I admit, I get defensive when people talk negatively about “only” children, or “lonely” children. Before I go further, let me just say, I hate the word “only” in this context. Synonyms for only include merely and just, words that essentially mean “not enough”. No child should ever be described as not enough. Once upon a time, I could never understand why people would “only” have one child. But I know now, only children aren’t always created from intention. And if they are, so what? Who makes anyone else the authority on how many children a person should have?
A few weeks ago Nick and I met a friend and her 1 year old daughter at a play center. There were heaps of other kids around, being school holidays and all. My son is used to having to entertain himself, but he also enjoys playing with other kids, and isn’t too fussed on who they are or whether or not he knows them, he will try to join in with anyone. So it broke my heart when I saw him at the play center, trying to join in with some other kids but they seemed disinterested. He came up to me and said, “Mummy, no one will play with me.” I could see the boys he was trying to play with; two different sets of brothers. And of course the guilt hit me immediately…if things had gone to plan, he’d have at least a 2 if not 3 year old brother to run around and play with.
I guess only children can often find themselves being lonely. I got on the phone to see if one of his friends wanted to meet us for a play in the afternoon, and thankfully they were free. That’s a fine temporary fix, but there’ll never be a permanent fix. Even if a miracle were to happen, and we were to have another child sooner rather than later, there would still be at least a 6 year gap between them.
I threw myself into reading about only children and came to the conclusion that no matter how many children you have, kids can still find themselves feeling lonely. I also came to the conclusion that as an only child, Nick will benefit in ways children with siblings don’t. He gets all of our attention, he (may) have more opportunities for other activities (hello, I already shuffle him to swimming, tennis, now soccer). We may be able to travel more since we should have less financial restrictions (all good in theory!). Our home is relatively quiet and relaxed. No chaos here!
My son is well adjusted, has settled in beautifully to school, plays well with others, but also plays well on his own. I don’t feel like we’ve done him a disservice by not having more children, and I’ve finally decided I’m no longer going to feel guilty over it, either.
Linking up with Jess for IBOT, as always! Have you linked up yet?