Yes, I’m only having one.

On July 31, 2010, in Family, Friends, Kid, by Wendy

And no, I’m not going to change my mind, so please stop telling me that I will.

I still can’t understand why people pin self-centered and over-privileged labels on only children. Do people who use those labels honestly think that kids with siblings are more inclined to put others needs before their own? What is it about having brothers and sisters that automatically makes you less selfish than an only kid? Isn’t it also the classic Psychology 101 assumption that the oldest kid is forced to take care of the younger kids and is resentful about it, the middle kid is invisible and trying desperately to get someone’s, anyone’s attention, and the youngest kid is coddled and grows up a spoiled rotten brat.

Labels suck, don’t they?

From what I’ve seen there is more competition to get mom and dad’s attention when there are multiple kids around and some go to great lengths to try and stand out from the pack of siblings, whether it is excelling in school or acting out criminal behavior. Also, if you’re the type of person who is drawn to new shiny trinkets and loads of scheduled activities, you’re going to buy them whether you have one or ten kids. Over-indulgence is a parenting choice regardless of how many kids you have.

Our budget is stretched with just one. We moved from a one-bedroom rent controlled apartment that we lived in for 10 years to a two-bedroom apartment priced at market rates shortly after our daughter was born. We had tons of hand-me-downs and she was breast-fed. As soon as the hand-me-downs dried up and she was eating solids, our food and clothing expenses soared. There is just no way we can afford a third bedroom and another mouth to feed as long as we stay in the City (and we have no intentions of leaving).

I’m an older mom and I was very active before I had my daughter, but there are days when I just can’t keep up with her. I see other parents (and nannies) at the park who are taking care of more than one, and I’m exhausted just watching them. Some make it look really easy, but most look and act completely frazzled and just about to loose what little composure they have left.

Also, my daughter started sleeping through the night about six months ago, and I’m finally starting to feel rested. The idea of starting all over again brings tears to my eyes. I don’t think I can take another year and a half of sleepless nights.

Mitch and I are able to have me time. He has his weekly poker game, and has a beer with friends at least once a week. I’ve just started enrolling in classes again and making plans to see my friends. We also have time for us. We’ll get a sitter so we can go out for dinner or to see a band. I don’t know many parents with more than one kid who says the same thing. They spit out very acidic comments about how they *used* to be able to do stuff before the second or third kid came around and now they just couldn’t possibly do stuff like that. That kind of self-imposed martyrdom is not appealing to me.

Siblings aren’t always great friends, and you just never know how things are going to work out with your set until they exist. It’s another reason why we stopped at one. Many people told me that they didn’t really start liking their brothers or sisters until they were adults well into their 20s and 30s. There was a lot of strife and bad blood between them and their siblings, and it took years to get over that. Some were close in age and most would assume that everything would work perfectly, but it didn’t in their cases.

From my experience, only children can’t rely on the convenience of a live-in playmate, and they learn how to develop friendships with other kids a lot easier than I think siblings are able to do. I’m an only child, and I grew up okay with not having a brother or sister. Of course, there were occasions when I wished I had a sibling, but it’s natural to think you want what you don’t have. In general, I was very happy growing up as an only child and I have several very close childhood friends who, to this day, are like family to me.

So far, our daughter warms to people easily, and she’s never been shy around others. She has a BFF that she sees several times a week (another only child) and they are developing a great friendship. It’s hard to predict whether our daughter’s experience is going to be like mine in the long run, but we’ve made our decision and we’ll just have to see how it turns out in the end.


One Response to Yes, I’m only having one.

  1. Halsted says:

    I’m sorry people are giving you grief about having another child. Some folks just cannot accept that their way of thinking about the world is not The Only Way.

    By the way, I am an only child, too, and I too turned out just fine. :)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *