I have always been one of those girls who dreamt of a Prince Charming, having that beautiful grand wedding and kids of my own in my childhood. Call it the heavy influence of fairy tales like ´Cinderella´, ´Beauty and the Beast´ or Bollywood movies such as ´Qayamat se Qayamat Tak´, ´Maine Pyaar Kiya´etc or simply my personal wishes and dreams! So, in my twenties, my focus was on building a loving home and family. And, that is how my life was pretty much in my rosy, dreamy twenties.
My husband and I were such kids when we got married. And I conceived right away after marriage. In fact, the pregnancy took both my husband and I by surprise because we didn´t think it would be so easy to get pregnant. We were so shocked that we checked the results thrice before actually going in for the final verification with the gynaeaceologist.
Everything went perfectly well as I delivered a healthy baby girl who is the ´apple of the eye´ of her parents and grandparents.
As soon as my daughter turned 3 years, I was faced with growing concerns around my non- pregnancy status in a long while. The question grew stronger in its intensity as more friends within the mom network were getting pregnant with their second, third and some very brave ones, even the fourth. These mums and dads already had a plan in place and a target of a year or two to have their next child. And often, question me about our babymaking plan.
The truth was that we never had a plan in the first place. Never did! I would always tell them that out first child was never planned. So, the chances of planning the second one never arose.
I will be honest and tell you that my motherly urge to have another child was the strongest when my daughter entered Pre-K. That was the time when I missed her babyhood the most. I missed all that baby innocence! Those days and nights of seemingly never ending breastfeeding, diaper changing, baby talking etc.
But, my husband and I were not on the same page back then. He was and still is happy and contended with one child. In fact, he is a single child himself and always has ready answers for every apprehension I have about single children.
Surprisingly, the urge in me to have another child slowly surely faded into oblivion pretty much a year after my child started Pre-K. As the months and years have passed by, I do not miss her baby presence in my life anymore. The baby hangover is completely gone with the wind. In fact, the thought of being pregnant, breast feeding and going back to that stage is not welcome at this phase of my life at least! As school work, assignments and tests pile up apart from my other life pursuits, I cannot go through that whole pregnancy-motherhood cycle all over again. It is too much to take on at this stage. In fact, I have no shame or remorse in this admission and don´t think it makes me ´less´of a woman for thinking so!
I realize today that I have the luxury and a lot more time for myself, the home, my child and husband and also for my career pursuits. What´s the best part, you ask me? It is this – You still have the same surreal experience of being a mother as any other with two or more children. You have been there, done that and the only difference is that you are not going on a repeat mode when it comes to traversing that same wonderful path of motherhood. I want to embark on a journey that entails walking on other interesting varied life-paths as well .
My husband and I are on the same page and team after a long time on this issue. Finally, we are at a consensus and there are no more conflicts on this issue anymore.
The question of ´Why don´t you plan for another child?´ grew stronger in intensity by the time my child was 5 years old. Even today, I get asked this question by people.
´Having one child is not normal´.
´It will be nice if you have a son to look after you too. ´
´How can you be selfish when you were three siblings at home. How can you do this to your daughter and neglect her of the privilege you had as child?´
Some even went to the extent of probing about my fertility and if everything was functioning properly as it should and about my husband and my sex life. Of course, by this time, I heard it ALL!
My answer is a simple and straight-forward –´We are One and Done!´. Today, I am most at peace with my single child status because :
´I don´t need another child to fulfill me or complete my nest.´
´I don´t need a boy or son to take care of my husband or me. ´
´A child is a child irrespective of whether it is a girl or boy. Both are equally capable and competent.´
´My child is not alone because she is a single child.´
´Lastly, my fertility or worth as a woman is determined not just by the number of offsprings of my body but also those that shoot from my mind and spirit as well.´
´Some of the parents of single children I know are far from selfish. What makes you think we would be selfish to our own child?´
´My child is not self-centered or feels entitled owing to her single child status. She is just as sensitive, loving and caring as any other child in her age group who have siblings. Isn´t our child´s character shaped more by the way we, parents raise them, the values we inculcate in them and the teachings from their life´s experiences than the irrelevant fact if they have or do not have siblings?´
´Finally, what happens in our bedroom remains in our bedroom!´
There are pros and cons for everything in life. Pros and cons of having a single child, two children or more. I am sure every parent has their own unique set of challenges regardless of the number of children they have. One has to accept their own reality without trying to find fault with another person´s reality. Your reality is not mine!
Being a parent of a single child has many advantages from undivided love, attention, focus and quality time. This is the biggest satisfaction that I have as the mother of a single child. She has all of me to herself. I have a lot of energy and time to focus on myself – my career, my hobbies and interests as well without having to neglect my child´s. My child has a lot of friends in her circle and is wholly loved and engaged.
One major misconception is that parents of single children have it easier. On the contrary, parents of single children have to double up not just as parents but also as siblings at home. Can you imagine how exhausting it can be to give all of yourself to your single child with no brothers and sisters to come to your aid? But to our credit, we give our all to our single child which means that they are in perfectly good (read unselfish) hands.
Still don´t trust me! There are perfectly emotionally balanced and successful single children around the world as bright, shining examples. Be it Issac Newton, Leonardo da Vinci, Mahatma Gandhi, Maria Sharapova, Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, John Lennon, James Dean, Daniel Radcliffe, Charlize Theron, Natalie Portman, Ansel Adams, Hans Christian Andersen, Elvis Presley, Betty White, Danielle Steele, Eleanor Roosevelt, David Copperfield, Jim Lovell, Frank Borman, Matthew Perry, Selena Gomez, Nancy Reagan, Eleanor Roosevelt, Iris Murdoch, E. M. Forster and more. We don´t have such an exhaustive similar list in the Indian context as yet.
Science actually proves that being an only child has several advantages – They have higher IQs, perform academically better at school and college, more mature and confident, far from spoilt or entitled, have many friends and wait….. the BEST part – they are happier than children with siblings. Who knew, right! But, there´s still more great news! Scientific studies have proven that mothers with single children are the happiest. That´s like the cherry on the icing cake!
By no means, am I advocating a single child. Don´t get me wrong – I am neither ´for´ or ´against´anything. We were three siblings ourselves and I know the significance of the bond too well. Who knows I might just pop out a child or two in the future. Who can foretell the future really! If ever we have another child, it will be because it is God´s will and that Nature is taking its own course. No pre-planning business or motives for us at least! To each their own business!
My final word is don´t make baseless assumptions or hold unwarranted concerns before questioning the parent´s choice of having a single child.
The single kids are perfectly okay and happy! Really! Trust this mom of one!
(This post was first published here: https://www.mycity4kids.com/parenting/beauty-and-the-mom/article/one-and-done-i-am-at-peace-with-my-single-child-status)