An ode to the only child
posted by: gretchen
Families with many children and families with one child have a lot in common. As a mom with many, I feel a special bond with moms of only children.
I understand what it’s like to field deeply personal questions about reproductive habits, fertility, and ethical and spiritual beliefs while waiting for library story time to commence.
I’ve been asked when we are going to stop as much as my sister, the mother of one child, has been asked when she is going to have another. I’m guilty of asking her that question, until the moment I realized it must feel just as intrusive and obnoxious for her to hear it as it feels for me to field the opposite question.
So I stopped asking. My niece is an amazing, lovely girl. She doesn’t need a brother or a sister to form her into some Better Version of herself. I think that’s pretty insulting, actually, to imply a person is less-than if they don’t have a sibling to spur them on to bigger and better things.
Our choices are outside the societal norm which gives everyone else in the room special license to gawk or opine on the perceived dangers of our family structures.
While my kids are probably starving for attention, her daughter gets too much attention. Bad on both sides.
While my kids don’t get anything they want, her daughter must get everything she wants. Bad and bad.
Society is built for families of four. When was the last time a vacation sweepstakes gave away a fabulous trip for 9 or for 3 to the beautiful Waikiki Hilton? In our family, we joke about who would have to stay at home for the 7 days, 6 nights. In families with an only child, they probably sit around trying to figure out who gets to tag along. May I make a suggestion?
Take my 3-year-old. You thought I was going to say take me, but she could use a vacation.
I realize this is purely anecdotal evidence, but every person I know who grew up as an only child is a wonderful individual. They are thoughtful, hard-working, and seem deeply interested in others. I believe they grow up feeling cherished and important. That is never a bad thing and it serves them and our society well. But I don’t know what it’s really like to be an only child because I grew up in a family with 3 children.
It’s a good thing we never won a sweepstakes where the prize was a trip to beautiful Waikiki. My brother would have had to stay home alone.
Families with one child face unique challenges, aside from the obvious where everyone wants to know when that little brother or sister is coming. I have nothing but respect for parents who need to carve out a parenting style in a world where there aren’t a lot of resources or others in their same boat.