It feels like before the ink is dry on your baby’s birth certificate, people are asking you when the next one is coming along. You’re sitting there thinking, “Geez, let my body recover from the first one before you start wishing the second one on me will you?”
And also, “How about mind your damn business?”
Multiple children have always been the norm for most families. I understand that, and I support that (if that’s your choice).
But me? I’m an only child, and I have an only child, and I can’t imagine it any other way.
Okay, so technically, I’m not an only child (I have a couple half-siblings who are much older), but I was raised as an only child. I remember my parents asking me if I wanted a younger sibling, and I always wanted a brother. Repeatedly they’d have to explain to me that we have to take whatever we get home and so it was a hard pass on my part. And even though I may have been disappointed at the time, ultimately it was the best thing that would ever happen to me, in my opinion.
Being an only child allowed me the freedom to do pretty much all of the things I wanted to growing up. Because I never had to share the spotlight, or more importantly, my parents limited money.
Because my parents only had me, I got to take as many dance classes as they could afford (and those weren’t cheap.) I was able to have all the toys I wanted, which seems really ridiculous, but as a kid felt like a huge perk. As a teenager, when I was obsessed with boy bands, I was able to see pretty much every one I wanted if they came through my town. When it came time to go to college, I was able to go away to the school I wanted because my parents didn’t have anyone else to pay for.
That being said, I always thought I would have multiple children. Growing up as an only child was amazing, but there were definitely times when it got lonely. I didn’t want my kid to have those same feelings. But as we all know too well, life happens and plans change.
My son is my favorite person ever, but the first couple years of his life were not easy, and they definitely affected my desire to have more children. He was a generally good baby, but he was (and still is) a high needs child. This meant that he needed me all the time and had very big feelings about all the things.
And then on top of that, he slept like shit, which meant that not only was I constantly touched out, but I was tired as fuck. Not the most ideal lifestyle to bring another kid into.
Full disclosure: I’m a single mom now, but in today’s day and age that isn’t a deterrent from having another child, if I really wanted to. But I don’t want to. I love watching my boy grow and having us go through life as just the two of us. We have a very special bond. Plus, much like I felt at that age, he has no interest in bringing another kid into our lives and changing the dynamic we’ve built.
Recently, we were sitting at the bus stop and a very well meaning older woman saw him playing and said, “He needs a brother.” Once I stabilized my blood pressure, I politely told her that not every child needs a sibling to have a happy life. I also let her know that I grew up alone and it was actually the greatest thing my parents could have done for me.
You don’t need to have multiple children to somehow prove yourself as a parent. As much as I love my son, he wears me out. Some days, he’s wild enough to make me feel like I have five kids. Therefore, I couldn’t imagine actually having another kid. I can be the parent I want to be because I only have one kid. I can give him all the love and attention he needs and not feel like I’m stretching myself too thin between him and my other responsibilities.
Plus, multiple children are really fucking expensive. I mean, just having one is a lot. And he’s getting to the age where he may want to play a sport, or take dance lessons or some other activity that costs me money. Having to pay for him and another kid to each do even one activity would bankrupt me with how expensive extracurricular activities are getting.
How many kids you choose to have is a deeply personal decision for parents to make. So many things factor into their decision, and the reasons why are theirs and theirs alone. Honestly, there’s nothing more frustrating for a parent of an only child to hear that they aren’t a “real” parent because they only have one kid. Or that they have it easy because they don’t have to juggle more than one kid at a time. Our jobs are hard and rewarding too, even if our journey looks different.
No, we won’t likely change our minds about expanding our family. And our kids will be just fine without a sibling.