When you get to a “certain age” and haven’t had a baby, you constantly get the when-are you-going-to-have -kids question. Once you finally do pop out a tiny human, it seems the question of when you’re going to have your second comes even faster. That’s why we decided to tackle the topic of growing your family for the latest installment of our Real Talk, Real Moms column.

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I have what I think might be a less common perspective on growing our family, or not growing it as the case may be. You see, I don’t think I want to add another baby to our midst. I think we are one and done. But people have very mixed opinions about that. Even I have mixed opinions now and again.

How do you know if you should have a second baby anyway? Lots of people say, well you don’t want to deny your child a sibling. And while yes, I agree – I never want to “deny” my child of any worthwhile experience, as my pediatrician explained: you do not want to have another baby for your existing child. That’s like getting a puppy in an attempt to save a relationship. Not a good idea. And while I look at friends’ babies and think oh, how cute, I have zero urge to go through it all again. Giving up my body to grow a tiny human, birthing said human and then right back into the sleepless nights, 1 million diapers and another year of breast feeding?? As I tip into my late 30’s, I’m feeling very done with that phase. Some people might call me selfish. I, in fact, struggle with guilt knowing I probably could get pregnant again but have literally no desire to. Now, I must caveat that I am only 15 months into this whole motherhood adventure and realize that my perspective could change…but I strongly doubt it.

Because we’re very happy as a family of three. It’s working quiet well for us and I find it nearly impossible to image adding someone else to the mix. Not to mention the trials and tribulations that seem to come from having two (or more) kids. I see the struggles plaguing friends with multiple kids over and over again. When you no longer out number the babies it can be really hard to keep the upper hand. I just do not feel up for that level of stress.

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But when I start feeling very resolute about having my one and only, the rampant stigma about only children kicks in. It’s been around for literally hundreds of years. According to NPR, in 1907 the American Psychological Association called only children “sickly, selfish, strange and stupid… and that being an only child is a disease in itself.” It often feels like that opinion hasn’t changed much.

But there’s so much research out there showing that only children can in fact be well adjusted, high functioning members of society with strong social skills. I just discovered the book One and Only, The Freedom of Having an Only Child and the Joy of Being One – all about the raising of only children and I cannot wait to pick up a copy. For example, the book debunks the myth that only children are lonely. Sure, in some cases I’m sure some only children did feel lonely growing up. But as the author Lauren Sandler explains, “for a lot of only children, being alone is the experience of solitude, which is a very rich thing, instead of loneliness, which is a very painful thing.” Interesting, no?

An only child herself, Sandler also explains her own mother’s rationale for intentionally have just one child:

“My mother was deeply devoted to raising me. To have a happy kid, she figured she needed to be a happy mother, and to be a happy mother, she needed to be a happy person. To do that, she had to preserve her authentic self, which she could not imagine doing with a second child.

I dig it. I dig it a lot. I strongly believe that being a very well-rounded adult will lead to raising well-rounded children.

So there you have it. I don’t know if this minor diatribe was in anyway helpful to anyone else considering whether or not to grow their families. This is just one woman’s take. But I appreciate the opportunity to share it with you. Anyone else out there struggle with these decisions? I would love to hear your experiences.

I also can’t wait to see what all our other mamas have to say on this very hot subject. You can read all of their stories by clicking on the links below.

Ave Styles / Could I Have ThatParker EtcThe Effortless Chic / Sarah Sherman Samuel / The Life Styled / Sacramento Street / Sugar & Charm / The Refined Woman

 

And if you haven’t checked out the Real Talk, Real Mom series yet, we’ve talked Sleep, Feeding, Travel, Career, Self-Care and Co-Parenting. #realmomseries

What do you think?

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29 Comments

  1. A million times, thank you! Took the words right out of my head! This is something i have been grappling with for the last few years… as each birthday comes around every year, I’ve felt like sand running through an hourglass. I’ll soon be out of time to decide, the pressure increasingly grows to hurry and decide. (I’m also in my late 30s). I love my daughter, but for the sake of myself, our family and her well being I can’t fathom bringing another into our brood. I have yet to fully let go of the guilt and fully accept this decision, so for now I’m just taking it one day at a time. I told myself that it is ok not to decide now. Maybe one day I will change my mind, and it will be ok then too. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

  2. I love this. We feel the exact same way and i always find it so crazy the shock and judgement people throw towards us because we only want one. I also think it’s so funny when people say “you don’t mean that, you want to have another” and the truth is, I am happy to be three and all the adventures we will have as a family of three. I love big families and siblings but also am excited for all that we will be able to provide and experience with just one. Thank you for sharing and I’m going to find that book now 🙂

  3. I love the way you do you. It’s good for moms everywhere to experience. And I always love how you bring in research into your motherhood articles.

  4. I think one is perfect. I was in that same boat and kept wavering. My decision was based upon my overwhelming love for my daughter and if she is more than I ever could have imagined then the next one has to be too. I never really wanted any kids to be honest and I’m glad I changed my mind. I’m scared for number 2, but I’m hoping ahe blows me away just like our first did.

  5. I have two children and expecting a third one. All planned and wanted. And yet, I can probably understand everyone who wants to have one child much better, having more is just crazy. I signed up for this and I want the crazy, but yes, it really seems to be much logical not to go there. It’s strange how people would put pressure on others to have more because they are not the ones who have to be pregnant again, go through child labour again and give up lots of their lives. Unless one REALLY wants more kids for whatever reason, no one should feel they should. It wouldn’t make for a happy mother and a happy family. My reason (and my husband’s) for having more (and I really made sure there are age gaps between them so that I can have my lufe, sanity and enjoy full time work) is wanting to have a small group of people around us late in life, to enjoy varied connections and relationships when kids are more grown up, when they are adults themselves – just to have this “network” for us and for kids to have each other.

  6. I’m with your thinking one hundred percent. Although I have two grown kids now, the struggle of juggling life and work then was the hardest thing to do for me. The other thing is there is no guarantee the children will ever get along either, which in itself is difficult for the parent(s) to deal with. Spreading your attention to both kids equally is another challenge. There isn’t enough energy in any woman to do it justly or fairly – something always falters. I say don’t ever let the pressures of society get to you about having or not children. Growing a family in this world now is not at all ideal anymore. Sorry to sound so doom and gloom, but I speak from experience.

  7. I just really really really appreciate this post and this specific topic (although I love the whole series!). I go back & forth on this topic – and mine babe is only 7 months so it’s kinda cra to even be considering. Yet.
    But the pressure to decide – bc I, too, am in my mid. 30’s – and the guilt I have when I feel content with just one… I waiver like it’s my job. More will be revealed, and I’m sure I’ll feel content with whatever we choose, but it’s the toughest decision to consider, in my opinion. Thank you for your honesty!!!!! I love your blog (and your eye for design!)!!!
    Another blogging mama,
    Maura
    aserenespace.com
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=8zj8HJntlP4

  8. Thank you for bringing this up and sharing…I am a 37 year old mother of a 3 year old and I hear all the time from friends and family when are you having another baby….the idea never crossed my mind (REALLY)! Why is it not ok with society to be a family of 3? I am glad that i get to give all my attention to my only son…
    I am going to pick up that book you mentioned – sounds like a good read!

  9. Very impressed with your frankness and appreciate the share. I’m a parent of one and often think about the same things you’ve commented on. Thank you for representing!

  10. I had a child at age 43. It was the result of circumstances–a marriage years before ended in divorce without kids (all the better, since I don’t have to have anything to do with someone who turned out to be so destructive). And then there were years of wondering whether I would ever meet anybody else. Though I had no trouble conceiving and had an easy pregnancy (I rode an exercise bike for 45 minutes a day up to week 36, and I walked to the hospital to deliver), I didn’t feel up to a second one. It was hard on our relationship, and we had moved overseas, so I had no friends or family nearby. I am sad our child hasn’t known the joy and frustration of a sibling–I myself am very close to mine, despite the distance. But I never have to worry about whether I’m being fair. And due to financial problems (husband lost his job), I don’t know how we’re going to get one through college.

  11. Hallelujah!!! This post was written for me!
    I’ve been following your blog for a few years now but I think I never left any comment or maybe just once, I can’t really remember…
    Anyway, I am in my late 30’s too and I got pregnant a few months after you. It’s weird but I remember reading your post about your pregnancy and how having kids wasn’t part of the plan. I remember how I fell reading it because this is exactly how I fell when I got pregnant.
    Having a baby wasn’t part of my plan, I never felt that need to have a tiny human in my life but I got pregnant. And even if that pregnancy was a surprise I was happy to know that something was growing inside me. Today I have a beautiful little girl that I love more than everything and it’s weird how I couldn’t imagine my life without her anymore. I still check every night if she breathes when she’s in her bed, I wake up when she cries, feed her, change her and make her laugh. I do all the things that moms do because she’s my daughter and I love her. But at the same time I know that one baby is definitely enough for me. I agree with the fact that to be a happy mother you need to be a happy person and the only way to have happy kids is to be a happy mother. Having another baby wouldn’t make me happier but just more tired and stressed out and I would even probably cry even more than I do now because of all those things. Because even if you love that little being more than your own life you are a mom and you are tired, you are exhausted and you can even feel guilty about that sometimes. You want to be a perfect mom but you can’t…
    I am sure some women are amazing moms of 2 or 3 or even more kids but my little one is enough in my world. I will try to do my best to be the amazing mother of one little girl. I want to be a happy mother to make her happy!

    1. I so relate with you Nadia. While I know I would still be happy if I didn’t have kids I wouldn’t trade my little dude for anything. It sounds like your little girl is very lucky to have you!

  12. i love this topic! while i’m totally at the other end of the spectrum (just had baby #3 and already feeling like while our family is perfect, i would absolutely add another), and i love hearing the behind-the-scenes from other mothers. before having children myself i always thought only children were a little strange. but now that i’m a mother, i absolutely see the beauty in it. when i find myself alone with just one of my children there’s such a special interaction that i often miss with 3 running around.

    1. And thanks so much for sharing your perspective Bri. I cannot even fathom how you do it with 3. It takes so much to muster up the energy to be a full, present and dedicated person for my son at the end of a long day – I’m in awe of those who not only survive but thrive with more!

  13. This one definitely struck a cord with me. We only have the one – I hate it when I use the word “only” because she is so much more than only. This was not our choice unfortunately but we have for the most part accepted this.

    However I completely respect where you are coming from. Life is easier with one child – coffee dates, work, shopping, holidays are far easier with only one child. Also, as an only child pointed out to me on Saturday night my daughter gets all of me and I in turn get all of her. Because we can’t use the whole “go and play with your sister / brother” I engage much more with her because I have to and it is a good thing. It makes me more present than I probably would have been.

    Molly went through a period where she really wanted a sister and it damn broke my heart I couldn’t give her one but now she isn’t fussed. She doesn’t miss out on interacting with other kids – she attends day care / kinder three days a week, she has a squad of cousins that she is super close to and my best friends kids are her surrogate brothers and sisters. The only time she is overwhelmed is when we arrive somewhere as she is used to the quiet rather than the noise of kids constantly.

    And I really like my life. And I love my husband and daughter.

    The line “to have a happy kid, she figured she needed to be a happy mother, and to be a happy mother, she needed to be a happy person” rings so true. I give her all the crazy silly things I did with my siblings but with me. I pretend and run and hide and ride bikes and make up stupid songs and play (and cheat) at cards and build forts so that she gets that too and it makes me so stinking happy to hang out with her.

    If you don’t want to have another child that is ok, don’t listen to what other people say. Trust your gut and your instincts and trust in the love your little family of three have together!

    1. I appreciate your advice so much Chantelle. I worry about Carter wishing for a sibling down the line and being sad, but I think if we can give him a full social circle, have fun with cousins and friends – he’s going to be fine. I can’t wait to travel with him, go out to dinners, really incorporate him into all the things we love to do. I just have a hard time imaging how to do that with multiple!

  14. I am an only child and am now happily married with two sons. And my upbringing wasn’t perfect. I had a loving household by my single father and a mother who was largely out of the picture. I don’t feel like I was disadvantaged by my lack of siblings. My dad and I are very close and he was a great role model for me.
    I chose to have two because I saw a second in my future. It took two years after my first was born to be ready for another though. After a rough childbirth and the shock of motherhood, I needed some time to settle in. But I always saw two. And if I hadn’t, that would have been okay! Children need loving parents and stability.
    Also, any person that says you should or shouldn’t have children is an idiot. That is your decision, no one else’s.

  15. I agree with you completely. After our first daughter turned one I had such a strong urge to have another. It felt like someone was missing in our family. Then our second daughter came along four years ago, and that urge has not returned. However, as I get older I worry I may regret not adding a third (and potentially a boy) baby. I have even had friends and family urge me to grow our family. But like you, I feel that all the baby things are behind me, and would limit all the awesome big kid stuff we get to do now. Maybe if that urge returns I will know it’s time for a third, but for now I am completely, blissfully satisfied.

  16. I don’t think you should feel any guilt over having one. Just like most things in life, each situation has its positives and negatives. I have two and love it, but I see other parents who have one–they seem to have more time and energy to devote to their child. I miss the days when it was just me and the older one. Both ways are special. I was an only child and can attest that it’s OK! 🙂

  17. Man, I feel this way and I’m only 17 weeks pregnant with my first! I’ve never had a desire to be a mom – even when I met my husband who I knew could be an amazing father. (Everyone says your feelings towards having children change when you meet “the one” but mine never did.) We had A LOT of talks about children before we got married. We weren’t even trying when I found out I was pregnant. I cried…and they weren’t happy tears.

    I’ve now become much more accepting, okay and happy with our situation. We’re coming up on four years of marriage this fall and he’s been asking for a kid since the day we got married. I give major kudos who have multiple children. Seriously! I have two siblings of my own. I just don’t think I’ll ever want more than one kid, and I think that’s perfectly okay!

  18. I am going through my first trimester in my first pregnancy, and it is hard! I have always said I want more than one child, but even the thought of going through this nausea and constant sickness makes me rethink our future family. Knowing when your family is complete (whether it’s with or without children) is a decision only you and your husband can make. You’ll know when it’s right. All the best!

    1. One and done, here! I love and like my husband (who himself is an only child) and I would like to stay married to him, so I know #2 is not an option – this momma knows her mental, emotional, and physical limits, and I’m maxed out with my daughter. Knowing 100% that I don’t want another child doesn’t mean I don’t feel guilty at times. No one else’s nosy comments get to me but my daughter is 4 and her friends have new baby siblings and she constantly asks for one. She currently has 3 imaginary sisters. (And even they drive me nuts sometimes!) The worst was being out to breakfast one morning. We let her bring a toy. There was a family with 2 daughters nearby. 4 year old: “Those girls don’t have a toy. I have a toy because I don’t have a sister.” Ouch.

      1. Oooh, that is rather brutal Sharyn. I know we’ll probably get to that stage too someday but just like you – I know the limits of my sanity and I just cannot fathom being a good mom, a good wife or a good person with more than 1 kid. I’m barely clearing that bar as it is. Ultimately, I just tell myself I’ll do the best I can and hope he’ll turn out as little screwed up as possible

  19. (Oops, didn’t mean to “reply”, you can delete that.)

    One and done, here! I love and like my husband (who himself is an only child) and I would like to stay married to him, so I know #2 is not an option – this momma knows her mental, emotional, and physical limits, and I’m maxed out with my daughter. Knowing 100% that I don’t want another child doesn’t mean I don’t feel guilty at times. No one else’s nosy comments get to me but my daughter is 4 and her friends have new baby siblings and she constantly asks for one. She currently has 3 imaginary sisters. (And even they drive me nuts sometimes!) The worst was being out to breakfast one morning. We let her bring a toy. There was a family with 2 daughters nearby. 4 year old: “Those girls don’t have a toy. I have a toy because I don’t have a sister.” Ouch.

  20. I’ve been out of the blogging world for a long while and just now really starting to catch up on my favorite blogs. With that said, not sure if you’ve changed your mind or settled firmly on the decision to have one child, but I feel compelled to comment anyway. I’m an only child, and I have LOVED it my whole life. I remember briefly wanting a sibling when I was young, but it lasted for all of ten minutes. I then went off to lead my plastic toy horses around the house on a trail ride by myself. And I was perfectly happy.

    I hate that people think only children are “deprived.” I never felt that way about not having siblings. It was merely a difference in me and my friends, and I never gave it much thought. I think adults put their own feelings – mature and experienced and with way less flexiblility – on kids. But really, kids don’t think about it if the parent doesn’t. I was never for want, and my mom never gave an impression that she or us were incomplete. I felt and still feel whole.

    As a 25-year-old, I still love being an only child. I always loved the solitude growing up and my appreciation of it now has only gotten stronger. I love having the skill set to keep myself occupied and to rely on myself. I love the experiences I had growing up specifically because my mom only had to provide it for me and not other kids. And I’d say I’m very well adjusted socially despite my love for being alone. I can carry a conversation. I’m polite. I pick up on social cues. And I have a healthy selfishness. I know how to say “no” but also be empathetic. Most people are surprised to find out that I don’t have siblings, and I think it’s because of this bizarre, misguided notion that only children are awkward, strange, and incapable of normal function.

    It all comes back to the parenting really. If, as a parent, you feel happy and complete, that energy will move through your only child, and they will feel the same. I loved my only childhood, and I still love it today. It’s a unique blessing that not many people have.

    1. I came across this blog after doing a google search “why to have a second child”. Sounds sad, right? When I met my husband, the subject of kids didn’t come up very much. But when I had mentioned to my husband that a friend asked when we would have a child, my husband told me the truth about how he felt. He didn’t want kids. Period. He didn’t want to turn out like his father (mentally, physically and emotionally abusive). I, on the other hand had always seen myself with two kids. This was a huge deal breaker and this night of discussion and heartbreak seemed to last for days, then weeks, then months. My husband had said to me after we both had talked with outside sources that he would try counseling to get over his fear. He never went – but came to me one day and said he would like to have a child. So we have a six year old now. Up until the hour ago that I read your blog, I had wanted a second. And regretted our decision to stop our family at one. The sentence that drew me in immediately and was almost like an “aha!” moment was “…you do not want to have a baby -for- your existing child.” That has been all of my worry. I have worried and stressed over this thought so much. Especially the only child stigma. But I didn’t want the late nights. C-section recovery. Being tired and stressed about money and day care for a second child. Just a friend/sibling for my son.
      Absolute kudos to those who have chosen to have more than one. Nothing wrong with that. My mom was part of a 7 children family and I come from a family of three siblings.
      I plan on ordering that book and giving it a read. But your blog has helped me a lot. I thought I would have to do some major soul searching to figure this out. But I’m glad to have stumbled on this today. So thank you. 🙂

      1. Megan, this note is quite possibly the most uplifting comment anyone has ever left me. I’m so glad that this post was helpful to you. Motherhood can often leave you feeling like you’re stranded on a deserted island but in truth we’re all in this together. Happy Mother’s Day to you!

        1. I have three. All planned but I have never judged a family or parent for stopping at one. Some of the loveliest adults I know in my life are only children and isn’t that the point? To raise children into thriving adults? My one recommendation, garnered from their experiences, is simply to take care of using your only child as your dumping ground for your marriage. It can be easy to confide in the only child since they are the other person besides your spouse living in your house but kids deserve to be kids and don’t need to hear about the ins and outs of their parents’ stuff.

  21. Literally less than a week after giving birth, I had ppl asking if I was going to have another baby!! Come on, I’ve only know this one for less than a week!!!