There wasn’t an exact moment I remember thinking to myself “I am only going to have one child”, but I remember the first time I felt like apologizing for it.
I am not the type of person that goes running around saying “I’ve decided I’m only having one child and that is such a great decision”. I’ve noticed there is a pattern in life – when you are dating someone then people ask you when are you getting engaged. When you are married people ask you when you are having children. When you have one child, people ask you when you are having your next.
It’s not that it’s a rude conversation to start up with someone, and I have become conscience of myself following the same pattern. People consider some steps in life to be logical, and if you fall outside one of those steps then suddenly what you are doing can be labelled as different.
When my husband and I decided our son would be our only child it wasn’t a sad decision – we were lucky enough to have the choice on what our family would look like, and we decided we were lucky and very blessed to have what we have. Plus we have a dog (a Yorkie at that) who is very demanding, and we consider him another child. Trust me, he’s high maintenance.
We’ve been open with friends and family on our decision to have one child. I can’t remember a time actually bringing up in conversation – it’s usually because it might be the topic of conversation, or because I have been asked directly.
I’ve found most of my good friends have acknowledged it and it’s not really a discussion or talking point – it’s just something that I am doing and they are ok with it.
It’s the other reaction that completely baffles me – the people who dismiss my decision as fleeting, or dare I say, act horrified at this decision we have made.
I have been told “you say that now, but you will change your mind when you hold a newborn again”. Sorry, I have held many newborn’s, and although it brings back awesome memories of my own son’s first few months, I’m still happy with my decision. This sort of reaction from others doesn’t upset me because it’s coming from a good place. It’s like someone saying, it’s ok to change your mind. At least that is what I am hoping they mean!
The worst reactions are unfortunately the most common – people actually tell me how it’s a terrible idea to have just one child, and explain how it will negatively affect my child.
It’s like people can’t control themselves. They feel so passionate about what I am doing that they need to tell me what I am doing is not right before I pass the point of no return.
This is expressed to me in so many different ways, but all of them are usually very blunt. I actually have been told my child will be lonely, sad, and will have something missing from his life. I am not talking about the people asking if I am worried these things will happen – that is an honest conversation I am willing to have. Ask me anytime because I am happy to talk about it. It’s the people who tell me these things are actually going to happen that bother me.
Here’s the good news – I know better than this. My son is amazing. I know, we all think our children are amazing, and I am no different – he is amazing. Our goal in life is to make sure our child is happy. We don’t care what school he goes to, what sports he does or doesn’t play, what profession he chooses – the bottom line is we want to provide him with a happy family life, and we want to support him in whatever makes him happy.
Knowing this, I wonder how people could automatically assume that his lack of siblings means he will somehow end up unhappy. I grew up with two siblings I loved very much, but my childhood happiness was not dependent soley on them. There are a lot of things that make up a happy life. Does the fact that you did or didn’t have happiness in your life stem from if you had siblings or not? Maybe so, but I refuse to allow people to define my son’s life based on our families decision.
As a concerned parent (who has become more concerned based on all of these revelations on how dismal my son’s life will be without siblings), I am making a conscience effort to make sure he has a busy social life. He has friends – great friends actually – that he knows by name and requests play dates with. He’s involved with sports, he meets new kids at the zoo, the playground, on family trips, at restaurants – so far he seems pretty adjusted to his life as an only child pretty well.
It’s impossible to forget all of these comments people have made about what they think will happen to my son as a result of our family’s decision to have just one child. What’s left for me is to do is what I would do if I had one child, or six children – do everything I can to make sure my child is safe, happy and loved. Beyond that, all I can do is write this little blog post letting you know that our decision to have one child should be ok with you.