I’m afraid when I tell people I am 99 percent certain my daughter will be an only child, they think it’s because I don’t like being a mom. Truth be told, life with just one child would be easier. But that’s not the reason. My daughter is happy and full of life. Watching her grow and learn and develop is a miracle. She’s my best friend. My sidekick. My purpose. And that’s all I need. I feel complete.
But there’s still that 1 percent that nags at me wondering if it’s the right thing to do… to not give my daughter a sibling. So to justify my decision, I came up with a list.
The upside to having only one child
More financial freedom: They say the cost of raising one child to the age of 18 is $250,000. This, of course, does not include helping to fund a wedding or a college education. Currently, my husband and I pay $900 per month for preschool in a state with the most expensive childcare costs in the nation — and believe it or not, she’s at a really affordable church preschool. Realistically, even if we wanted a second child, we’d have to wait until our daughter is in kindergarten to afford it. And I don’t know if I want a five-year age gap between kids (not to mention, I’m not getting any younger!). Some would argue that money isn’t everything, but I do enjoy the luxury of offering my daughter all she wants in life, and sorry, but that also includes material things.
The ability to travel more flexibly: This coincides with financial freedom a little bit, as we’d have more money for travel and fewer seats to pay for on an airplane. However, traveling with kids in tow is not easy! By having one child, we’d be allowed the opportunity to go where we wanted, when we wanted with any agenda we wanted, and without the car seats, strollers, and pack n’ plays. Lots of traveling will also help our daughter to become cultured and well rounded.
I can be a better mom: I have a type-A personality. I’m high-strung, impatient, and get frustrated easily. If I had more than one child, I would be stressed out and anxious more often because there would be more chaos and less time. Basically, I’d be a crabby mom. I’d rather be the best, happiest version of myself for my daughter.
I don’t have to lose myself: With more than one child, it’s constant chauffeuring, sports, activities, school meetings, play dates — you no longer have time for yourself, let alone your husband. You don’t have the freedom to finish that novel or cook your favorite meal (chicken nuggets again?). One child allows you to balance time with your child, while still being able to enjoy your own hobbies and passions.
Only children are special: Research conducted by Lauren Sandler, author of One and Only: The Freedom of Having an Only Child, and the Joy of Being One, shows that “singletons are more mature, intelligent and cultured.” I mean, the proof is in the evidence.
Only children are good at making friends: Contrary to the myth that only children are loners, typically they’re friendly and make friends easily because they don’t have a “built-in” set of young companions at home. They’re also great communicators because they learn language and vocabulary from their parents, not siblings.
Only children get the best of both worlds: My daughter has been in day care (now preschool) since she was 10 weeks old. So all day long she has kids, noise, playing, screaming, laughing, fighting, and all around chaos surrounding her. Then, she gets to come home and enjoy quiet and relaxing time doing her favorite things with her mom and dad in a peaceful environment.
Life really is easier with one child: Now that our daughter is a little kid and not a baby, we don’t have to worry about sleepless nights. No more dirty diapers. No more sicknesses where she can’t tell me what hurts. No more meltdowns while dining out. No more naps. No more breastfeeding. Life with a little kid is so much easier than life with a baby, and I don’t think I could start all over again. Not to mention I’ll never have to be a referee between fighting siblings.
Mom and Dad are her playmates: I love playing with our daughter — dolls, Legos, building forts, playing hide-and-seek… she actually wants to play with her parents, and I love that.
But there’s also a downside to having only one.
Only children never have the experience of a sibling: I’m one of five children, and my siblings are my best friends. Not giving this to my daughter does make me wonder if she’s missing out. But I guess she can’t miss what she never had, right?
What if a tragedy occurs? Not to be morbid, but if something were to happen to my husband or me, my daughter would be left without an immediate family. Heartbreaking.
She won’t have a shared history: My fondest memories from childhood are with my brothers and sisters. Singletons don’t have the opportunity to reminisce about childhood with a sibling who grew up in the same household.
I do believe I have the best of both worlds with just one. I get to experience motherhood, and give my daughter the best life possible while still maintaining a sense of self.
Photo courtesy of Christina Haller