Google ‘moms of only children’ and you’ll get 216 million (literally) results. And, in many of those results (126 000, give or take), you’ll encounter phrases like ‘mommy-shaming’, ‘only child mom guilt’, and ‘sancti-mommies’.
It’s all very us-and-them.
Much like the stay-at-home-moms vs the worker-bee-moms. The breast-feeders vs the bottle-feeders. The co-sleepers vs the cry-it-outers. And, G-d help us all, the vaccinators vs those utter lunatics who choose not to vaccinate. But that’s another article for another time. Maybe.
For now, let’s address the fact that there are loads of mommies (and daddies) out there who have chosen to have an only child. For loads of reasons. And many are fed up with the questions and the comments.
But I’m not.
So I’m gonna come right out and say it: I enjoy being challenged on our family’s one-child choice.
I’m a contrary somebody. I’m known for saying, out loud, the things that other people think and then keep to themselves. So it amuses me to shock a bunch of collected parents with, “Just the one. Yes, really. I’m a one-hit wonder. Factory’s closed. No, we had no fertility problems. Yes, I’m sure. Having done it once, why would anyone do it more than once?”
Smug tree-hugging is fun. I enjoy reminding people of the gross overpopulation plaguing our world. Of our grotesque ecological footprint. Of the myriad ways in which we abuse our environment and consume more resources than we should. Hence: an only child is enough. In real life, my tree-hugginess only extends to recycling, veggie gardening and camping. That’s about it. But this is still a fun conversation. I told you, I’m a contrary somebody.
There’s some boasting. Inevitably, at some point in the “Why only one child?” conversation, I’ll get to remind people what an obscenely expensive private school my daughter goes to. Why work yourself to the bone to earn enough to send your kid to one of Joburg’s priciest schools, if you can’t cite the eye-watering fees as justification for an only child?
There’s more boasting. My husband and I get a lot of time off. Like, a lot. We see adult movies (not adult ‘adult’ movies; just grown-up movies). We eat out regularly, and not at the Spur. And I have a weekly hair appointment. To which I can easily take my only child if she feels like tagging along. She’s good at keeping herself entertained. And we’re used to, and exceptionally skilled at, sharing our daughter with her favourite adults. Okay, out-sourcing her*.
But seriously, here’s the main reason: Our family is complete with one child. In our vision of ourselves, we don’t see more children.
Yes, our daughter may have loved a sibling. But she doesn’t have one. So she’s going to love not having one, and having all of her parents – love, time, attention, resources – instead. That’s the way it is. And that’s the part I like explaining most.
* Disclaimer: Irony aside, I’m proud of our only child, her grit, and her self-sufficiency. And I’m even prouder of the ‘village’ we have worked hard to cultivate. So she gets out-sourced. And she loves it.