I wrote a post a while ago on having only one child. At the time I was single, raising Marlowe alone, confused about what my next steps with Alex would be, and saw no big moves happening anytime soon for a family. I was happy and sad with what I had. Maybe not sad-sad, but I was accepting that what I had originally planned or thought I would want in my life (two kids pretty much back to back) would not, could not happen in my situation--- it was already too late for that. That was in November of last year. It's crazy how much can change in a years time, right? Previous to that, in February 2012, I wrote about my miscarriage. I became pregnant when Alex and I were together (again) and I found out I was pregnant about one week after we split. Talk about shitty timing, right? If we hadn't of split, I still think a lot of the emotions I had, would have been the same. Either way, with him or not, I don't think I would have been happy or sad. I just would have been there, in the moment, making the next steps to be in a comfortable place. In both of those posts, my realization that I would have a future with only one child were existing right in front of me. In both posts, I wasn't incredibly happy, but I was accepting that a one child family would have to be enough. Here I am now, August 2013, with one child and no certain future of having more. And you know what? I'm not sad. I'm beyond accepting. I'm actually happy and content with this awareness that having only one child is not only enough for me, but maybe just right for me......... at least for now.
(I'll get to that "for now" part in a second).
(I'll get to that "for now" part in a second).
I think that highlighted excerpt from the current book I'm reading says it all (one and only). When I look back on my previous posts, especially when I was single and miscarriaging, the main (and maybe only) reason I wanted a second kid was so that Marlowe wouldn't have to feel so alone. I wanted someone by her side when living in a split parenting relationship--- a friend, a companion, someone who could understand what she was going through and be there with her. What I didn't want was to raise two kids (specifically two babies or a toddler and a baby) by myself, struggling to find a moment in time to just be myself and by myself. (does that make sense?) I didn't want to get lost in the struggles of parenting and lose the joy of mothering. And well, even with Alex here, I would be lost and I would be unhappy if I were to conceive another. The reality of our situation and Alex's career has caused us all to make a lot of sacrifices. Our relationship and our family works now when we are okay with the scarifies we made and continually have to make. We have a nice life. And we afford what we can afford, save where we can save, and splurge when we see best fit. I am happy now because Marlowe is not a baby---- she is done breastfeeding, weaning, she's potty trained, but most importantly, I'm happy because she's a sweet, caring, and kick-ass little girl. She still needs me and will need me for a long, long time, but I don't need help in raising her, not like I wanted and craved when she was a baby, I now enjoy my time with her. Morning, afternoon, nights, its still her and I and we're content together, I don't feel like I'm struggling and I've lost myself anymore. I know the sacrifices I've made for her, for Alex, for our family, and I'm mostly (basically completely) okay with them. Would I like more of my own thing my own success outside the home? My own definition of who I am and what I am creating? Absolutely, but I think we all would, we all yearn for more, it's natural.
Alex and I have discussed the idea of future children. We did it the first time around, when we started this 'dating' process again, and somewhat recently. He hoped for more, (like me, a family of two children) and seemed sad when I said I wouldn't want more later in life, not after 30 and not with Marlowe being older and past the baby and toddler stage. But both of us knew more children wouldn't be coming soon, or soon enough, within my timing comfort. I want to raise kids on my (our) terms. I want it to be easier, I want extra arms and hands, I don't want to be struggling by myself. I would want and need more help with a newborn in our house--- but that's something I'm going to get.... not now, not soon, and probably not ever. Don't get me wrong, I have help, I can list off a million things Alex does for us and our home, but more time or what one needs with a newborn at home? That's not happening. The (maybe selfish) reality for me is that---- even if Alex could offer me more time, I doubt any amount of help will be enough with a baby here. Mothering a newborn is too difficult for me, I'm happy to be past it.
I like the idea of pregnancy and labor again. Did I say that? Yes, and I mean it. I would love to experience pregnancy and labor again. Pregnancy was great for me and I'd like to think it would be again. Labor was hard, but quick, and I'd like to think that if I were to do it again, I would do it better, with more preparation, and more grace.... basically, I would kick labors ass. I know not to say that I'll never experience this again and that Alex and I won't have more children, because I'm well aware that in this life, anything can happen. But I do know, that something I've thought since day one of being single and pregnant, is that there is and would be a resentment there. Being alone or with Alex, past resentment exists. It's not something I can explain to someone who hasn't been here in my situation, but it's this battle and no easy effort to be with someone you love and have to conquer over past resentments time and time again. Sure you forgive, move past, and get over things, but the past never goes away. Even in the families close to be me, experiencing pregnancy, labor, and baby raising together, I think "well, that must be nice." I look at new families and wonder how many fights I would start with Alex in nights of pure exhaustion and discomfort. Would I be a big enough person to not make angry comments of "well, you don't know, you haven't been here before."??? I don't know. In the calm, I'd like to think I could, but in the stress of a newborn, I don't know. I've envisioned and thought about labor and what it could look and be like with Alex here, more times than I can count. Through my own pregnancy, after, and even now, I wonder what that feels like to have the person you love more than anything support and share one of the most important moments in your lives and your child's life. (I'm sure he wonders it too). At one point I thought for sure, I would be sad--- sad to have him there for a second child, but not there for the first. Now, I'm pretty certain my (and our) joy would overcome past sadness, but with a big mess of hormones and everything else, one never really knows how fantasy ideals would compare to real life.
I don't worry about Marlowe and how she'll do by herself, without other kids. She'll have friends, lots of them one day. She's outgoing, smart, sometimes shy, but usually social, and always the kid who wants to share, entertain, and wants other kids around. I love the idea of big families. I see lots of kids, sharing, growing, adventuring, and making friendships together. But I also see those families and wonder at what cost is all this happening at? Emotionally and time wise we all know more kids means less solo time and attention with each or any parent. Environmentally, adding one extra person creates a huge, HUGE energy consuming, trash building footprint in this Earth. And at what cost? I'd like to think (and know) I'm smart with money. I've always been a saver, hardly a spender, and occasionally, when the time is finally right, and if I've saved enough, a rare splurger. I take my one child to the zoo. I spend 70$ a year for a single yearly pass. That makes our (twice) weekly trips to the zoo about sixty cents (thirty cents for each of us). We visit and I see families of three, four, and five kids, two parents, and I try, but can't imagine, calculating how much it not only costs for their one day visit but for their food, their clothes, doctors visits, their everyday wear and tear. Something so simple for us now, would be a something we would have to save for, for months, to make a yearly event. Even if money wasn't an issue, time and life is a concern with multiple children (for me). I like knowing that not only will I be able to live more of my life with one kid, but my one kid will live more of a life. More focus, more education at home, more time, more one on one connection, and less concern of "will there be enough of any and everything?". Don't get me wrong, I am fully aware that big families can have an advantage and sometimes multiple siblings is in fact a better fit for families--- mostly for the children, but for us? Marlowe does just fine by herself. I don't think or worry that she'll stand out or be a weirdo, or a selfish narcissist. I don't worry about being an over-protective helicopter mom because I don't have multiple kids to share my attention with. Whether there is one child or five, kids needs their space to grow, create, explore, and become their own individual, I know this and give her this. She doesn't need a full-time sibling for lessons in sharing and niceness and responsibility, she has those lessons. And lets be honest, sometimes children of big or small families won't learn these things anyway. I feel like my calling to mothering is fulfilled, completely to mostly. Like I said, no future babies. Just one is more than fine, BUT this thought and feeling has been popping in and out of my head for the past few months, and not wavering---- this thought that I'd like to adopt. I'm openly throwing this out there into the universe, knowing full and well this idea may never come to reality for our family, but if I had it my way, I'd like to adopt in the future. It's a newer idea for me, I mean, I never thought much about it growing up, and I've never seriously thought about it into adulthood, I had no reason to. But now, as I sit here with what I have around me and the family I love, I know I would love another child to support, help grow, and help give a good fighting chance to in this world. Not a baby, but a child--- I'd really like that. I like thinking about how nice that would be. I think adoption, more than any other option, would fit our family best. I don't know if it will ever happen, I'm not in the process of doing it, and I don't plan to be for at least a little while, maybe a few more years, but I thought I should put it out into the universe to receive. Adopting an older child into our home would make our lives more fulfilling.
Right now, I have a happy, well rounded, loving kid. Just one. And I couldn't be happier. Maybe one day we'll be a family of four, maybe not, but I'm grateful for my small family of three with just one child. On the day to day and in the special moments or big trips and adventures, I don't question if having another baby would add more to this life, because while I'm sure it would, the security and happiness I have in one is enough.
I've actually had a few people coincidentally email me about having only one child and their maybe struggles with it, asking how I felt, and if it was right for them, etc. I think everyone is different. Everyone has to raise their kid and have their family how they see best. No book is going to tell you what's right for you. It might give you more insight or more ideas you haven't thought of, but only you and your gut will be a good indictor how you should live and how you should raise your one (or more) child. Children aren't for everyone. Only children, big families, adopting, it's all so different for everyone. Not one option is better than the other. This is what works for us. I don't have much advice to offer, but if you're unsure or on the fence about a one child home, One and Only could be a good book for you.
Have a great weekend, friends. We're really looking forward to this one.