By Laura Poce
I have a beautiful, healthy two-and-a-half-year-old boy who is the proverbial apple of my eye. His was not an easy conception, both literally and figuratively. I never saw myself with kids. I just could not picture being responsible for another human being’s existence. Or getting fat. Or giving birth. Eventually though, once I was past my twenties and found myself married to a good man, I started to listen to my biological clock. My husband and I decided we could handle the huge responsibility that is parenthood, so we started the “process” of conceiving. It took two years and three rounds of intrauterine insemination, after which we were finally blessed with our little boy.
Now, though, I have to ask, why isn’t one child enough? Why am I being bombarded with the question, “When’s the next one coming?” by pretty much everyone who takes more than five seconds to talk to me—my mom, best friends, colleagues, crossing guards? Why do people assume that I am just at a stopover on the baby train: “When the next one comes…” “Oh, don’t worry, the next one…”? It’s like your first child is just practice: a first draft, so to speak.
I ask these questions because, apparently, my family is incomplete, and I am doing my only child a grievous wrong by not providing him with a sibling. And the sooner, the better, say the people! “He can’t be an only child!” “Who will he play with?” And my personal favourite: “What about a back-up kid in case anything happens to the first?” (This one was provided courtesy of more than one close relative and friend.) I have some answers to these questions, so I’ll do my best to try to explain them to all those well-meaning do-gooders out there who are worried about the welfare of my boy.
The only-child issue: I know lots of only children, and most all of them are just as happy and well adjusted as the rest of us. And, let’s be honest, most children’s problems are blamed on the parents anyhow, only child or not, so what have I got to lose?
Who will he play with? With his friends, hopefully. He already has a few who have not disowned him merely for being a child without hope of another sibling. Oh, and we’ll play with him. We like to, and even though we’re not as exciting as some toys, he seems to enjoy our company most days.
As for worrying about a replacement child, this seems a fairly morbid reason for having a second child. Although I think I understand why these people suggested such a thing, I’m pretty much convinced you should actually want to have two children in the first place, not one, with one waiting in the wings. And, let’s not forget the women who have been trying to have a second, but are unable to. How awful to constantly field these questions and comments with their chin up and a smile.
I know this one response won’t stop certain people from thinking a one-child family is somehow incomplete, but perhaps those of you enlightened readers could pass along this message to them: Sometimes, one child is all you can have. Sometimes, one child is all you want. But, most importantly, having a family, one child or more, is a very important, very personal choice.
Laura Poce is a teacher and mom to her one-and-only child, Zachary.