On Having An Only Child

We picked up a hire minivan yesterday so that we would have enough space for my SIL and her family while they are visiting us for three weeks. Last night, in the van, got me thinking. It was a great ride and I would definitely want one. If I had at least 1 or 2 more kids. More kids. The question every parent of an only child* dreads, but can’t avoid.

I am constantly getting emails from Circle of Mums. I usually just delete them. But a couple of weeks ago, one email caught my eye. The email linked to an article on “why you shouldn’t have an only child.”

Immediately I got my back up and I couldn’t resist. I just had to see what this was going to be all about. I went in, like a cat ready to attack. But it turned out to be a fairly well-balanced article, outlining the pros and the cons for each side of the coin.

It is human nature to want what we want, or to think we know what we want. Before I met my husband, I thought I wanted 5 kids. Funnily enough, he is one of 5. And with me being one of 3, having just 1 child was not something I ever considered or ever thought we’d do.We both had agreed that 2 was a nice even number, and if the second one ended up being twins and we had 3, then that would be ok, too.

But here we are, with one child, and another one not really anywhere in sight. We have wanted another, for a while now actually, but it hasn’t happened. I have moments where I desperately want another, and moments where I think it is clear as day that I am only meant to have one. Then I wonder if I am only trying to fool myself, to lessen the pain of not falling pregnant, by trying to convince myself of all the pros of having an “only child”.

I had a smooth pregnancy, but I still didn’t like being pregnant. I had a fairly traumatic birth, but in the grand scheme of things, it could have been a lot worse. I certainly didn’t cope well the first year of being a mum. And even now, I think I’d like to adopt one between the age of 18 months and 3 years, and just skip the whole pregnancy/birth/newborn stages this time around. I feel like it has been an uphill battle to get to this point. The point where he can communicate, is toilet trained, and sleeps through the night. Where he is in kindy 2-3 days a week, can stay at nanna’s for a weekend, and will soon be going to school. Having another child means starting all over again, back at nappies and bottles and night feeds and more. I know that stage doesn’t last very long but it feels like having another would be a huge sacrifice and, dare I say it, another big step backwards. I’m sorry if that last statement is not politically correct for a mother to make. And perhaps that statement is the very reason the universe hasn’t graced us with another baby.

It is a difficult situation, because I can look at it from a number of different angles. Perhaps I should bullet-point this, or it could get (even more) rambly.

  • We are not meant to have another
  • We are meant to try harder to have another
  • We want it too much
  • We don’t want it enough
  • We can give a lot more to just one – attention, love, “better” schools (if you think private is better), travel, etc.
  • Children learn a lot of life lessons from having a sibling
  • He’ll be a “lonely” child
  • There’s no guarantee he’ll get along with a brother or sister
  • He’ll always be surrounded by friends in and outside of school
  • Adjusting to one child was hard on us, individually and as a couple, adjusting to a second will be harder
  • The first was hard, the second will be a breeze
  • What if, heaven please forbid, something happens to him?
  • What if we have another and something is wrong?
  • I’m already too old to have another
  • We’re finally getting ahead financially
  • My body is always aching and hurting and can’t handle another pregnancy
  • We don’t want to put ourselves through the heartache of failed fertilization attempts

Perhaps I could go on and on like this all night. What it boils down to one simple question. Will we feel satisfied and fulfilled with one child? And I think the answer is a resounding yes. We are so fortunate to have an amazing son! I can’t imagine my world without him and I hope I never have to.

We think we get a say in how many children we have, but I don’t believe we do. We get how many we are supposed to get, and we love them and raise them, encouraging and nurturing the whole way. Whether it is 1, or 19.

Today I got a glimpse of what it would be like to have 3 children, with N’s cousins coming from overseas for a visit. It is hectic. It is loud. But boy was it fun for them. He absolutely loves them and I think he will be very sad when they have to go home. If we are destined to only have one, then that will be fine, and we will just make the most of taking his friends on holiday with us, and having lots of sleep-overs.

That minivan, it really got me thinking. And I could definitely imagine a few more kids spilling out of it on the school run. But maybe it is not meant to be.


* I hate the term “only” child. “Only” has that connotation of “not enough”


One thought on “On Having An Only Child

  1. Sometimes I think the heart and the mind are at such odds I’m not sure how we mere humans are meant to cope.
    I have three babies – the scenario you talked about – having a baby & then twins – happened to us. Our limit (before) was absolutely no more than two. Now I think I could have half a dozen! But we have health, pregnancy and prematurity risks that mean we are done. We are very happy and have been so blessed with our family.
    I think I will always want another baby, but I think it’s a fairly common thing. If you are happy then I think it’s the most important thing!

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