The sentiment had popped in and out throughout my pregnancy, as the physical and emotional stresses made me question what in the world I was doing to myself. Where was the glow I was promised? Instead, the further along I got, the more I adopted the disposition and sweatiness of your least favorite PE teacher. I thought, “How do people go through this more than once? Do they hate themselves?”
I always thought I wanted to have two kids. I have a wonderful relationship with my younger brother (even though he’s too cool to be my pal), and my husband has an equally close kinship with his sister. All my friends growing up had siblings, too – I just assumed it was a BOGO for parents.
But, as my due date came and went, I felt my very first mom guilt. We were driving home from my first inducement appointment, and I was cranking Bing Crosby Christmas carols to calm myself after being told I wasn’t ready to go into labor. I realized, with sudden and perfect clarity, that I hated being pregnant. Not in that fun, relatable way – I realized that I had hated every moment of the last nine months.
Guilt poured over me – what maternal instinct was I missing, to so dislike something so fundamentally female? Was this how motherhood was going to feel?
Then I got even more mad, feeling cheated that the dreaded mom guilt had started, and I hadn’t even gotten a baby from the deal yet. I thought to myself, “I don’t know if I can do this again,” and then felt guilty about that too.
But pooping on the table was the first moment I thought, “I won’t do this shit ever again.”
And you know what? As much as I love my son, I haven’t wavered from that decision.
Sure, there are times when the mom guilt kicks in and I worry that I’m depriving my son, but overwhelmingly I feel daily validation in our decision to only have one child. Everyone’s family dynamic is different, and the decision of whether to have multiples is entirely up to yours – being one and done is just 100% the right call for mine.
1. I couldn’t emotionally handle another kid.
I struggled with depression and anxiety before I had kids, so I knew I would be at risk for postpartum depression. Still, I was blown away by its effects, and hated myself and all my missteps during my son’s first two years of life.
Motherhood has not come easy to me, and I spend most of the time convinced that I’m somehow screwing up. Still, the compliment we most frequently get about our child is that he is the happiest kid, so we can’t be messing him up too bad. I cling to that sentiment when the mom guilt becomes overwhelming, and I’m grateful for all the moms out there who act as each other’s cheerleaders.
I’ve lived with mental illness long enough to know my limitations. I have a finite amount of emotional energy, and most of that is spent on my son. I hardly have anything left to spend on myself, let alone on another 100% dependent tiny human.
I am a better mom when I am happy, and I am happy with one child.
2. The knowledge helps get me through the tough times.
My husband coached me through labor with cheers of “just one more push!” I latched on to that encouragement and, with each push, I thought, “And you’ll never have to go through this again.” At the time, I was just trying to think of anything to get through labor, but it’s a sentiment I’ve used as a mom to get me through those tough parenting stages.
Right now, I hate feeding my three-year-old. I hate preparing meals that I know he won’t eat, and I know we’re just going to end up in the McDonald’s drive through anyway.
I cope by reminding myself, “you only have to go through this phase one time.” It’s a promise I’ve made to help keep me present, rather than spiraling off onto anxious tangents. Be here, trying your best in this moment, because it is impermanent – I won’t ever have to relive this stage, because we’re only having one kid. Just one more push.
Plus, he’ll eat something other than chicken nuggets eventually.
3. We can afford to give one kid a pretty great life.
My husband is in the Army and I work part-time, so it’s not like we’re swimming in money. Still, we are lucky to have enough to live a life that is uniquely ours, and we budget our time and finances accordingly.
We can afford to sign one child up for skating lessons. We can both attend his soccer games on the weekends. He won’t have the best or newest toys, but he won’t want for anything, and we’ll both always be there.
We couldn’t afford to continue living the life we like if we were to have another kid. The additional time and financial commitment of another kid would drastically alter our lifestyle, and if it ain’t broke, why fix it?
4. I know that I’m not alone.
I’m lucky to have a partner with whom I am on the same page about parenting. I have a phenomenal support system of friends and family who have never shamed us for our decision to only have one child. Any judgment I have received has been from strangers, but who cares what they think?
The one child family is the fastest growing family unit in the US, so why do we act like it’s such a taboo option? If you don’t have a supportive direct network, check out the subreddits r/oneanddone and r/breakingmom to hear from other real families who have made the same choice.
Ultimately, designing your ideal family unit is a choice only you can make. After all, you’re the one who has to live your life. I know, unequivocally, that being one and done is the right choice for us, and I don’t give a shit if you disagree. The next time I poop on a table will be on my deathbed.
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