Today I have another installment of Real Talk, Real Moms for you and this month’s topic is rather apropos. This go round we’re talking about the decision to have more kids. And after a string of strep throat, ear infections, other pre-school induced plagues, schlepping a bazillion bags for “fun” family travel and the general challenge of the three-nager phase, I’ve got all the opinions about this.
We actually wrote about this topic when Carter was just over a year old, and now that he’s nearly four I can report that my thoughts on having more kids remains unchanged. In fact, I’m probably more firm, confident and clear in my belief than ever before.
I am not meant to mother more than one child.
I have fully recognized my weaknesses as a mom. A limit to my patience. A touch of selfishness. A desperate desire for a little alone time. A serious need for good sleep.
All of those things would certainly get tested if another baby were added to the mix.
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. Another child should only be had because you want to love and raise another being. (and ps, who says siblings are actually going be friends anyway? I know many a case where siblings basically hate each other).
And while I look at friends who are having their second kids and in some case their thirds, I continue to have zero urge to go through it all again. Giving up my body to grow a tiny human, birthing said human and then diving right back into the sleepless nights, one million diapers and another year (or two) of breast-feeding?? As I prepare to say so long to my 30’s, I’m feeling very done with that phase. My one pang of nostalgia about my baby growing up resulted in us getting a puppy, further cementing my belief that I could not survive the baby phase a second time around (warning: puppies are a LOT of work people.)
We also continue to be very happy family of three. I have very serious concerns about what adding someone else to the mix would do to our current equilibrium. We can balance work and family life (though I haven’t done that so well these past couple weeks – so sorry about that dear readers). My husband and I can go on date nights. We can travel relatively easily. We’re not outnumbered. 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 applaud each and every one of you who do it. I just know that I’m not really up to the task.
While I feel very resolute about having my one and only child, the rampant stigma about only children often rears its ugly head. It’s been around for literally hundreds of years after all. 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 now which shows 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? As an only child by birth, I actually think I became more social and outgoing because I didn’t have a built in playmate at home.
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.”
Ding ding ding. That is me, all the way. I 100-percent believe that being a very well-rounded adult will lead to raising a well-rounded kid. So far so good anyway.
So there you have it. I don’t know if this minor diatribe was in any way 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? Any other mamas of onlys out there?? 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.
A Daily Something / Natalie Borton / Parker Etc / The Effortless Chic / The Proper Blog / The Life Styled / The Sweetest Occasion / Sugar & Charm / Oh Lovely Day / Studio DIY / Lovely Indeed / Sugar & Cloth / The Fresh Exchange