I’m 41 and I don’t have a single tattoo. For my generation, that’s basically unheard of. As they say, though, people don’t usually stop at one tattoo. It’s too addictive. That was enough for me to figure I’d better not even start. You know what else is JUST like a tattoo, they say? Children. Once you have one, it’s so hard not to at least entertain the idea of two. But sitting here at my ripe advanced maternal age, very happy with the one child we worked our butts and bank account off to have, my partner and I are doing the unthinkable. We are only having one child. The emotions around this decision are fiery, multifaceted and intense, but at the end of the day, I’ve decided to celebrate that there’s nothing “only” about our only child.
The reasons for having one child are logical, valid, and 100% personal and there is no reason to belabor a pros and cons list. I’m sometimes sad my kid won’t have a sibling to call and complain about me too when she’s an adult, but I also know that siblings aren’t guaranteed to be close friends. I would love to see how parenting a second is different from the first, yet I’m elated to know that we will never have another sleepless, teething baby again. I know my love for a second would only grow my heart, but I don’t have to worry that it wouldn’t be the “same” as it was with her. These are all logical, but parenthood is a matter of the heart, so logic doesn’t really apply. Accepting one (or accepting “no more”) takes time and thought, and honestly, the resolution always feels like it’s delicately teetering with the possibility of being tipped to either side at any time.
But the epiphany that helps me control the teeter is that I wasn’t meant to be a mom, I was meant to be her mom. This means that any “what if I had just started having kids earlier?” thoughts get squashed in an instant, because if that had happened then there would be no her. I might always wonder whether a sister or brother might look just like her or have her sweet, nurturing nature, but the glory lies in the fact that it was written in our stars to watch her sweet nature with undivided attention. Of course, I’m not immune to baby fever. Babies are delicious and intoxicating. But it helps me to realize that I don’t want another baby, I want to remember and relive her as a baby. Because despite your doubts during the time in the trenches, memories truly do start to fade…and it’s brutal.
We are only having one child.
I know the stereotypes. She will be spoiled. She will be selfish. She will be bossy. But in addition to her loving extended family, we have also built an amazing (and big!) chosen family, full of kids and adults who have her back and love her to pieces. And I don’t see it as a burden to work extra hard to show her how to share and be generous to others, I see it as a beautiful opportunity. Spoiled? Maybe. But she will also be taught that we humans belong to each other, so material things mean nothing unless they are shared.
So yes, in our family there will only be one first day of kindergarten, one set of first steps, one tiny face adorning our walls, and one anxiety-fueled night of waiting up for the first time she goes out in her (spoiled) hand-me-down car. But the universe chose her to make our family a trio, and the stars aligned to make it happen and there is nothing “only” about our child.