Remember when you had your mom or sisters badgering you to have kids? And any time you saw them, the first thing out of their mouths was usually something like, "Are you pregnant yet?" Yeah, I do too. And as someone who didn't even know if she was going to have kids in the first place, it was nothing short of annoying (and it was often way more upsetting than that). When I did eventually decide to try for a kid and spent the next 10 months or so with heartburn, acid reflux and swollen feet, all to give my family (OK, and myself) the sweet baby they so wanted, I figured the conception bullying would end. Oh no, if you give those squawking hens an inch, they'll take a Duggar-sized mile. They apparently wanted another baby out of me almost immediately.
My son wasn't even a year old when the rumblings of having another child began creeping into their voices, and pretty much anyone else who felt they had an opinion about the contents of my uterus. When were we going to have another one, they wanted to know. Didn't we want to give our poor and lonely son a sibling?
But the thing was, we got what we wanted in a vivacious, beautiful boy, and I got what I had never expected in a three-day-long labor that resulted in a someone traumatic c-section. So yeah, I'm good on the whole multiple births thing. But, like I said, when you have a kid, people suddenly get so concerned about how soon you'll be growing your small family — and they aren't shy about it.
I don't mean to imply that having a difficult labor, or a particular harrowing experience in any part of parenting, is the sole reason why people decide they only want to have one kid. For me, I was perfectly fulfilled with my one-child family, and I had absolutely no desire to go diving back into the birthing pool, so the combination of those factors makes up my decision to have only one kid. For someone else, it's likely a different, decidedly personal array of factors. I just wanted to be clear on that, lest my story make you think that anyone who stops at one child is simply "afraid" to have more. Maybe they just... don't want more kids. And that's fine (as is, for the record, being afraid. You don't have to do a damn thing you don't want to, for any reason, and it's no one's place to judge you for that.)
I've heard so much guilt-ridden "advice" but as I try to potty train an unpredictable and sometimes clinically insane toddler, with increasingly adult-sized diaper surprises, I stand firm on my "one and done" rule. As such, here are a few things I could easily go the rest of my parenting career without ever hearing again.
"He's Almost Two — Are You Trying For Another Yet?!"
Yes, because we should always base our life choices on a stressful time frame that becomes a ticking clock every single day. No, thank you. My husband and I are pretty content with just one kid and can see ourselves feeling that way forever. But if (and that's a huge if, like "if Miley Cyrus ever stops trying so hard") we ever did decide to try for another, it would likely not be based on our current kid's age, of all things. And it would definitely not be based on what someone else thinks is the best age difference for our kids to have.
I mean, I get it: Siblings have the most fun if they're close in age, yeah yeah, blah blah. But are you kidding me? Am I supposed to drop everything as soon as my son's second birthday party comes to a close, strip off my frosting-smeared clothes, let down my sweaty hair, and tell my husband, "It is time"? Eh. Probably not.
"Don't You Worry That He's Going To Be Lonely?"
Honestly, no, that has never crossed either of our mind's when it comes to our son. I have several siblings, only a few of which are even in my life, and some of my friendships with other people are stronger than those bonds. Or, at the very least, my older friendships compare greatly to my sibling relationships. Only children actually grow to be more confident in making relationships and in themselves overall. He'll be that much more likely to really care about and cultivate the friendships he makes along the way.
The whole factor of loneliness hardly crossed my mind as we made the unspoken decision to be a one-kid kind of family. Not because I don't worry about my kid's feelings and growth but because I know I don't need to when it comes to something like this.
"But Don't You Want A Girl?"
See, this one always gets me, and I hear it far too much. And every time, I feel like a robot on the fritz, internally saying, "Does not compute. Does not compute." Because I can do everything with my little boy that I'd be doing with a little girl. The only difference I see is that I would be spared the task of wiping poop off a set of very small nads when changing diapers.
And I don't know if the people who say this are just the most optimistic people to the point of making things happen with their minds, but I'm fairly certain that you don't get a choice in the gender of your baby. So... even if we were intent on having a girl for whatever reason, what is the guarantee that we even would, right?
"That's Just So Selfish."
If it's selfish to know my limits as a mom and stick with the kid who is healthy, happy, and only sometimes insane, then sure. Sign me up for being the most selfish jerk of a mom ever.
But the way I see it, there are too many parents out there overwhelmed with their litters, stressed out beyond belief with their kids running through their homes like tornadoes. I can be down with the fact that there are plenty of families whose choice to have a lot of kids works for them. But for every one of those, there are a few who clearly cannot handle more than one child, or are miserable with more than one child, and I gotta think that some of them only had more than one child because people pressured them into feeling like the had to. I'm just not interested in that being my life. (By the same token, if I truly wanted a lot of kids, I wouldn't let anyone talk me out of that either, so it's not like I'm bashing large families — I'm bashing anyone who tries to pressure anyone else into living their idea of a ~best life~ instead of letting people follow their own bliss.)
I don't know if that's necessarily true for us, but the dynamic we have going is one I wouldn't soon give up. Our son interacts with other kids daily and then comes home to get a healthy amount of attention from both of his parents, who get to have a quiet and clean house come 7:30 p.m. Please don't call me selfish, because it kinda just feels like your jealousy is showing.
"He's Going To Be So Socially Awkward."
Remember what I said about him growing to have a stronger appreciation for the relationships and friendships he makes? Yeah, that goes hand in hand with this. I don't know about you, but all of the social skills I have (or, you know, maybe sometimes don't have), I learned from being at school with my friends. When I was a kid, my brother and I mostly hated each other. As in, physically fighting eith each other when we were home alone. As in, one of us slamming the other's fingers in a door and the other throwing a fork. So yeah, I didn't really learn much about social norms from having siblings.
And if we're being honest here, anyone can grow up to be hella awkward in social settings. If you were born that way, you'll be inherently awkward, regardless of the number of siblings you have. No amount of 3-day labors on my part will change that.
"You're So Lucky To Have Just One."
I know I said that I look forward to quiet time every evening, which I totally do. But we didn't decide to have just one kid so we could grab a sitter and gallivant around town, doing shooters and shots. Are those the same thing? See, I don't know because no, I do not use having one child as an excuse to re-live my early 20s. When I hear this from parents of multiples, it honestly makes me sad. I totally get the stressors that a lot of kids bring, but it's not their fault you opted for the huge family route.
And let's be perfectly clear here: Our house is mostly calm, but the Terrible Twos is very real. And our 2-year-old is sometimes manically insane, making things very far from perfect and making us not feel as "lucky" as you say, with that sad little sign and shoulder hunch. I'm lucky to have a bomb-ass kid, sure, but the fact that he's an only child doesn't contribute to that.