Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Lonely only? (Pour Your Heart Out link-up)
I am linking up to pour my heart out with the blog titled "Things I Can't Say," so I am going to take this opportunity to let out things I can't seem to say in real-life conversations...
I am an only child. I hate it. I always hated it. I started begging for a brother or a sister as soon as I could talk. I remember being devastated when my cousins or friends got siblings and I was left alone. I always wanted someone to play with and I felt very lonely a lot of the time. I wished for another young person to play with on family vacations (though when I was older I was lucky enough to be able to take a friend). I wanted to share a room--I wanted to share my toys...I just wanted SOMEONE who would always be there to share things with. I wanted a sibling who would also get in trouble and not just me. I was never a "bad" kid--I did great in school and never got into REAL trouble, I just talked back some and didn't clean my room very often. I wanted someone who understood what life inside my house was like. I never got it. As my parents got older, I even begged them to adopt. Didn't happen either. By high school, I just had to accept it was just me...and I tried not to think about it anymore. I hate it even more now that I am grown, my parents are getting older and have some health problems--my dad recently had bypass surgery after a heart attack and my mom is preparing for a double knee replacement (thankfully, they are both doing amazingly well). It sure would be nice to have someone who feels what I am feeling through all of this...
I always said I would not have only one child--I could not do that to another human being. But, to make a very long story very short, my husband's career and my desire to have a career of my own have changed my mind (along with a few other female-details, including complications after the last birth and endometriosis). To me, our family feels complete. My husband never really wanted more than one kid, so when we had our amazing little girl, he KNEW we were complete from the start. He says with one kid, we know we can give her everything she needs, most of what she wants (while teaching her to be grateful and giving, too, of course) and send her to college/help her out when she is on her own...but with two kids he would have to decide which one he liked the most and which one would have to join the Marine Corps. Hahaha! I don't exactly agree with that, but I see where he's coming from. :)
The bottom line is, I feel like our family is complete. I do not have a strong desire for it to grow in numbers--I'm not sure of the reasons behind that because I still feel very lonely in my only child life sometimes. My daughter does not seem to feel the way I did at her age. She always tells me she does not want brothers or sisters--that she wants to be the only baby that's been in my belly. I'm not saying parents should base their child-creating decisions on what their current children want--I'm just saying she helps give me peace of mind that she is not feeling like I did as an only child. She is much more independent than I was at her age; she's more independent than I was even when I was much older than she is right now. She is very social and loves her friends, but she can entertain herself and enjoys alone time. I think these are good traits!
So, WHY DOES EVERYONE HAVE TO GIVE ME THEIR TWO CENTS ABOUT THIS TOPIC?!?!?!? It seems that almost everyone has an opinion on only children--particularly my family's decision to have only one child--and is willing to share it. To me, that's just plain rude. I have heard it all--she will be antisocial (she's not); she will be selfish (she's not); she will never learn to be independent (she's the most independent 5-year-old I know); she'll never learn how to get along with others (not true); she will always feel lonely (I don't see that happening); she will never learn to appreciate things (totally not true); she will be a spoiled brat (seriously, who says that to a mother?); you will give her everything (we don't); she NEEDS siblings (why?) etc., etc., etc., and yada, yada, yada.
I do feel confident in my decision, yet I still get so defensive when people start this mumbo jumbo. I feel like they are attacking me and my daughter (and my husband but that doesn't bother me as much because he 1. doesn't care what other people think and 2. has no problem standing up for himself/telling other people what HE thinks). I am worried that I am making a mistake...but don't mom's worry about this in every aspect of their parenting? It's a scary job--because it's an important job being a mother!
So, here and now, I am saying something I can't seem to actually say but that I NEED to say to all of those people who criticize--SHUT UP! You are all up in the Kool-Aid but you do not know the flavor! (For the record, I LOVE when I can use that line. Ha!) Mind your own business. I'm not out there criticizing your parenting decisions or your family composition. My daughter has all the basics she needs in her life--she is very well taken care of here. Yes, she has many luxuries, but she also has the biggest, giving heart I can imagine. She is kind and sweet. She is a good friend. She is happy. She is smart. And she is MINE. MY mothering is helping her achieve her potential. And the fact that she is an only child has no bearing on that. Stop calling me selfish. How is any of what I am doing selfish? Is it because you think that I MUST be selfish because I am an only child? Is it because I am pursuing a career that I believe is good for me AND my family and you think that doesn't make for a good mom? Stop with the sterotypes and let our actions speak for themselves. This decision is my husband's and mine...not yours. If you want to have lots of children, then you do that for yourself. I have no problems with large families--I have no problems with medium-sized families--I have no problem with people who choose not to have children. The point is, it is a personal, family decision. Please, please keep your thoughts to yourself. Better yet, why don't you hold off on creating those thoughts and opinions unless you can get a better grasp of what is actually going on here and have some basis in reality on which to form said thoughts and opinions. Oh, and while you're at it, check out this article from Time Magazine last year before you start making antiquated assertions about only children.
Whew! It feels good to get that out!
Oh, and as for that article in Time, Buzz saw that and bought it for me last year. I know it's not an academic journal--I feel like I need to make that disclaimer, you know, being in PhD school and all. :)