Dear Society, what if we truly and actually only want (gasp) one baby?
I see your knowing smiles now that my sweet baby has become a toddling terror. When I don’t feel like a wine with dinner, and those looks are exchanged across the table. He’s 18 months. It’s time.
They must be trying.
When I’m at the grocery store and my little guy is tossing cereal boxes into the cart with an energy that only comes from being a toddler, and I get the well-meaning yet inevitable “You think he’s a handful now – wait until you have two!” comments.
And it’s not just directed at mums. My husband has started hearing it at work too. “Oh, your son is 18 months? Must be time to get busy again,” haha, wink wink.
I get it. I do. It actually feels like everyone I know is pregnant with their second right now. And each time my social media feed shows yet another baby announcement or gender reveal, I’m hit with a wave of nostalgia.
I hope you won’t stop reading if I tell you I’m one of the freaks who adored pregnancy. Every niggle and sensation. Even being sick made me excited because I knew it meant my levels were high. And it’s also important to say I love babies and children, and I love that my friends are having more babies for my baby (and me) to play with. I’m the first one to throw the baby shower or drop by with a lasagna.
But I don’t love having to combat familial expectations from strangers in the cereal aisle. Or the sad, sympathetic looks when they hear my affirmative response to “Just the one?” like something must be wrong.
Why did society decide as a whole that a family is not complete until there are at least two kids? It made sense in ye olde times because families needed to be big in order to support each other. But what about now?
Is it because of the whole companion thing? Because, although a noble idea, I can’t think of many (kids or adults) who are closer to their siblings than to their friends. Is it the idea that they might grow up to be a bit odd or even selfish if they miss out on that relationship dynamic? Because my ‘only child’ friends are some of the most caring and wonderful people I know with incredible relationships with their parents, friends and partners. Maybe it’s the multi-kid families we see on TV?
LISTEN: How many kids is the most stressful? Jay Laga'aia and Holly Wainwright discuss, on our podcast for imperfect parents. Post continues after.
I’m part of the issue too. Until I had my first, I always assumed I would have two kids. That’s how it works, right? That’s what everyone plans.
… but what if it isn’t?
What if I love that at the park, my husband and I play together with our son, instead of separately chasing around two little ones and not seeing each other? Most marriages inevitably take a hit when kiddos come along, and the last thing we need is to be literally pulled in two different directions.
What if I love that my husband and we still can make time for each other and ourselves? Barely, but we can and we do.
What if I love that I can give my little boy my absolute all and everything as a mother at any moment, with no distraction? If he needs me, I am there.
What if I love that when he has a nightmare, we can all fit in our bed and have cuddles and tickles in the morning?
What if I love that we will be able to give him so many more experiences? Visit so many more places? See so many more things together? He had his first international flight at five months old, and I want him to fill his passport.
What if I love seeing how friendly and outgoing he is? It is a myth that ‘only children’ have trouble socialising—it only makes him all the more excited to meet new friends at the playground or go to visit our friends’ houses. (Which by the way, we’re able to do).
What if I love my little tribe of three, and I think we’re perfectly complete just the way we are?