My only child just turned 1, and once the Pinterest-inspired party, cake smashing, and an excessive amount of visual documentation was complete, my husband and I quietly patted each other on the back and congratulated ourselves on keeping this little person alive for 365 days – in a row!
What we didn’t realize is that we are now fair game for round two. And people want to know when it’s going to happen. Between asking if my baby’s walking (no) and who watches him during the workday (well-paid strangers), the inevitable question comes up:
When are you going to have another baby?
I can only assume it’s so they can begin saving up to buy some awesome and expensive baby gift.
Or because they’re my doctor.
The truth is, there is no answer to that question. Neither my husband nor I have been able to definitively answer it. All we know is that right now, today, is not the time. Right now, today, we are happy. Thrilled, to be exact, as we get to put all of our energy and time into meeting and learning about this new person in our lives.
And to be even more truthful, there’s a good chance that one may be just right for us. Before you gasp and grab the smelling salts (Great Aunt Millie, I’m talking to you), let’s take a stitch to think this one through. And I’m going to first need you to put your stink eye away. And also that judgey face.
Aren’t only children spoiled?
Heck yeah. But so are children with siblings. And so are some adults, for that matter. Spoiling children is not a sibling problem; it’s a parenting problem. Making a concerted effort to teach your child sharing, kindness, self-control, coping skills and empathy goes a long way for any child. Sure, it makes perfect sense that a child with siblings might be given more opportunities to practice these skills, but there’s no reason to think that an only child would somehow be incapable of learning any and all of those things.
Aren’t only children lonely?
Those poor lonely only children get to bask in the glory of undivided parental attention for years and years. I think they’ll be just fine. Plus, don’t forget all the usual social opportunities available for toddlers, kids, and adolescents: family get-togethers, day care, playdates, preschool, swim lessons, school, soccer practice, sleepovers, summer camp, karate class … you get the idea. The same way a child with siblings may need to spend some quiet time alone, an only child may need some extra time socializing with peers. When that’s what your child needs, you help make sure those needs are met.
Why would you deny your child a lifelong friend?
Sorry, I just snorted and spilled my wine.What a load of clichéd child-rearing crap. Don’t get me wrong, I have an awesome relationship with my sister … now. But as kids, we fought like National Geographic crocodiles versus anacondas: Destroy or be destroyed.
The sad truth is that while I know plenty of adult siblings who are best friends, I also know plenty of adult siblings who don’t speak to each other. It’s kind of a crapshoot with no guarantee that one sibling won’t devour the other at some point in their lifetimes.
My decision to have or not have a second child really has little to do with fear of spoiling or isolating my child. It certainly has nothing at all to do with providing him with a little playmate to entertain him and be his forced best friend. And I’m not doing my child a disservice in that choice. I am, in fact, giving him the gift of understanding.
I understand my own personal, financial, and emotional limits. My time, my money, and, most importantly, my emotional reserves are finite. I’m at my best when I’m not depleted of all these reserves, and so are you. Your reserves might just be bigger than mine, and that’s OK.
So please don’t automatically assume that I am having another child, and please don’t stare at me with pursed lips and a scrunched-up face like I’m some kind of parenting asshole. I don’t need to defend why my son may be my one and only child, I just need recognition and understanding that what’s right for you may not be right for me.
In the end, it doesn’t really matter what you think because it’s my uterus and my eggs, and we’ll procreate if we want to.
© 2015 Shawna Gove, as first published on Scary Mommy