Remember Lonely Boy from Gossip Girl? That’s not what I am talking about, but good show!
I am in awe by people who seem to know how many kids they want and I feel like two is the magic number for most.
I am from a family of three and as a kid (middle), I swore I’d never have three kids. Four seemed much more sensible and I’d have two girls and two boys. I do not recall the boy’s names but the girls would be Connie and Victoria. Fast forward a few years and things changed. Two kids seemed doable but then I had David and for the most part, right now I think one is a great place to stay.
To be fair to my child, there is nothing he did to make me rethink having a second and I am not totally saying a second won’t happen but time is ticking and is life is good.
David is five and I’ve noticed I rarely get asked these days if I am having a second. When he was one… two… three… and even four I got asked a lot! I hated hearing “you can’t just have one”, “you need to give David a sibling”, “that’s not fair to your child”. REALLY people?
Why can’t you? Why is two so much better?
There are good and bad things about siblings. I love(!!) my sisters but the best thing I ever heard from an only child was “you don’t miss what you never had”. I never had a brother but I also never had cable tv as a kid… I missed the cable more than having a brother. Sure, a brother could be great but a brother could also be a big jerk.
As I said, from pure observation, a two-kid family seems like the safe spot – a place of least judgement and as we all know these days, it’s all about the judgement!
The Childless: You are selfish! Do you not like kids? / The Onlies: You’ll have a spoiled brat! / Parent’s of three: Now you’ve out-numbered yourself, what were you thinking? / Parent’s of four or more: Are you crazy or super religious or both?
So what are the Pros to an only child? Here are a few I came up with:
- Education! Daycare! Sports! Travel! Oh my. News flash, Kids are expensive!
- You have more space. One kid = one room and when they’re done with a toy, you haul it out of the house and move on.
- We have the time and energy to read at night together and can both attend his games, events and parent-teacher meetings if we want to. No need to worry about managing time for the other child.
- If we think David will be bored on the weekend or on an outing we can bring a friend. Borrowing a child is cheaper than owning a child in the long run. Plus you get to return them when you are done.
- In exchange, when someone takes our child, we are child free!
- We have room in our backseat for our dog and room in our trunk for the junk. And by car, I mean car. Not a mini-van.
- It’s easier to find a FREE babysitter for one kid. More kids are more work and free babysitters may be more reluctant.
- You do not have to worry about dividing up food, money and love.
- Did I mention travel? Plane tickets are hella expensive. So are museums and eating out.
What are the Cons?
- You bought all of this stuff for your baby/kid and are now stuck either donating, selling or giving away a lot of perfectly good things.
- Family passes! They usually cover a family of four. Families of five or more pay additional so why can’t we pay less?
- Guilt, yah I have guilt but what mom doesn’t? I feel bad when he’s bored and I can’t find a friend to borrow for him.
- The future. Will he wish he had a sibling to pawn us off on when we’re really old? Will he wish he had someone to bitch with about the crazy parents? No doubt.
- Wasted good names. Yah, I have a name bank. Names I’ve held on to just in case I have a second. They’re awesome and may never be used.
- Pressure. As Eminem said “You only get one shot”. Damn, we better not screw it up.
Now that most of my friends are at a place where they’ve settled on their family head count, I have secretly made a club. I call it the Onlies Club and if you have an only child (for whatever reason), you are in! I will admit, sometimes I sigh a little when I find out I’ve lost a member. I like to think of us as a united bunch going against the norm and raising spoiled brats together. Or at least we can simultaneously roll our eyes at the people who assume our brats are spoiled. You know what I am saying.
Let me know if you are an only child or only have one child. I would love to hear all about it. For me, finding new onlies is like finding coins in your couch! Or, let me know if you are still undecided or set in your ways. I am always fascinated by people who do not overthink Every Damn Thing.
In the meantime, here is some online reading I found for people who may be thinking about only one…
- Lauren Sandler is writing a book: One and Only “I’m an only child with an only child of my own. I’ve found that discussing the choice to stop at one kid is as loaded with anxiety, doubt, judgment, and misinformation as any conversation I’ve had. I got the anxiety, but the judgment seemed a little nuts. So I spent a couple of years investigating who only children really are, whether stopping at one kid is an answer to the question of how to reconcile motherhood and modernity, and what more of us might mean for the world. I learned a lot about myself, and I learned a lot about our assumptions…”
- The New York Times Sunday Review (Sandler again): Only Children: Lonely and Selfish?
- New York Magazine: The Onlies – Only children are just like most New York kids— sophisticated, precocious, sometimes a little lonely—only more so.
- Today’s Parent: Parents of ‘onlies’ say: One kid is just right
- The New York Times: Still Lonely in a World With More ‘Onlies’
Photo: Invisiblecrown’s Lonely Boy notebook
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Also: School lunches. They suck. And I barely manage to make one.