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.
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.
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.