Family Planning :: Why An Only Child Is Perfect For Us


ONE CHILD FAMILYIt isn’t that my son is too much, although we do have our moments of sheer insanity. And it isn’t that my maternal instincts are either absent or inactivated. They are working just fine, sometimes even mama bear overdrive. And while I did have a rough labor and delivery, I’m not jaded to the point of bareness. I don’t hate children either- not yours nor mine! I don’t drink, smoke, or do drugs, so I’m not looking for the freedom to reenter middle earth and fade away. It’s actually so plain and simple it might just knock you down. Hold tight. Breathe.  My family is complete with one child. One toe-headed, long-legged, occasionally cussing but mostly snuggle-bugging child. We are a perfectly happy triangle of love, and we aren’t looking to expand.

Statistically, this is a rising trend. But it comes with such backlash, I’m surprised most people are brave enough to stop genetically multiplying after the first go around. Let’s talk about one. Because it was said to me once that “one barely counts.” Well, one round of mini golf barely counts, that’s true. One shoelace seems a bit deficient. If you’ve set out to count to 4 billion, one is really, painfully insignificant. But one human being under your 24/7 care from the second they are born until the moment you can longer care for them hardly “barely counts.” One is actually the number that counts so much. Once you have one, you have entered the bizarre world of parenthood where you think more about the level of safety of your area pond than you do about personal hygiene or the meaning of life.

Having more than one child does not make a parent more loving. Or responsible. Or intuitive. Or normal. It just makes them a parent to more than one child. And while I do have great respect for the moms and dads I see lugging three and four children through Whole Foods, I simply know that that lifestyle is not a good fit for my little triangle family. This decision wasn’t easy. Yes, siblings are awesome. And a house full of children is a dream come true for some people. Maybe children with siblings learn things faster! Like, to read, and ride a bike.  Or to share and use their gentle hands. Maybe they even evolve through genetic bonding (the one solid point made here). But, over time of study, research has actually found parents of singletons to be happier. What about that bratty single child, you ask. Every single child on the planet has the potential to be raised to be a brat. Children are not innately awful, and if their integrity is harnessed and respected, they will develop into outstanding contributors to our society (minus the teenage years, which are a wash regardless.) In my opinion, bratty children have bratty parents, and their siblings are irrelevant to that equation.

You might worry that my son gets lonely. Well, feeling lonely is actually a very normal human emotion and the truth is, it’s rarely correlated to being alone. People feel lonely for a multitude of reasons, but being a single child isn’t high on that list. Besides, my son is constantly with one of us, or his grandparents, or his friends at school. We don’t actually leave him all by himself, um, ever. He can play alone, better than some other children his age even, but that’s a skill deemed beneficial. He is independent and strong and cautious. As are children with siblings. So you see, it’s all okay.

Is there a slight selfish undertone to the choice to have one child? I’m not sure how to answer that since it’s the only decision I’ve ever known. There are upsides, for sure. When my son is asleep, I get to be alone with my husband.  When he is at school, I get to work and shop and play and meet friends for lunch. Plane tickets are cheaper, Montessori school is affordable, we all fit in a mid-sized non-mommy car, and when the tummy bug makes its rounds, I get to rest because I only have one sick kid. Are those selfish reasons to have a singleton? They might seem that way on the surface, but get to know your one and done friends a bit more. Every family has a unique story. My family has a 37 year old mom with a 46 year old dad. My husband has had two brain surgeries and we lost a pregnancy earlier in our relationship. When the doctors told me I’d likely never conceive without in vitro, we chose to live together in a childless existence. And then my son made his unexpected and grandest of entrances and we decided to live in a child-filled existence. Our lives changed the day he was born in the exact same ways a parent of five’s life changes. We became parents. And while our one little guy isn’t a barrel of children, he’s enough and too much and perfect for our family dynamic – like all children.

Do you have a unique family story? How about the parents of singleton’s, can you relate? Did you choose to have one child, or is that just how the cards fell for you?