When my husband and I started to get serious and talk about marriage we also talked about children. We both knew we didn’t want a large family but the both of us definitely wanted children. Two was the number we talked about. I was one of three and my husband was one of two. I never in a million years would have thought I would “only” have one child. After all only children are spoiled and lonely, right? At least that is what people have said to us.
Yep, no matter how small or how big your family is you are going to get unwanted advice and opinions. I put only in quotations above, because it seems as if many people thought because we only had one child, we had failed at parenting. I felt when someone said you are only going to have one child.. it was like an old Jewish mother saying: “You are only going to have one bowl of soup? No, you need more. It’s good for you. You love it. Have another”. And to be perfectly honest…I asked myself that same question. Are you really only going to have one child? Won’t he be lonely? Won’t he be a spoiled brat? What horrible parents to not give their child someone to play with! These are all things that went through my head. They are also things that have come out of people’s mouths. It is easy to do. I am guilty of it too, so I do not hold it against anyone. Having grace is very important in parenting. People say the darndest, hurtful things. I look at people with more than three kids and think oh sweet Lord they are nuts. But, that is because I do not understand. God did not wire me that way. That is what is so great about being a parent. God gives you a unique personality that is perfect for each one of your children. I think this even true of those who can’t have children or have adopted children.
My husband’s Aunt is a great example of this. She never had any children. You would never know, because she is everyone’s favorite and children adore her. I see that God has used the fact that she does not have children to take care of her family when they needed someone. If she was busy with her own children, that may have not happened. She wouldn’t be available. I have seen this with other people in my life as well. God used them to be parent-like to those who had horrible home lives. I mention this because I wanted to encourage everyone no matter how many children that you have that God is going to use you in great ways to be there for each of your children or any other child that comes into your life, whether they are yours or not.
Now, I wanted to also switch gears and go back to my struggles. Not to make anyone feel sorry for me but to be an encouragement. I looked everywhere for encouragement on this topic of having “only” one child and I did not come up with much. Which scared me? I thought, “Oh my gosh, am I wrong? Am I going to damage my child? Is he going to be left all alone without anyone when the Hubs and I are gone? Is he going to hate us for not giving him a sibling?” All of these very valid questions and things my husband and I talked about. We knew that we would need to be the house that all the kids loved to play at and so our son would not miss having play time with others. We knew that we needed to work on getting him and his cousins together. Family would be very important to have around and we pray that if he couldn’t confide in a sibling that he could a family member or friend. We also knew that only children can become a bit spoiled…as they have no competition. I have to say we aren’t doing so well in the whole no spoiling part…but my kid is awesome and I want to give him everything! He’s going to need therapy, isn’t he? Join the club buddy:)
As I was saying before I wanted to be an encouragement to any parents out there who may be struggling too. I finally got a peace about it around 2 years ago, but honestly still had some low moments. We always said we wanted our children to be two years apart. I had very high blood pressure during my pregnancy and ended up staying in the hospital quite a bit and then finally had to have C-section. My doctor mentioned that if I wanted to do this again(this…meaning get pregnant) that I HAD to lose weight. When I had my son I had actually just lost about 15 pounds. Still was overweight but was doing better. Then I gain a bunch of weight during my pregnancy but lost most of it right away. Again,still over weight, but could very easily have got my butt in gear and lost the weight I needed to have a safe second pregnancy. But….I didn’t. My husband reminded me that we really wanted our children close together but I just wasn’t motivated to lose the weight. I have always battled anxiety and many times wasn’t sure I was fit enough to have one child. Physically and mentally I was not in a good position to have another child and as the years went on it was pretty clear that I would not. Most recently I have been having some health issues and found that I have a cyst on each one of my ovaries. I also have a whole bunch of other issues with my uterus that I will spare any details on. Let’s just say getting pregnant the first time was truly a miracle. I do not like the fact that my body is messed up but in a way it was comforting to know that I might now even be able to have another child.
During these hard times of battling my weight and some physical issues and then dealing with my anxiety I saw the Lord working in my heart and bringing me to a place of contentment. No matter what your reasoning is for having one child I pray that you will seek God for that peace too. I began to see that in order to be the best mom I could be to my “only” child he needed all of what was left of me each day. I was spread pretty thin. Many days it took all I had to get out of bed. I had some issues with my stress hormones that left me exhausted even after a full night of rest. I do have to say I started to blame myself for not giving my son a sibling. Do not go down that road. It is not good for anyone. Sure if I had my stuff together and was fit I may have had another child. But that is not what happened and that is ok. God blessed me/us with the most amazing son. The Hubs and I joke saying if we had another child it would probably be the spawn of Satan! I feel blessed to even have one child!
I think one of the best things I did to help me be at peace with having one child was to be in constant communication with God. I let him know my worries and struggles and He brought me some great encouragement. One was just a few months ago from my son. If you are curious… he goes back and forth wanting a brother or sister. Actually, I think he said he would want to give his sister back if he had one so… there’s that:). I talk to him about being an only child. He told me that he did have a lot of brothers and sisters though. I looked at him a little confused and said “oh really???” He said: “Yes, I have brothers and sisters in Christ!” Oh man, if that didn’t just melt my heart. Encouragement from the mouth of babes. Just what I needed. I did not need to look to any scholars or blog writers…my own son had the answer!
My next little nugget of encouragement came from a mom at my son’s school. She and I see each other everyday. We exchange a smile or a quick hello, but have never talked in length. I was having a particularly hard week as my husband and I finally made the decision to have the possibility of having another child cut out…literally and figuratively:). I had peace about it but when it becomes final you start to question yourself. My husband was fine, but as a mother I think we process this sort of thing differently. Anyways, I see this mom again as usual after school. This time we are walking by each other at the same time and going the same way. Usually she is early and she is walking back to her car while I am walking to pickup my son. So we say hello and then talk about the weather as strangers do and then we ask each other how old our children are. I say my son is in first grade and she said her daughter is in second. Then she asks if I have any other children………”No, just the one I reply.” She says, “Me too, isn’t it special?” I was so taken back by those words. I could barely get anything out. I think I said something back. We then went our separate ways to pick up our very “special” only child. It was not about the quantity anymore for me at that point but the quality. That seems weird to talk about in terms of children… but true. It is about the time you get to spend with them. All the special moments you will have with each one of them. It is about the quality of the love you give them. It is so special that I have an “only” child because he is a gift from God. It is special if you have 6 children. Your house is overflowing with quality love, but not more than those with fewer children. They say you don’t divide your love between all your children, it just multiplies. If you have no children I still believe that quality love is there and spread to other children who may not get that at home or maybe to other family members or friends who need it. That is the great things about love it can be shared with anyone. I am so blessed to have my little family. Although we are small in number, our love is huge!