In the NYT Motherlode Blog yesterday, a mother wrote about the judgement she felt when she announced she was having her second child. I’ve never felt that type of judgment, but I have noticed that people have definite ideas about the benefits or drawbacks of having more than one child. At the risk of sounding strange, I have to admit that having a second child really took the pressure off and helped me become a more relaxed parent.
The pros of one child? It’s cheaper. With all your resources devoted to an only child, he or she will be spoiled with every opportunity you can afford. You can travel lightly and frequently, and devote all your energies and dreams to this child.
The cons? He or she will get lonely. And become selfish and not learn how to share. What happens when you die? You are going to leave your poor child all alone in this world without a sibling?
I never thought about any of these things. We didn’t plan on having a second, so I fully expected my experience with my first child to be my one and only experience with parenting. Then we found out we were pregnant again.
I have to say, after the initial freak-out, this knowledge took a lot of the pressure off. I always sort of worried that I was paying too much attention to my child. The necessity to give some attention to another child would allow my first to have a little more independence. Also, since it was the first time I had done it, I placed a lot of stress on monitoring my child’s milestones. Was he crawling in time? Walking in time? Talking in time? Having a child who took his time conquering these milestones will allow me to relax about it the second time around.
I never thought my then only child would be selfish or lonely. I just worried that I wouldn’t be able to let go as much as I needed to. Having another kid in the house allows me to ease up on my older child and learn to give him the independence he needs to grow. And once I accomplish this with him, giving the second one the space she needs should be a cinch, right?