It was in the throes of those first few tumultuous months of my daughter’s life that I realized my offspring was destined to be an only child. I vividly remember holding my screaming baby, looking at my husband and asking, “How the hell did our friends do this and raise a toddler at the same time?” To this day I still don’t know how they accomplished such a feat.
Now that my daughter is two years old, people are beginning to ask that dreaded question of “so when are you going to start trying for baby number two?” Actually, they’ve been asking that question since before my first child was born (which is absolutely nuts given I had no idea whether I’d even enjoy being a mommy). But now that I have a toddler, I feel an increased sense of urgency being pushed on me by society to pump out another tiny human – and I have to tell you, it gives me anxiety!
Friends, family and acquaintances alike say: “Don’t you want your child to have someone to play with?” and “Don’t you want them to have a sibling to lean on when they grow up?” Well sure, both of those ideas sound great in theory, but there are so many other factors that play into my family’s decision to be in the “one and done” camp.
Here are my top 10 reasons for raising an only child:
1. Hubby and I are worn out.
My husband and I both work full-time outside of the home. By the time we get home, cook dinner and get our daughter in bed, we are exhausted. We’ll usually stare at our phones or the television for an hour before dragging our tired bodies to bed. We simply don’t have the energy to get up in the middle of the night to rock a screaming newborn for hours on end. That ship has sailed. I’m simply in awe of the people who can do this a second time around. They’re superheroes in their own right!
2. When I don’t sleep, things get ugly.
I’m sure you’re familiar with the gothic novel “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” right? Or at least the characters in the book? I’m essentially the friendly Dr. Henry Jekyll when I get at least seven hours of sleep. Anything less than that, and I turn into the downright disgraceful alternate personality of Mr. Edward Hyde. It ain’t pretty, folks. When my daughter was a newborn, I was so sleep deprived that at one point I just sobbed and asked my husband if we could take her back to the hospital. I was delirious from the lack of sleep. After a nap, I was fine, but I have no desire to go through that again. Plus I need as much energy as I can muster now to keep up with a very active two-year-old.
3. I want to have a hobby (besides my kid).
I’m warning you in advance that I’m going to say something extremely taboo – I want to have a life of my own outside of work and family. Some of you just fainted. Others of you are screaming “YEESSSS” at the top of your lungs in support. It is so ingrained in our society and cultural norms that women must take care of everyone and everything, never stopping to care for themselves. I don’t want to continue that practice in my own life. I love my family more than anything in this world, but I need time away from them to be my own person. Lately, this has taken the form of me exploring my spirituality and taking meditation classes. It’s been great, and I’ve learned just how important it is to give to myself and feed my soul. Plus, absence truly does make the heart grow fonder. I’m re-energized and excited to see my family after spending a few hours away from them.
4. Childcare costs are outrageous.
Every month, I shill out more than $1,000 for three-day-a-week toddler childcare in California. My husband and I are so lucky that our parents take turns watching our daughter the remaining two days a week. I honestly don’t think we could afford to add another child to our family because of how expensive childcare can be – especially infant care. I suppose it’s doable, but we’d have to cut out all the fun stuff like taking our daughter out to dinner or the zoo. There’d be a lot of scrimping and saving. That doesn’t sound like a fun existence to me, and I’m all about incorporating more fun into my life right now.
5. Don’t want to jinx it.
I’ve known plenty of people who’ve said their first child was so perfect that they were lured into a false sense of security about having another child. When that second child arrived with a completely different personality and a challenging attitude, the going got tough. Frankly, I’m not sure I have the patience for this type of life-jarring experience. And I don’t want to jinx the good thing I’ve got going on now by adding a curveball to my somewhat peaceful life.
6. I miss my husband.
I honestly can’t remember the last time my husband and I went out on a date, just us two. I know, I know, I need to remedy this issue before it becomes a problem. I miss connecting with him and talking to him about anything other than the cute new thing our toddler did that day. Adding another child to the mix would further compound this issue and make it even harder for us to be alone. My husband is an amazing man, and I want to have time alone to enjoy him – in more ways than one (wink, wink).
7. Saving for college is daunting.
I recently typed “how expensive is college” into the Google search engine. The monetary figures that stared back at me from my computer screen made my heart sink and my eyes widen. Some choice curse words may also have escaped my mouth. Higher education is beyond expensive. In fact, according to the College Board’s 2018 Trends in College Pricing Report, the average fees (including tuition and room and board) range from $21,370/year at a public, four-year, in-state college to $48,510/year at a private, four-year college. That’s more money than many people make in a year! So, I’m starting my child’s college fund early. I want my daughter to be able to go to college or a trade school if she wishes. Given how expensive it is, I’m pretty sure we could only do this for one child.
8. Dreaming of family vacations.
While still trying to save for my child’s college education (not to mention my own retirement), I’d like to set aside some funds for a couple of incredible family vacations. My husband wants to take our daughter to the East Coast where she can explore the Smithsonian museums and our nation’s history. I want to take her overseas to explore different cultures and customs. Luckily, these are trips we likely wouldn’t make until she was a teenager anyway, so we have lots of time to feed our piggybank. Since travel is so expensive, it would obviously be a lot cheaper and more feasible to do with only one child in tow.
9. I loved being an only child.
Family lore says I made my wishes known from an early age that I wanted to be an only child. I must have known that I had a fantastic imagination that was enhanced by my ability to play alone. I was able to have a ton of different kinds of pets growing up, including fish, turtles, dogs, cats, hamsters, frogs, snakes, geckos and rabbits. I never had to share a room. I got all my parents’ attention to myself. I was able to take singing lessons and participate in summer programs. Yes, I was able to be a bit greedy, spoiled and self-centered. All of these opportunities allowed me to flourish and grow into the person that I am today.
10. There are no guarantees.
As I’ve grown older and had to deal with the deaths of beloved family members, I’ve sometimes wished for a brother or sister to share my grief with. But then I remind myself that there are no guarantees I would be close to or even like my siblings. My husband comes from a family of three children, and he’s not particularly close to his siblings. You just never know what you’re going to get.
So, those are the main reasons my husband and I have chosen to keep our family just to us three – the Three Musketeers as we call ourselves. While this is right path for us, it is by no means the right choice for everyone. I’ve known plenty of large families that have sailed through some of the perceived hurdles I’ve outlined above without any issues. It’s all about what works best for you, but if you’re looking for someone to support your “one and done” decision, I’ve got your back.