It’s all too often that we are the only three-person family at our friends parties or gatherings. I recall my husband mentioning it to me at a 4th of July party “Well, here we are again, the only couple with one kid.” The way that he said it almost sounded like we failed in some way. I know he didn’t mean it that way, but it has stuck with me since then.
Those feelings of some sort of social inadequacy just get bigger when people ask “oh, so you only have just one?” Like it’s simple, easy, or we are less of a family because we “just” or “only” have one. It’s almost as if they ask that question and nod with a little sympathy because of our inadequacies (I know that’s not true, but insecurities can make it feel that way sometimes). It literally makes me cringe when someone says it, because I know the next sentence will be something about how we will save money on college or avoid teenage sibling arguments. It can almost sound like they are saying that to make me feel better about the only-kid situation (enter eye roll).
What they don’t know is that it actually makes me kind of sad.
You just never know what other people are going through.
If they only knew! If they only knew how our lives have put us here, in the “singled out” category. Problem is, we started our family a little later in life. The cards have been dealt and more kids just haven’t happened “yet” and maybe they never will. If I’m being honest here, it does make me feel sad to think that we will have “only” one. Maybe part of that sadness comes from the pressures of society and part of it is guilt. Or perhaps it’s because I want my child to have a sibling to share her life with. Some people willingly choose to have one child and that’s great, but for us, it wasn’t a choice. After exploring many (expensive and rather lengthy) options, more kids may or may not happen for us. So what do we say to that?
Love the one you’re with
We are incredibly lucky and we need to recognize that. We have been blessed with the light of our lives. It sounds ridiculously cliche, but our worlds revolve around her. No, she is not spoiled with things, but she is certainly spoiled with time and energy. We love our “family” days, our “family” hugs and just being together. We rush home to see one another and tell each other “I love you more” multiple times a day. All this love will surely grow a strong human, and I’m grateful to be a part of that. Yes, I know how incredibly lucky we are to have one child!
Keeping the faith
My faith in God’s plan for us has helped me gain strength as a parent and in general, as a middle-aged adult (yes, I said that. I am old). Sometimes I don’t understand the plan and I wish for something else, but I feel that what’s meant to be will be. You don’t have to be religious or even spiritual to agree that sometimes you have no control over certain situations, as hard as you try to control them.
The best compliment I ever received came from my teenage niece. She told me “you were born to be a mother.” That is true! I have so much nurturing inside of me, which is also why the thought of having “only” one child can make me feel blue at times. I have learned to use my nurturing in other ways. I use it towards my family, my friends and animals. The days I volunteer for school reading groups is the highlight of my week. I love those kids, they are so sweet! Nurturing feels right to me, and I’m so lucky that I have people around me who allow me to express that in different ways.
So yeah, I guess for now we will be “singled out” at parties and events. We are the couple with “only” one, lonely kid (poor thing). Sure, there are pros and cons to having one child versus more, and we have to accept the good with the bad. I am so grateful to have my one and only, because some people don’t even get to have that. At this point I am choosing to hold on to the family that I do have, as we travel along this wild ride called life....no matter where it takes us next.