Odd Women Out

In blog land and real life, many people who had children around the same time our Curly was born are either trying for their second child, pregnant with their second, or already have their second (with some thinking about their third…or fourth, not to mention all the twins). This is obviously not a strange phenomenon. What seems to be strange is that we don’t feel that way At. All. We also know of some couples that have one child, and are torn apart by thinking about a second…do they go for it or not, or only one person in the couple wants the second and the other one doesn’t. We know how lucky we are that we don’t have to think about that or come to a resentful compromise. We’ve been told time and time again, “well you never know…Curly is still very young,” but we know, and have known for a long time. We both still love holding and looking at teeny tiny babies…and playing with gurgling happy 6 month olds, but neither of us longs for another. Ever. There is no right or wrong here, it just is. But it’s a strange feeling to feel so…alone in this.

We are very happy for the good news and good fortune of those who are welcoming a new pregnancy or baby (or babies), but apart from ‘congratulations!’, we’re a little bit at a loss for what to say. Our experiences and feelings are so very different. We both know that Curly is an amazing child, and overall a pretty “easy” one at that. After his newborn days, he’s always been a fantastic sleeper and a very good eater. He doesn’t have insane tantrums. He is happy and inquisitive and in good health. We are so lucky to have him. But even so, it’s been hard and we’ve both felt such a loss of freedom. We are honestly so happy to see him grow up and get past the more difficult stages. We can’t wait until he can go to the bathroom by himself, make himself a sandwich, and hold an actual conversation with us (we talk to each other now, but you know what I mean). There are things we definitely miss, but babyhood and childhood is fleeting regardless. We both know that for us, we want to move onwards and not repeat those difficult stages.

This is a tricky post to write. Perhaps there are some people out there thinking, well, if you want him to do everything by himself, why did you have a child in the first place? We wanted to experience parenthood and we love him…we love seeing his smile, hearing his words, feeling his hugs. We are learning so many things about him and about ourselves. It is amazing to see what kind of person he is becoming, and we’re just at the tip of the iceberg. We want to show him what the world has to offer. We want to teach him what we can, and have him teach us what he can. We wanted to add a wonderful person to the human race and know that we helped him come into being.

But this post is more about feeling like an anomaly while getting lapped by those around us (and happily so!). It’s strange to live in a society that expects a family (a nuclear one at that) of 2.3 kids, and looks at you askance when you say “No more for us.” Not to mention choosing to have none at all. It’s strange for so many hits on an internet search for “only child” to make mention of whether or not it’s “selfish.” Not sure how it’s selfish to be able to focus all our attention and resources on one child, while still being able to live the lives we want. It’s strange when people think that I, being a woman and a “feminine” one at that, never want to experience pregnancy/birth. And it’s strange that after decades of studies proving otherwise, people still hold on to the stereotypes that only children are spoiled, socially awkward and feel desperately alone.

But we just shrug our shoulders and move on, because we know it’s the right fit for us. So we will keep cheering you all on from the bleachers, “ooh-ing” and “aah-ing” over your babies, and reading your family dynamics with interest. We just know our home and hearts are full with the 3 of us (plus our furry dog-kid of course).

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20 responses to “Odd Women Out

  1. Great post. We actually have a few friends who have decided to stop at one and I know they get the same comments you do. We originally wanted FOUR, until we had two. 🙂 Then we went through that thing where I wanted a third and we almost went ahead with it but Kim wasn’t really on board, so we put it off and ultimately decided to stop at two. It was hard on me to make that decision, but I also knew it was the right one. We also feel like we can’t wait for the kids to be a bit older and more independent, and the older Ian gets, the harder it is to imagine going back and repeating the baby stage again. I can honestly say that I look at people with babies now and feel a sense of relief that we’re past that part.

  2. i second the “great post” comment.

    it’s interesting to read about the social pressure you feel or perceive re: having 1 child. i’ll tell you on the other side, we feel a lot of negative judgment for having a big family. the reactions we’ve gotten from people IRL to the news of this pregnancy have been downright negative. i guess 1 is too few, 2 is appropriate, 3 is pushing it, and 4 is just plain crazy??

    but, you know what? whatever. all those people can take their opinions and get lost (i wrote something ruder, but i’ll try to keep this comment PG!). your family size is exactly perfect for you and mine is exactly perfect for me. and that’s all that really matters.

  3. As an only child, I have been asked by _many_ of our friends about my experience growing us as they are deciding to go for #2. And despite the fact that I tell them how much I loved being an only-child, the special relationship that I have with each of my parents and how when there is only 1 kid, its less about kids vs adults and more a tripod family with 3 equal members, many (if not all) have decided to expand their families. As you said, its the norm, its expected but particularly as demographic shifts are meaning that couples are having kids later, its strange that the answer is to have kids closer in age versus choosing 1…..thats all to say, that its something Ive been thinking/curious about too….Im not in your boat (W and I both wanted to experience pregnancy/birth, so we were set on 2), but I really appreciate this post. Its a different kind of pressure/questioning but the “when” of #2 gets raised a lot…

  4. Well written and thoughtful, I’ll be following along to see what everyone’s comments are.

    My brother and sister in law are in the “no kids for us” camp and I’ve watched for the last 13 years at how this has gone down. When they were still recently out of college, everyone (EVERYONE) just shrugged and said: “They’ll change their minds when they get older.” Well, they are older (36 now) and guess what? They didn’t change their minds. And that was right for them.

    I can’t imagine how undermining it is to constantly be told the same thing…that Curly is young and “Just wait!” and “You’ll change your mind and feel differently when he is older.” I remember the first time we all met and you told us you wanted only one. I was surprised (only a little, I guess because my default assumption when couples choose kids is that they will want a second) but I didn’t think for a second that you were going to change your minds. It was clear that you were intentional and thoughtful about the decision and it was right for you.

    If only everyone was this considerate when it came to family building…

  5. Well, you know how WE feel about it 🙂

    Great post!

  6. I think that all of the options you present are valid and should be respected. Those who remain childless by choice will have rich, full lives just as those who have one or more children will. It is just in different ways. I see no problem with having an only, and lots of benefits. For us, we just kept having a nagging feeling that our family wasn’t quite complete. Even when we felt like we’d made the call to stick with an only, we both brought up the possibility of another. It wasn’t that we were worried about Monkey being an only – more that we just felt we really want to add another child to our family. I also have the desire to watch siblings close in age grow up together. My brother is 7 years younger than I am, so we were never really close due to the age gap. I’m excited at the possibility of being a part of this sibling relationship.

    I hope that you don’t feel pressure from the blogging community about your decision. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having an only. Hell, I’m jealous that the decision came to you both so easily. We have been going nuts trying to decide! I’m just glad the decision has been made. And you know what? If for some reason we aren’t successful in adding to our family, I have no doubts at all that we’ll still have a fabulous adventure with our family of 3.

  7. I agree this is a great post. I can see the reasons that you would only want one child. I really understanding not wanting to move back in development. For me, at 21 weeks pregnant with our second, I sometimes have a freak out that we are going back to baby stage. I strongly believe that family size/planning is so personal and when you know it is right it is right. We always wanted 3 and if you asked us today we would say two is perfect for us. That may change, but I am doubting it. I am really sorry that you ever feel pressure from people. I don’t think you are selfish and I know you are giving curly an amazing life.

  8. Great post, your decision is your decision and the best one for your family, it sucks that everyone has to share their negative opinion just to satisfy themselves. Slightly different track, I wonder howmany straight, fertile couples are out there that given the need to plan incessantly would have made the same choice but another pregnancy just happened. Or did make the same choice only to have to review after ‘an accident’. Is this something that is more obvious and vocalised when a couple has to decide so adamently one way or another?

  9. *by vocalised I mean others feeling the need to weigh in

  10. We talk about this a lot, too… We think that we can give Lucas so much as a singleton, but I’m not 100% sure I’m all done. Yet, we are thinking he may be our only, too…. Our views change a lot.

    I think single children have a lot of advantages that multiples don’t and being a single is a good thing. There are always those people who chime in–warranted or not. More often not, right? 🙂

    We’d love to see you guys again one of these days!

  11. reproducinggenius

    I’m not sure why there is so much pressure to go beyond having one child, why having two is still considered the norm–perhaps it’s that feeling of needing a replacement person for each person in the couple. I don’t know, but it’s strange to me.

    I always think it’s pretty great when people know exactly what they want perhaps because I tend to hedge and rethink and second guess myself constantly. I can certainly see the advantages of raising my son as a singleton, but he seems like the kind of kid who needs a sibling, and I’m not quite done having kids (or I don’t think so anyway). Still, it’s hard to imagine us as a family of four as well. My wife isn’t sure either. So the fact that you (and others) know that this is it is something I really envy. You know for certain that when you’re done with the twos, you’re done with the twos and that’s it.

  12. reproducinggenius

    Somehow I posted before I was done…but what I wanted to say is there’s so much comfort in that knowing, just as there’s a certain comfort in knowing one will have more. I’m so happy for any of my friends who find this–whether it’s to have children, not have children, have one child, foster, etc. It’s in acknowledging what is right for our families and living that where happiness lies. What a lucky boy Curly is to have a family that is just right. 🙂

  13. R is for Rose

    While people have the right to their opinions, it’s rather rude of them to try and impose their opinions upon you. Just say “NO” to peer pressure.

    Also, GB is an only child. He turned out just fine.

  14. What a great post! It has been weighing on me, too, lately, as so many I know in real life and the blog world are beginning round 2 (or 3 or 4) and Speedy and I have decided to stick with one. I feel the incessant need to explain (limited resources, energy, time) and equivocate (well, we’re leaving the option open, so who knows?) but really what I feel is relief that we have made the decision, as “provisional” as it may be. I cheer everyone else who is bravely going forth into the fold again, but it’s not for me either. I’m glad to have such good company 🙂

  15. Thanks for sharing this. It is amazing how vocal and judgmental folks can be about other people’s decisions on what is best for their family. It sounds like you know EXACTLY what’s right for your family, which is all that matters. And Curly is pretty spectacular… 🙂

  16. thanks for sharing – I appreciate your confidence and certainty in your decision. Embrace your family, and knowing you are secure inr you choices makes all the difference. Thanks for sharing this with all of us.

  17. Next in line

    I like telling people “we aren’t trying, but we aren’t not trying either.” That really makes them think.

    We are also going to be a family of three (plus furry four legged ones). I could have more in a second, but F really really feels this is just right for her. I feel lucky that we have one and can both comfortably live with this decision. If we hadn’t spent 2.5 years ttc and weren’t facing IVF again, or had something in the freezer….but all of that isn’t the case. I feel pretty lucky right now.

    When I read your post I thought how it is so cultural. In some places in the world one is more common and in other places much higher numbers are.

  18. Great post! As I’ve written many times, I always thought I wanted another one, but after we hit the teenage years, I was/am so glad we didn’t! Big D is an amazing, bright, and happy teenager – but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have his bad days. Now that we are *this close* to him leaving the nest, the sense of freedom and excitement we already feel is cementing our decision. Sometimes one is enough. Good for you to stick with your guns and say what you want. It’s nobody’s business but yours!

  19. People can be so judgy about SO many decisions like this – having just one, having too many (as AOOL said), having them too close together/apart. Oy. I’m sorry you’re getting this feedback but it sounds like you have a great attitude about it and know what you want and that’s what matters. I’m sure the comments will die down in a few years once everyone sees you’re serious.

    To be honest, we’ve always wanted two and are obviously still planning for two, but after having Goldie I feel like I better understand those who stop at one. There are a ton of great reasons – not repeating babyhood being one of them. But a bigger one that I’m struggling with is not throwing an unknown wrench in our family. We’re going to do it and hope it’s a good wrench but it could be hard for Goldie and our family dynamics, we could be stretched too thin for a few years and on.

    Thanks for sharing this!

  20. Pingback: Left behind…by choice | 1 In Vermillion

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