“I don’t know” I reply, “Maybe sometime… maybe never.”
Maybe, none of your business, I feel like saying. To me, having another baby is such a personal decision and it’s not something I take lightly. It often feels borderline invasive that so many people (who aren’t close friends or family) are interested in the shape of my family unit. What feels even stranger is that so many people I’ve encountered vehemently disagree with parents making the informed decision to have only one child, no matter what that family’s circumstances or how that family came to be in the first place.
While we haven’t shut the door completely on more children, at this time, focusing my energy on the child I already have seems the most responsible decision I can make for my family, not just for me.
Having babies wasn’t something I had reached the point of wanting (or even considering) when it happened and the adjustment period wasn’t easy. I am beyond grateful for my daughter who is becoming the most amazing inspiration I ever could have dreamed up, but in truth, I am really just scratching the surface of being able to enjoy her. I’ve fully embraced being a mother, but that transition was hard fought. Mountains of financial stress and total mind-fuck of being a parent made the first two years an uphill battle. It’s taken me what felt like an eternity to feel any sense of ease and sometimes those moments are still fleeting.
But having a brilliant child who hugs and kisses me a hundred times a day and loves life so much is incredible. It has taught me about who I am and how to be a better, more meaningful human being in this world. But that doesn’t mean I’m ready to do it all again, even if it means my daughter may grow up without a sibling. And I really think that’s okay.
Plenty of people will say there’s something wrong with that and that children should have a brother or a sister to play and learn to share with, that it’s selfish to have only one child. But I really don’t see that. In my mind, it would be far more selfish to have more children that I didn’t know I wanted. I imagine my kids would end up feeling the impact of that far more than if my daughter was brought up an only child with friends and two parents who love her unconditionally. To me, making the best decision with the information you have at hand is the best thing you can do. To have more kids, just to fit some picture perfect mold of what many believe makes the perfect family, would be doing my daughter a huge disservice.
The first time, things felt severely out of my control. If I were to get pregnant again, I would have to know that it was a good choice for me and my existing family, not a result of too much red wine and The Notebook on TBS.
There are also so many wonderful things about having only one child that can be totally undervalued. I love being able to focus on what she wants to talk to me about and take the time to answer her questions (upon questions, upon questions). Helping her develop the confidence that I probably lacked a bit growing up and being able to give her so much of myself is a gift and I don’t believe it’s to her detriment. In a world where confidence is our biggest ally, I consider it my most important job to help her feel secure enough in herself to navigate through it.
I’m not at all saying that it’s not possible to do with more than one child — of course it is. But I feel far more confident in my abilities to lovingly and wholly nurture one child than I do two. Being an effective parent means too much to me and I want my child (or children) to be a source of joy, not angst (though that is sometimes par for the course). As I reach the point of feeling confident in myself as a mother, I shudder to think about returning to an anxiety-ridden state while trying to hold down the fort and bring up two well-adjusted kids.
Maybe I’m not giving myself enough credit, but I just don’t know right now and it’s not something I’m willing to risk. My sanity is too important to me, as is the amazing bond I have with my child. It’s like my husband always says, “I’d rather have one kid and a sane wife.” Right?
There are surely times when I yearn for that new baby scent and squishy bundle of baby blubber. There are also times when I think how nice it would be if my daughter had a full-time play-mate. But for me, it isn’t reason enough to rush into it, not even close. I think it should be my and my husband’s responsibility to give her as much attention as she needs to feel loved and wanted, not another child’s. While some parent’s fear their children getting bored, I often strive to make sure she is not occupied every minute of every day.
She has plenty of time with other kids, as she attends preschool three times each week. But her solitary play has given birth to this amazing imagination that is like something I’ve never seen. While it’s sometimes difficult to pull myself away in order to give her that time, I see it as an amazing part of her development to learn to entertain herself. Maybe it will make her different than some other kids, but I can’t see how that would be bad.
My daughter is my greatest teacher and closest companion. Only child, or not, I know she will be just fine. I believe children adjust to where you set the bar and what your expectations of them are, not just how many siblings they have because there are too many other factors that make up a family. Perhaps I will change my tune in a year or a few short months, but please, don’t rush me. Right now, I’m still getting to know my one amazing child and there is so much more to know.