‘It will be easier with the second one’.
‘You can save that for your next one’.
‘You’ll forget about all this when number two comes along’.
‘When are you having another baby?’
Maybe I missed something when they were handing out leaflets at the 12 week scan but I don’t remember being told that one child is not enough. Despite this it doesn’t stop countless people from making the assumption that my wife and I are only pausing momentarily before ploughing on with spawning Harris Junior MKII. When we say that we have only ever planned to have one child, the reaction ranges from mild surprise to outright horror that we could leave our little boy without a sibling.
What seems to surprise people most is that this is something we have planned, not a decision that has been forced upon us. We discussed how many children we wanted long before George was born and although we reserve the right to change our minds in the future I don’t think we will. As Connor MacLeod famously roared in Highlander, ‘there can be only one’.
At this point I am normally asked something like ‘aren’t you worried he will grow up lonely/spoilt/needy/all or the above?’ If he does then I’m doing something more fundamentally wrong than not giving him a brother or a sister. I don’t believe being an ‘only’ child is a one-way ticket to childhood loneliness and I will do everything I can to give George a happy life.
Some people don’t understand our decision but I don’t understand why anyone would want a huge family. Having four or more children seems like insanity to me but everyone makes different choices. Some of those who are trying to understand our choice usually start by asking if my wife and I have brothers or sisters. The assumption seems to be that we were both only children and don’t know any other way or that we have siblings we that we don’t speak to anymore. This isn’t true.
I have an older sister who I love dearly and feel very close to but I have always valued her more as an adult. I have some memories of playing together as kids but we mainly did our own thing. What I needed as a child were more friends my age not another sibling. It may sound harsh but I hope George can make enough friends through his life to fill any void that may be left by not having a brother or a sister.
There are many reasons why I am happy with one child but the biggest is that I don’t want to struggle. I want to have the time and energy to be able to give George all he needs in the hope that he never feels like he has missed out. I want to be a loving husband and be able to support my wife so she can feel she is something as well as be a mother. I don’t want being a parent to take over my identity. This all seems very selfish now that I have written it down but it still feels like the right decision.
Are you an only child or part of a big family? Do you feel strongly about how many children you want? All comments are welcome.