It’s been almost a decade since I gave birth to my son. And as I think back about that time, I always thought we would have two kids. I distinctly remember being out shopping for a stroller with my husband when I was pregnant and showing him the one I liked could easily be adapted into a double stroller. But once I gave birth to my son, held him close, and looked at the most precious, pure, and beautiful baby I had ever seen, I thought to myself, how could I ever love another baby this much? It was and still is the most incredible feeling I’ve ever experienced.
Almost a decade later and I still feel self-conscious about being a one-child family.
I feel like people look at us, and think why do they only have one child? What happened? It’s a natural question for people to ask, how old are your kids? Plural. I don’t blame people for wondering, according to the Pew Research Center, the average American family downsized from 3.7 children in 1960 to 1.9, and only about 20 percent of households with children are one-child families. We are a unique family in more ways than one, there’s no question about that.
Our decision to be a one-child family did not come lightly.
We researched and read books on the pros and cons of having an only child. I felt like, to some degree, that the psychological future of our only child was in my hands. I constantly worried that we might make the wrong decision, and in some ways, those worries still sneak into my head today. Society has a stigma around only children, that they are spoiled brats, they don’t know how to share, and they are lonely individuals.
Looking back, our decision was based on a few different factors.
I was 35 when I had my son, so my age was a big factor in having a second child. My first pregnancy was relatively normal, with no major issues and I felt pretty good all the way through. However, my labor and delivery were a different story. My sister, who is a labor and delivery nurse, was with us in the delivery room when my son was born. She told me that it was the second worst labor and delivery she had ever seen in her experience delivering babies. Needless to say, it was bad. My husband and I also both had careers that we wanted to advance, I traveled for work and the thought of adding another baby to the mix seemed unmanageable at the time.
In the end, I wouldn’t change a thing.
We made the right choice for our family. The dynamics of being a parent can bring both joy and challenges as any parent can attest to. Being a parent to an only child, I feel there is an importance of conscious parenting, creating opportunities for socialization, and encouraging independence, and also inclusivity. Instead of feeling guilty about our family circumstances, I am grateful for all the good things that we get to give our son as parents. Our son is an incredible person. He is a kind and thoughtful soul; he has a great sense of humor, and I love seeing his creative thinking skills go to work. He is my one and only.