to share my thoughts on my experience because having a second was one of the two best decisions I’ve ever made.

    • Reply flawlessmom says:

      Do me a favor, lady. Stop making so much sense! I totally hear you, loud and clear. And I believe every single one of your statements. You just articulated every one of the reasons I’m sad about having only one. But, then again, you never know what you’re going to get the second time around! And, since my first has been so easy and good (knock on wood. thank God. etc.), I think we might go with the “quit while you’re ahead” strategy. Yeah. That sounds about right.
      Seriously and deeply appreciate your post. Thank you.

  4. Reply Christine says:

    Kate is an only child. I was 31 when I had her. I was horrible at being pregnant. I bitched and whined and complained. I was worse at childbirth. It was torture. I cried and puked my way through it. I was not a great baby mama, either. I had wicked post partum depression and kept her as close to me as a kangaroo momma keeps her baby in her pouch. I thought that I never wanted another baby ever. Then, when Kate was around 6 I realized I was a damn good mother. I was 37 years old. And just as I began to wonder if I should do it again, fate stepped in and bitch slapped me with cervical cancer. So here I sit, 41 years old, missing my uterus and any other baby that I could have had. But, I know in my heart of hearts that I was only meant to have Kate. She is smart and strong and beautiful. She doesn’t take any crap from anyone. (I strongly recommend some form if karate. Kate will be a black belt in just a few years). She is my blessing, my reason for
    breathing, my heart and my life. And being an only child does not make her a lonely child. She is popular and involved in many activities. I am truly happy with our little family. Having one child may not be right for everyone, but it is absolutely right for us.

  5. Reply Lana says:

    Your Marriage is like another child that needs to be nurtured just as much as a “real” child. I think we forget that in this wonderfully crazy Parenting time. A living, breathing, marriage of deep love between his parents is the best “gift” you can give Garrett. And, that takes TIME and ENERGY. Bravo, Lady xxx

    • Reply flawlessmom says:

      Bless you for saying that!! Can’t tell you how many people lately are on our case about having another.
      It’s not easy to hear, because it’s not an easy decision to make. I appreciate the support. 😉 xoxo

  6. Reply I’m the Baby! says:

    […] marriage, and for our son. But all of a sudden I’m having a rough time with it.  I realize I posted about this before, but it feels new again. I watch G play alone with his toys, which he LOVES DOING by the […]

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