When It Comes To Kids, One Is Not The Loneliest Number
I can take my daughter to a five-star resort. I can buy her whatever shoes she wants. I already have her college tuition saved up. (Have I mentioned that she’s 7 years old?)
This is by no means because Iâ€™m rich or have family money. In large part, this is because my daughter is an only child.
Yes, of course, itâ€™s also because both her father and I work hard and have saved (somewhat) wisely. I didnâ€™t ever plan on having an only child but, then again, I never planned on having more than one either. (In fact, the one I have wasnâ€™t even planned.)
This is just how it ended up. But, oh, how I wonder how parents with more than one child do it. I take my daughter to a movie and dinner and, with snacks and parking added to the mix, I wonder why the $100 I took out earlier from the ATM that evening is gone.
At the airport, with my daughter trailing slightly behind me pulling her own carry-on luggage, I wonder how it is possible for a family with two kids to have to pack five suitcases, when I only have to pack one suitcase for the both of us. I wonder, sometimes, why anyone would want to have more than one child.
Around resort pools, I see mothers and fathers trading off children and no one (except sometimes the kids) are really relaxing or enjoying themselves all that much. With only one child, I can afford to take her to places where they have amazing children programs, so we both have a good time.
When I want to take a nap, I put on a movie for my daughter. And, yes, I actually do fall asleep. When she wants something for dinner, thereâ€™s no argument. Itâ€™s either a â€˜yesâ€™ or a â€˜no.â€™ She has ballet lessons and goes to summer camp, and when I see how much these programs and summer camps cost I do wonder, â€œHow do you do it with more than one?â€ I know what itâ€™s like to have one child sleep with me. How do parents with more than one do it?
Yes, yes, Iâ€™ve heard all the arguments. â€œThey play together and keep themselves busy,â€ friends will tell me at play dates. Iâ€™m, like, â€œReally? Because all I see are your kids arguing and making each other cry!â€
People wonder, â€œWonâ€™t she get lonely?â€ I argue that I had three siblings and I know what â€˜lonelyâ€™ feels like. â€œDonâ€™t you want her to have someone else out there in the world to lean on when youâ€™re dead?â€ is another argument. Sure, but for every adult I know that is still friends or even speaking with their siblings, I can point to another friend who hasnâ€™t talked to their siblings in years.
â€œBut whoâ€™s going to take care of you when youâ€™re old?â€ is another thought. Well, I didnâ€™t bring her into this world to be a caregiver to me. (Note to self: start saving for a retirement home.)
â€œArenâ€™t you worried sheâ€™ll turn into a spoiled brat?â€ is another question I get asked often. Spoiled, yes. Brat, no. With one child, you can spoil them (and why not?) but you also have the time and energy to explain why they need something or donâ€™t need something and how others in the world are not as lucky. You have the time and energy to explain generosity and kindness, because youâ€™re not doing four loads of laundry and being a constant chauffeur. When I say my daughter has never asked for anything outrageous or thrown a tantrum, I am not lying.
The truth is, I think that even as children if you already know you can have something, you are less likely to want it. (I will argue that if you leave out candy from the moment they are born, they will not go nuts when they see a chocolate bar later in life and you wonâ€™t have to bribe them with candy ever.)
Perhaps this is because I have a daughter â€“ and what mother really doesnâ€™t yearn for a daughter â€“ that I see the pros of having only one. Or maybe Iâ€™m just kidding myself.
Because there are moments â€“ rare yes, but they are certainly there â€“ when I hear a roomful of children laughing (and only laughing) and I think, â€œGod, I would give up anything to have another.â€