I’m an only-child married to an only-ish child*, thinking about having an only child. Truthfully, my experience as my parents’ only daughter and the only grandchild on my mother’s side has been nothing but pleasant. We’re a very close family. My parents mean the world to me. My grandmother and I were until the very last moment one soul divided into two, and I’m glad I had all her time, energy and love to learn everything there was to learn from her.
I knew my parents worked harder than many to make ends meet, but I still had a privileged childhood with lots of positive learning experiences, which wouldn’t have been possible if there had been more mouths to feed. Their sacrifices gave me, and still give me, access to a world and a life they never had, and I hope I will give them enough satisfactions to thank them for their efforts and love. When you’re an only child, being the cause of satisfaction and bragging with friends is a must!
I was and still am quite social. My childhood wasn’t lonely. I played and bonded with neighbors and schoolmates just fine. I’m also very fond of solitude. Being able to be on our own and feel content is a skill not exclusive to only children, but I’m glad I got it in such a natural and simple way. I could sit in the living room reading an entire afternoon while my mom and dad worked, and relished the silence.
The one thing that is very only-child of me is that I’m neurotic and bossy. I tend to assume that I’m charge of everything, until people tell me rightly to tone it down, listen and re-group. Over time, I’ve become much more of a team player, particularly at work.
As a kid and as an adult, I’ve never had a problem sharing material or emotional “things”. My parents taught me to value community and the good of the group rather than individualism for the sake of it. However, I also like “my” things. If something is mine (house, work desk, sporting equipment, car, whatever), I want it clean and organized, and no one can mess with it unless they get permission. This has been a fun one with my better half, because as a fellow only child, he also thinks that “his” things should look and be a certain way. It was pleasant and fun to turn his and mine into ours.
We’re not sure if we will have one or more. I first want to welcome this baby, discover myself as a mom and my husband as a dad, and devote at least five or six years to their development. If by then we feel like one is still our lucky number, then that will be fantastic. If not, then we’ll see if adoption is a path we can explore or where to go from there.
*My husband has two half siblings who are 14 and 17 years his junior. He isn’t particularly engaged with them, which is something I wish he would work on. At the same time, mental health comes first and if he doesn’t want to deal with his family atm or ever, then he doesn’t have to.