At bebo mia, our mission is to support the modern family. In this new blog series, we are featuring some of the modern families we have had the privilege of calling clients and friends. Here is Adriana’s story of her decision to have only one child.
When people ask me how many children I have, I say “one”. And before they have a chance to say anything about how my daughter needs a little brother or sister, I also add, “We’re one and done.” (a term, by the way, cleverly coined by an acquaintance who also has chosen the only-child route). The decision to have one child did not come lightly to us. When my husband and I were first married, we didn’t even plan on having kids. And then, after the birth of my niece, and with biology kicking in, I was suddenly hit with the urge to have a child of my own.
When my husband and I finally decided to talk about having a child, we said that if we did have kids, we’d have only one. And when I got pregnant, that was the plan that we forged ahead on, and most definitely felt the same after she was born.
But then, when my daughter was barely one, my friends started announcing second pregnancies. And that was when the teensy little urge to have a second started to kick in. I told myself that I still had at least two years or so to think about it (and possibly convince my husband). A couple of years passed. More friends started announcing second pregnancies. Some were announcing third pregnancies. My self-imposed deadline was looming.
I will admit right here and now that at that point, the urge to have a second child was purely from an “I don’t want to feel left behind” sentiment. And I have to admit that part of me wondered what a potential baby #2 would look like. Would I have another girl, or would I have a boy? Would he or she look more like me, or my husband?
I started broaching the topic with my husband, who still wasn’t too keen on the idea of another little one. At that point, we hit a hurdle. I thought I wanted another, and he didn’t. One of us would “lose” this battle, because we didn’t really want the same thing. As selfish as this sounds, I did not want to lose. But here’s the thing: The decision to have kids is BIG. It’s not like buying a jacket, kitchen appliances, or even a house. This is a life-long commitment to another being. It is a serious job, and requires a serious amount of work.
Was I wanting another child because I truly wanted one, or because I was being guilted by society into having another child? For those of you with two or more kids, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Meeting complete strangers on the street, and having them tell you just how darned cute your child is. And then launching into the “When will you be giving your son/daughter a little brother or sister?” Getting looks of horror from said strangers when you say that you’re not really sure if you want another, as if you’d just told them that you have a rare terminal disease. Being told that you’ll regret it if you choose to have only one.
And so I started doing some soul-searching. If I was to bring another life into this world, I had to be pretty damned sure that this was what I wanted. In the end I realized a few things. First off, I am EXTREMELY grateful that I have a child, and having her was one of the best decisions of my life. Did I enjoy being pregnant? Yes, and no. Did I enjoy the changes to my body, the weird aches and pains, and the lack of mobility. Nope. Was I grateful to be carrying a little life inside of me? You betcha. For me, the postpartum period was rough for a number of reasons, but needless to say, I had postpartum depression, and it was a rough patch. I know people who have had PPD the first time around and are okay with the possibility of it happening again the second time around. I’m not okay with going through that again. But I’m okay that I know my own limitations.
The fact of the matter is that my daughter is happy, healthy, and as a family of three, we are at a point where we enjoy a fabulous rhythm in our lives. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
I’ll admit that at times, it is difficult to have an only child. Between the ages of 3 and 4, my daughter started talking a lot about siblings. Many of her friends had siblings (most of them being younger siblings), and she was at an age where she LOVED babies. So the idea of having a little baby to cuddle totally enticed her. She also noticed that her friends with older siblings or siblings closer in age had, what it seemed, a 24/7 playmate. As an only child, you have a few options for playmates: play with your friends, play by yourself, or play with your parents.
While my daughter does on occasion play by herself, she is a very social little girl, and much prefers the company of others to solitary play. As a result, my husband and I end up being her most constant playmates, since we’re always there. That can be challenging at times, because we need to balance kid entertainment with household chores and errands. It would be easy to plunk my daughter in front of the TV in order to “entertain” her, but we try to achieve a balance. Yes, there are days when we DO plunk her in front of the TV, but we also try to engage her with outings to the park, family bike rides, trips to the ROM, crafting, and, my personal favourite, baking. It’s tough, and I won’t pretend that I’m supermom, because I’m totally not.
We also try to arrange as many play dates for her as possible. Most of our friends with kids have 2 or more kids, and in the past year, whenever we get together with these friends, my daughter has taken to playing with both kids, which is really endearing.
We also have a number of friends who are “one and done”, and I do enjoy hanging out with them, because I’ll admit that sometimes the pressure from the world of you-need-two-or-more-kids-to-have-a-complete-family is sometimes too much, and I take comfort in the fact that there are others who, like us, have made a decision to love and cherish one single child.
Are any of us wrong for choosing one child, 2 children, or even 4? I don’t think so. There is no right or wrong answer with regards to the number of children to have. We don’t judge those who only have one child because they can’t have any more children. And we don’t judge those who choose to have large families. And then there are those who know that they aren’t parent material, and therefore choose not to have children. Regardless, it’s a personal decision.
So I guess in the end, you might be reading this and be thinking that my husband “won” the decision on the number of kids to have. That is not only simplistic, but it is also an extremely unfair statement. We both came to the same conclusion by taking different paths. The end result is that in the here and now, what I know is this: I have a daughter. She is 5, she is awesome, and I love her with all my heart. And for that, I am forever grateful.
Adriana Villela is a Toronto-based lifestyle photographer and the owner of ÜmlaPhoto. She is mother to a very feisty and creative 5-year-old. When she isn’t capturing the beauty of life through her lens, you can find her on family bike adventures or hitting her favourite climbing gym with her family.
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