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.