When I was 24 and found out I was pregnant with my now-5-year-old, most of the people in my life thought having even one kid was an incredible endeavor. I wasn't necessarily someone who had grown up with parenthood as this huge milestone I needed to reach. I couldn't just as easily decided not to become a mom, and I'm pretty certain I would've had an otherwise full and rad life. But I did have a kid, and he's completely great, and I love being his mom. There are some things people should stop saying about "one and done" moms, though, mainly that we're somehow missing out. I mean, from the moment my son was born I had almost no doubts that he would be an only child, and to this day that decision hasn't left some two-kid-shaped whole in my heart. It's just that, well, only recently has that started being a decision that begs commentary from people in my life and also complete strangers.
As it turns out, being a "one and done" mom is not generally something that people just accept without question. In fact, they have a lot of questions, and holy hell are they not shy at all about hitting you with them. And the questions about having "only" one kid might not be so bad if they weren't so damn loaded with heavy implications about how we feel about ourselves and our kids. It's honestly a little shocking that people feel comfortable making such massive assumptions about such an important part of someone's life, but ask any "one and done" mom and you will get instant validation that, yes, people are extremely comfortable doing exactly that.
So, if you don't want to be one of those aggressively intrusive, offensive, and presumptuous people, maybe just totally opt out of saying any of the following — or asking questions that, when unpacked, leave these implications scattered around — to any one-and-done mom you encounter.
We Don't Like Being Parents
Hey, this totally might be true for some moms. You can love your kids and not love being a parent, and there's no way to really know for sure how you'll feel about being a parent until you literally commit for life to doing it. So hell yes, I'm sure there are parents out there who don't love doing it. But that's still not anywhere close to the most common reason why some people choose to only have one kid. You really can't know why someone makes the family planning decisions they do, unless you ask, and you shouldn't ask unless you know someone really well, and if you know them really well then you likely have an intimate awareness of their life enough that you don't need to ask. So here we are, back at just not asking people about their family planning decisions.
Just as it is with asking someone "when they're going to try for the next one," conveying any assumption to a "one and done" mom that she's stopping at one kid because she doesn't like being a mom could be incredibly cruel. Maybe she just prefers to have one kid, but also, maybe she really would love to have more children but can't, and your comment not only triggers that painful fact but makes her feel like she's perceived as someone who doesn't value and love parenthood. It's brutal, especially considering how it's just something you could very easily not bring up at all.
We Don't Love Our Kids
If I don't order a second cheeseburger, does that mean I don't like the one I ordered?
Our Kids Are Lonely
I mean... no? We just schedule more playdates, keep them involved in more activities with other kids, and hang out with them more ourselves. It's not actually complicated.
People who think "one and done" parents are "lazy" for only wanting one kid have to be saying that while thinking about the completely exhausting reality of having multiple babies/toddlers at the same time. Because if they thought about the very long childhood that happens after that, and how your single child has no built-in playmates to keep them company, they would realize how much more taxing one child can be on parents when you consider the whole gig over time.
Guess who is spending countless hours building skyscrapers and making silly videos with my 5-year-old son and listening to him talk f*cking endlessly about sinkholes for an entire weekend? IT'S NOT HIS NON-EXISTENT SIBLINGS, I'LL TELL YOU THAT. Nope, it's me, and it's draining. I'm not saying it's harder than having multiple kids (what kind of arrogant monster would pass definitive judgment on a life they've never lived?), but it's sure as hell not what I would call "lazy."
I mean, if you think that recognizing what family structure works best for the needs and wants of all the people currently in it is selfish then... I guess? Yes, wanting to have more — more time, more resources, more focused energy — for my one kid and for myself is a huge part of my lack of interest in having more kids. There are definitely benefits to a bigger family, and I've never discounted them, but the upside is having more for those of us already here. And that's incredibly valuable, too.
And when it comes to the ways that I'm benefitted by the surplus of time and resources resulting from only having one kid (which I inarguably do), I still don't think that makes me selfish. That argument only holds up according to the same trash logic that shames moms who work instead of staying home with their kids and perpetually makes parents feel like sh*t for wanting to continue being well-rounded, happy people for their kids. Yeah, I have more time for work and other pursuits than I would if I have more kids, and that makes me happy, and being happy and fulfilled makes me a wildly better mom than I would otherwise be. I would rather be this mom to one kid than be the mom I'm sure I would be if I was stretched thin by having more kids.
Our Kids Are Going To Be Spoiled
Parents of multiple kids probably use the dynamics that come from having siblings as a means of instilling social skills like compromising, sharing, considering the needs of others, and accepting that one cannot always get one's way. That's great, you guys! Parenting is all about using the tools at your disposal to teach your kids the lessons necessary to prevent them from growing up to be assholes. So way to go! What's incorrect, though, is the idea that those same things can't be adequately built into a kid if they don't have siblings. Parents of solo kids can (and do) teach the same things — we just use the tools at our disposal, which might be different than yours but no less powerful.
This truth goes both ways: I was one of four kids, and we were poor, and I still somehow came out of childhood with a thoroughly spoiled disposition. Lackluster parenting begets sh*thead kids, no matter how many siblings they do or don't have, and awesome parenting results in well-adjusted kids on the same conditions.
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