The insurance brochure cover shows a family: Man, woman, older boy, younger girl. Because a ‘real’ family is 2+ kids right? It’s what’s expected. Some people think there’s something inexplicably sad about ‘only’ children and something selfish about parents who only pump out one pup. I beg to differ.
We weren’t going to have any kids, or rather we thought we couldn’t. So instead, we were going to be one of those couples: the type with a white sofa, the type that travels to amazing places, volunteers for charities, runs every day and eats in fabulous restaurants four nights a week.
We got a dog to sate my maternal urge and I decided I’d concentrate on my career instead, or maybe write a book. But I still found myself looking enviously at swelling bellies and cringing at every Facebook post about a new bundle of joy. Then I got pregnant and all my carefully planned distraction tactics had to be reassessed. I’d spent two years convincing myself I didn’t actually want a child, now I was going to have one. It was a bit of a head fuck to be honest.
Now he’s here and he’s awesome. He’s changed my life for the better in a zillion ways and I feel amazingly lucky to have him. But also, I have to admit it’s hard. It’s hard to be responsible for another life all the time. It’s relentless and often unrewarding, emotional and downright depressing. As he get’s older it gets easier. I’ve adapted to ,and accepted, my role as a mum. He also get’s funnier and more loveable every second, which makes it all seem more worth while.
But you know what? One is enough. I only want one child. So, why is that so hard for people to understand?
My son is three and, apparently society at large thinks, this is the perfect age to pump out a little sibling for him. As a result not a day goes by that someone or other doesn’t say,
‘When are you having your next one?’
And when I answer, ‘I don’t want any more.’
People look at me dumbfounded. Horrified. Confused. How can I be so cruel, so wrong, so selfish? There are, after all, so many reasons why I should have a second child:
‘He’ll be lonely’
Really? I don’t think so. He’ll have the full attention of his parents and grandparents. We’re hands on; we enjoy jumping on the trampoline, reading stories and going to the park. I’m an ace at Lego and my husband makes cool Play Doh snails. My son has a dog. He’ll make friends. I really don’t think he’ll be lonely. He may be a loner, but that’s different. If he can be happy with his own company then I think that’s fantastic.
‘The second child is so much easier’
I get this. The first time I was so busy reading books telling me ‘how to be a mother’ and worrying about everything that I often forgot to actually enjoy my son. I know that second time around, mothers are much more chilled, that second babies sleep better, eat better, etc. But the words ‘baby’ and ‘easy’ do not go together in my mind. No matter how much easier the second baby is, it’s still hard, too hard.
‘He’ll always have someone to play with’
Hmm nice idea but I know plenty of people who hate their brothers and sisters with a passion. Creating another mini me isn’t a guarantee of harmony. Not only could he always have someone to play with but also someone to fight with. To be jealous of. To compete with.
Anyway, I want to play with my son, playing is the best bit!.
‘Only children get spoiled’
I’m fine with this. Yes, my son does have his own room, plenty of toys and plenty of attention. But he also has good manners, rarely has tantrums and understands that when mum says ‘no’ she means it. I’m happy to ‘spoil’ him with love and attention. I hope it will make him grow up confident and secure. I think that’s possible with or without a sibling.
‘You’re being selfish’
Yes, I am. I am being selfish and I’m cool with that. My husband and I are in a good place. It’s taken us about three years to get used to having another entity to look after and we’re finally there – almost. Our finances, our workload and our home life run relatively smoothly. One child is affordable. One child is manageable. One child means we can occasionally escape for some ‘couple time’. One child means life is easier.
Also, there are other things I want to do MORE than have another child. I want to travel (with and without my son), I want to write a book, I want to pay off my mortgage, I want time to exercise, to cook, to watch films, read books. I want to lie on the beach and read a book for an hour. I want to have time to myself.
I see people with two, three, four kids and I think it all looks so hectic. Their whole life revolves around their kids, and while that’s possibly exactly what some people want, it’s just not for me. Okay the ‘idea’ of a little brother or sister for my son is nice, but in reality, for me, it’s not remotely appealing or do-able.
I can say, hand on heart that I don’t want any more kids. My son will be an only child and he’ll be just fine. So please stop asking me when the next one is coming along. Okay?