only only

You’d think that after a beastly pregnancy, a crushing case of PPD and a schedule so full I always burst out laughing when I try to describe it, I’d have given up on the idea of gestating again. I mean, we won the Baby Lottery with Happy Fun Baby – I found out I was pregnant right about the time we got the results of Not So’s sperm tests, which said, basically, that there was a chance in hell that we could conceive without medical intervention, but only just. And let’s take a moment and think about my schedule, which currently involves two businesses, school, full-time mothering and a vast and endless supply of dirty dishes, all of which I am staying on top of by sheer force of I don’t know what. Not So and I sat down the other day and discussed the pros and cons of having another kid, and what it came down to is that we wouldn’t be able to maintain the same quality of life if we were to add to our family. Right now, we have the best of both worlds: an amazing kid who we adore, and career opportunities we used to only dream of. It’s a delicate balance, and another baby would send it toppling.

Does that stop me from wanting one so badly I could cry? It does not.

I always wanted a big family, and though the definition of big has changed since I was younger (I no longer want enough children to start my own circus troupe, although if Happy Fun Baby decides to be a contortionist I am so all over that) my idea of family still involves children, plural. More than one, fewer than three. Kids. Of course, I also thought I’d be a schoolteacher and have really great hair, so we’ve obviously got a bit of a reality disconnect here. Still. I find myself oddly reticent to get rid of Happy Fun Baby’s more memorable bits of baby gear, and every time I see a newborn I feel my ovaries twanging in a decidedly un-pc way.

Having an only child has its benefits, though. Besides the obvious perk of not having to go through the whole pregnancy thing again, our little family is uniquely suited to the type of lifestyle we lead. We love our little two-bedroom condo; a bigger family would need a bigger house, and more stuff to put in it. We don’t own a car and don’t want to. How would I wrangle a baby and a toddler on public transportation? People do it, but it looks very hard and I do not like things that are hard. We like the fact that we can strap the baby into the Ergo and go out into the world with only minimal additional baby-related gear. I’m terrible about keeping a schedule, and Happy Fun Baby is accommodating enough to let me wing it most days. I can’t imagine how I’d get a day’s work in with an infant and a toddler. And I like being able to be completely there for my kid. I don’t necessarily want to divide my attention, even if Happy Fun Baby would be getting a different sort of family experience from his theoretical sibling.

Only children have gotten a bad rap; most people think of them as spoiled, difficult, selfish. I’ve known only children who fit that mold, but I’ve known people with siblings who fit it, too. One of the moms on a bulletin board hit it on the head when she said “No kid of mine will be spoiled–just because we CAN give her something doesn’t mean we always will.” Happy Fun Baby won’t be an only child so that we can lavish him with stuff. He’ll be an only child because we made a choice about our quality of life. He’ll have parents who love him, and aunts and uncles who love him, and cousins, and friends. He doesn’t need a sibling to be a whole person.

Now, if I can just sell that pitch to my ovaries…

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5 thoughts on “only only”

  1. I differ from you in that I have not the tiniest twang of the ovaries for another, but in all other respects, we made the decision to have ours be an only based on many of the same reasons.

    Fussy posted on this subject: http://www.fussy.org/2006/11/day-twenty-nine.html
    and it’s interesting that one of the people she cites discusses this whole mal-adjusted-only-child myth — apparently it’s based on a study that’s since been debunked.

    Besides, Eliza’s relationship with our younger boy cat is weirdly fraternal, down to the tattling and the bossy-older-sister schtick…

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  2. Mrs. F, it’s true. Those negative stereotypes about onlies have so much more to do with the parents. Do I want to be the sort of parent who indulges my child’s every whim and sets no boundaries? No. The number of kids I have doesn’t affect that.

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  3. I only had one child. The advantages to our very small family were many: we had the money for interesting vacations, we did not have to compromise Big Time on foods for supper or the clicker, his Dad and I always had attention for him and could be involved in all activities without horrible schedule conflicts and every parenting stage such as toilet training, dating, school, college, first job and home had us 100% listening, trying and sometimes succeding in our balanced role.
    Now he is an adult and lives many states away. I am very sefish about this next part…I wish I had an adult daughter that lived 15 minutes away also.

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