I am an only child. My mother struggled with the decision to have another child. When I was 10, she became pregnant, only to lose the child in the fourth month. After that, the case was closed.
Now I’m a mom to a beautiful toddler boy, and my own decision to try for a second child has been a difficult one. I wonder how many other “only child” moms have secretly struggled with this decision. Despite the pressure to pump out numerous children, and the assumption that we all must want to have another, there’s probably a part of all of us that thinks life for our little one might be better if he was the one and only.
Growing up an only child opened doors for me, doors of deep closeness with my parents, both collectively and individually. Time and space existed to cultivate real understanding of who my parents were as people and I treasured our little trio. I would glow, standing in between my two parents, both their hands in mine. I imagined us the perfect triangle.
There was no “kid’s table” in my house. I sat with the adults and relished participating in their conversations , hearing anecdotes that were deemed “over my head.” I think this is where I became not only a good communicator but extremely compassionate for people’s struggles of all ages.
Did I long for a playmate in my youth? Sometimes. But I had an active imagination, a bin full of dress up clothes, and a slew of girlfriends who felt like sisters. I never felt I lacked for anything. In fact, I felt like I got the best of what my family had to offer and somewhere in the back of my head, wondered if a sibling would have taken away from the positive upbringing I had.
As I got older, I admit that I judged people for having more than one child. Not that I wasn’t happy for people’s happiness and I’ve always loved kids, but I noticed little people that only knew how to be with other kids, always segregated by their age and often unable to even make eye contact with adults. Unconsciously, I began my own commitment to raising an only child, wanting what I had growing up, and raising a child in what I thought was the “best way.”
When I met my husband, the eldest of three, he began to question some of the spoken and unspoken beliefs. He pointed out how sensitive I was to criticism, how guarded I was about my “stuff” and my “space.” I can tell you’re an only child, he said. And his tone wasn’t in the most positive light. I began to wonder if my upbringing was as “perfect” as I had thought it was.
My husband told me stories of fights and reconciliations with his siblings , of the little team they developed when their parents would fight, of how they always loved to sleep in the same room, even if they had the chance to sleep separately. My siblings have shaped my character, he said.
I became curious about siblinghood and started asking more questions. I learned that though there were some rocky sibling relationships, most adults I knew treasured their siblings, attributing much of their happiness to the unique relationship they shared. Most parents told me of their own young children and how regardless of age gap or gender, their children loved one another immensely and watching that love bloom was the greatest thrill. All of this was new to me.
When my husband told me that for sure he wanted to have another child, I told him I needed more time. My company, Beyond Mom, was finally growing and I didn’t want to lose my momentum. But maybe it was time to contemplate what going “Beyond” really meant to me.
I felt great physically and mentally. My support system was intact and I knew I would rediscover my rhythm between work and family. And most importantly, I began to see that my three year old was his own person and could conceivably grow by becoming a big brother. That was probably the biggest revelation to me, and I believe energetically opened me up to the possibility of conceiving.
And then something crazy happened. I got pregnant. We weren’t trying. It just happened. And immediately, I felt incredibly concerned and protective of my pregnancy. I began to think about our family as it grew and I realized: I am already a mom of two.
Am I scared by what I don’t know? Totally. But I am now completely open to watching love unfold in a way I’ve never experienced it and that feels thrilling and for me, unexpectedly liberating. If one child is the way for you, go sister go! It’s an amazing option with a million blessings too. But if you do go for Baby # 2, well, I’ll see you on that train and give you a wink of encouragement. I hope you’ll give me one too.