Sunday, September 19, 2010

Natural Bridges - Feb_115

I am an only child – something that wasn’t unusual in my time and place. In fact, I am surprised that anyone in my native city of Minsk had more than one child living in tiny apartments that were often shared with grandparents. When I was a child, I sometimes would tell my mom, Mama, let’s play a game and pretend that you have 6 children and they are all the same age as me. To which my mother would respond, You know, I am a human, not a cat. Still, I wrote a lot of stories where I would have siblings and we would all have adventures together. That said, I don’t remember myself ever being lonely. I had friends and I was kept very busy with homework and extracurricular activities. I always enjoyed and treasured time to myself, inventing my own games, writing my own stories and living in my own world. I remember writing my vision of the year 2000 when I was about 14. Everything was clear in my mind – I will be awfully old, almost as old as my mom. She was 34 then, I would be 32 in 2000. I will have my own apartment in the city I was born, I will be an engineer like my parents, I will be married and will have two children, maybe three.

Fast forward to 2000. I was once-divorced, living with my boyfriend in France, and we were not exactly ready to have children together. The only thing that materialized from my teenage vision is graduating from the same college that my parents went to. At that point of time I wasn’t even sure that I want to have children at all – life has been busy with its ups and downs, and I didn’t feel settled enough to consider children.

When I met my husband, we discussed children early in our relationship. We both agreed that we want children, and we both agreed that one will be enough. Why did we go for “one by choice”? It might be difficult for many people here to understand, but mostly because we were content with where we were in our lives. We both had successful careers, friends, interests. We wanted to share our lives with a child, but having two or more “back-to-back” seemed like something that we wouldn’t be able to take on. We have seen enough households with young children – chaos, toys everywhere, never ending work and juggling responsibilities. I know that many women take it on gladly and make it work, and sometimes I think that maybe I could do it too if I stayed at home full time, but… I am still happy with the way things are. We have poured our energy, our time and our love into this new human being that we brought into this world almost four years ago. We love watching her grow and change in front of our eyes. Do I have concerns about how she will be affected by her “an only child” status? Stay tuned for the next post in this series.

14 comments:

Debbie said...

The choice of having one child is a personal choice and one I feel is very important for a husband and wife to agree on. Will Anna be affected by the only child status, I doubt that at all. She is a very rounded and grounded little girl. I look forward to more of what you have to say.

My Family My Forever said...

I agree with Debbie, each family is different, each parent is different--our make-up, what makes us "tick", feel complete, feel successful--all of that is unique to the individual, the family.

Ultimately, all that matters is what you and Lars have decided works for your family unit, your marriage, and vice versa for our home.

In my opinion, what matters most is being happy, feeling loved and secure no matter what the family dynamics are--only child, child number 8, or a child in a single parent home.

My Family My Forever said...

Forgot to add, Anna is obviously very loved and very secure.

I do not think any child is "affected by being an only child", I think if it's all they have known then that is what they are used to.

As I said above, each family is unique:-).

Pathfinder Mom said...

Natalie - I'm always amazed by how much we have in common. I was in nearly exactly the same place in 2000. Divorced, with a boyfriend that I didn't marry and pretty much convinced and okay with the fact that I wasn't going to have children. Fast forward 10 years - now re-married, with a planned only child. My major difference is that I ended up not returning to work (that wasn't the plan at all).

I look forward to your next post!

An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

I totally understand the "we were content with our lives" idea. We waited six years before having our first, for pretty much the same reason. And, we really seriously considered stopping with one - I liked the idea of being able to pour all our resources into him. Of course then, we took a different road. But, I look forward to the rest of your series :)

Ticia said...

We always planned on more than one, we didn't plan on starting that more than one so fast..... I think the only child syndrome is rather dependent on how the parents act

April said...

My husband and I were together for 6 years before my daughter came along but we knew that we wanted another one shortly after. They are only 22 months apart. It was definitely what we wanted for our family. I am an only child but I grew up around a large extended family and even lived with cousins for a large part of my childhood so I didn't feel like much like I was an only child.

Anna will "be affected" by being an only child just as children with siblings "are affected" by being a brother or sister. We are all shaped by our childhood experiences. There are positive/negative aspects to both being an only child and to being a sibling. But as "hands on" as you and your husband seem to be, I doubt lonliness will be one of the "negative" aspects that your daughter will encounter. In fact, sometimes children with lots of brothers and sisters feel lonely (think Jan Brady syndrome).

MaryAnne said...

I love that photo of you and Anna! The happiest children in my experience are those who come from caring homes, and that is something Anna clearly has!

And you are right about chaos and young children =)

Infant Bibliophile said...

I can definitely understand wanting to have only 1. It is overwhelming to me to think that all we have poured into our first child we will be expected to do again with our second (or that she will get cheated by not getting as much from us). Do I have that much energy/time/will in me? (A little late for me to be wondering that now!). I'll look forward to your next post.

Aging Mommy said...

Everyone is different and also people change. I never wanted children and even in my late 30's had you asked I would have said I was never going to be a mother. Then still not sure we decided to try for a baby and along the way things changed so much that for me now, knowing I cannot ever have a second baby is still hard to completely accept. Instead I just am so thankful that we were so very lucky and now have our wonderful daughter.

Can't wait to hear more in your new mini-series.

Joyful Learner said...

I'm looking forward to your posts because there's so many "should's" or "shouldn'ts" that people say about raising an only. I have no idea how true they were since I was not an only. We take it one day at a time and mostly follow our hearts in what's right for our family. I used to want a large family because it was lonely with just my sister and I when our parents worked so much. But then no suitable partner came around until I met my husband in my 30's. I always dreamed of adopting but wanted to give having my own a try. Glad I did because we are so blessed by her. We filled so fulfilled right now, we can't imagine changing anything. But I do worry as she gets older if she will be happy. So far, she has not asked for a sibling or I take it that she's pretty content in being an only.

Joyful Learner said...

Sorry for the typos again! This keypad changes the words after I type them.

Christy said...

I love your vision of the future from when you were a teen! Funny.

I had an only child for seven years and I never thought it affected him. He was loved and all attention was on him. He was also the only grandchild at the time so he was spoiled all around. I always knew I wanted more than one child, but I also always worried about having time for each of my children. Tyler is in such a different "place" than Collin and Reagan and that makes giving them the attention they need difficult at times. People are always telling me it must be easier to have one child 7 years older than to have three young children at the same time, but I disagree. I think it's easier to parent three children who are similar in age and experiences, wants and needs, etc.

Anyway, Anna seems like a very happy child who receives a lot of love and attention and in my opinion she is going to grow up to be very confident, intelligent, and happy. You are great parents. I look forward to reading more.

Kim said...

We chose to have one child as well, but people gave us a lot of trouble about it for a while. Now, they've given up! Crumpet is very happy to be an only child so far, and actually can't stand babies so it's definitely easier for me to have stopped at one. Sometimes, my husband feels sad for Crumpet not to have siblings because he is very close to his brother and sister. I have a brother that I was never friends with and never hear from now, so I don't believe that siblings are all that necessary, and there's no guarantee that they'd be friends anyway. I like the tightness of our little family of 3, and the fact that I can be there for Crumpet whenever he needs me. I do think he's spoiled as a result, but I think that will pass. And shouldn't a child expect to have his mother when he needs her? All of that said, I do still get a little twinge when I see a newborn! ;)