‘Just’ The One
This week, my friend Tom wrote a fantastic post about his reasoning behind why him and his husband are sticking to one child, and it got me thinking about my experiences and how it’s unlikely we will ever have another.
When we first started our parenting journey, our aim was always for the one baby. For us, it would have been greedy and somewhat optimistic to even contemplate having more than one when we hadn’t even been successful with one yet. At one point, we didn’t know whether one would even be possible.
When we did eventually fall pregnant, every now and again I was drip fed questions as to how many [children] I’d like. As if choosing the quantity of babies you’d like was as easy as picking apples. Plus, this was before our first one had even arrived yet! When T did eventually arrive, that dripping became a full on gush and the questions soon poured out of some. Despite only giving birth a week previous, people, sometimes strangers, asked whether I would have any more. Some even asked ‘when’. As if that was my only goal in life. As if you’re meant to have more than one.
The questions didn’t stop as T grew older either, if anything they got more frequent. By the time T had reached the age of two, we were pretty much asked the same question regarding more children at least once a week by new faces we’d hadn’t seen for a while, or strangers that T had befriended at soft play or in a cafe that I in-turn got chatting to.
Over the years we’ve practised shutting people down very quickly when it comes to questions like this, as more often than not we’re simply not up for a discussion as to why or why not T should or needs to have a brother or sister, or why, as two women, we can’t simply have more children. It’s no ones business but our own, if I’m honest. Our common answer covers all avenues but doesn’t invite further questions or reasoning. It usually goes along the lines of this;
Them: When are you having another one?
Us: Not anytime soon, we’re quite happy with the one, thanks.
By the way, if you really must ask this question, the best way you can ask this question is; ‘Have you thought about having any more?’ or ‘Would you like another one one day?’, however I would probably avoid asking the question as most of the time, if a couple haven’t had another baby by the time a child is 3, they’re probably not thinking about it or there are complications. That’s just my experience anyway! There are also some that want a longer gap between children – and why not. Either way, stop asking!
Anyway, I digress.
See, the problem with society is that once a woman becomes a mother, or more so, when someone becomes a parent for the first time, people automatically assume that you’re going to want to add more to the mix, eventually. As if that’s the end goal. And I don’t get it? Who made that assumption that two, three, four is better than one? What’s so bad with one?
When you then announce that you’re sticking to the one, people often pass judgement on the parent for only wanting the one. There are others that then feel ‘sorry’ for the child who’s now going to be all alone for their rest of their lives because they don’t/won’t have a sibling! How absurd.
For us, however, here’s the thing.
We’re actually happy with the one.
Here’s the part where I’m also going to let you in on a secret…
We’ve thought about having a second one, and I mean really thought about it, on more than one occasion, and if given the chance and/or money we probably would go for it. But at the moment, circumstances that I can’t go into right now mean that we simply can’t. And I’m ok with that.
– Financially, we can give T everything he needs and more, as well as go on nice holidays and treat ourselves every now and again. With two, we would probably have to put T’s swimming on hold, amongst other nice things. This sounds somewhat selfish, but I value a certain quality of life for my family.
– I’m able to still feel ‘present’ with the one. Adding another one to the mix would make me worry about not being around as much for T, especially based on the fact that Sharon and I work full time and I have limited weekends as it is! Of course if we had another one we would make it work, just like others have for hundreds of years – but it’s still a worry of mine.
– Plus! Sharon and I also win 2-1 when it comes to parents vs. child. This, of course, is somewhat tongue in cheek, but I feel like a better team when we’re both concentrating on T and can offer him our undivided attention.
At first, when Sharon has put to me that we may never have another one, it did genuinely make me sad. But only because I was having the choice taken away from me and taken out of my control, not because my desire to have another child was there. It would be lovely to have another face in our holiday photos, or someone else at the dinner table or in front of the TV watching a film, but then I remember the pain I went through to get T.
I lost two years trying for T.
I turned down job opportunities and was in a constant state of ‘being careful’ with everything ‘just in case’. I don’t know if I could go through that again. I worry another two years could pass by again and suddenly I’ve missed my first born growing up for the sake of another baby. A baby that isn’t guaranteed. That doesn’t sit right with me at the moment.
I’m loving life right now. The three of us make a good team and I feel like a good parent. That’s not to say that I, or anyone else, is less of a parent for having more than one, but for me – one suits us just fine right now.
I’ve actually avoided that question about another more than I expected, but I think that’s because we made the decision to stop at one very early on and I spoke about it very openly on the blog and across social media.
But even being so open about it, we do still occasionally get it, and usually from total strangers! And the worst part is when people don’t respect that it’s your choice and might not be an easy one. For instance, a random stranger we stopped to talk to once as O wanted to stroke their dog asked if he was our only child and when I said yes and we couldn’t have any more this woman proceeded to say, “oh, but I bet he would love a sibling, wouldn’t you?” Yes, she actually then directed that question at my son… my son, who, is absolutely desperate for a sibling and tells us regularly he wishes we could have another and gets so upset when I explain why we can’t no matter how much I also wish we could have another. That was one time when I really got mad, because I don’t understand the thought process that makes people think it’s okay to ignore what you’ve said and push their own agenda on you.
But mostly, as I say, we have avoided it thankfully. In fact most of my friends and family know exactly how much it would cost us to have another and that we simply can’t. We’ve talked about fostering for years, even before we knew if I could have kids myself, and I still hold out hope we can share the love we all have in that way in the future. But for now we’re too sick to even think about it, so we’re cherishing the very special bond we have as a family of 3 🙂
There’s nothing selfish about wanting to provide a certain quality of life for T, or for the two of you! It’s perfectly understandable. I always assumed we’d have more than one but now we have one I realise just how full on one is and can see the appeal of sticking with one in order to give them the time, attention and resources that would have to be shared if we have another. I still think we’ll have another but I definitely feel more conflicted than I ever expected. And as you say, it’s no ones business but your own, and people don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes when they flippantly ask do they!
Wonderful post. We are in the same position in that we both work full time, and our time is precious. O is so wonderful and so eager to take in the world around him that I would feel guilty for taking time and attention away from him right now. Ideally we would like another child (we have a frozen embryo) but if it didn’t happen we would be ok with that too. It is interesting how blunt people can be with questions – I constantly get asked if I will carry the next one, or if we would use my eggs to which I have to awkwardly reply to both that I am incapable of doing so. The notion that every woman should be pregnant as many times as possible seems to be well ingrained!