Stopping At One

I am an only child. When I reveal this, people always say, “But you don’t ACT like an only child!” I’m still not quite sure what that means.

I never thought it was so horrible to be an only child. I liked it that my parents brought me to lots of “adult” places and that I got to talk about grown-up things. I would go to friends’ houses and play with their siblings, and when I was ready, I could go home. As the only grandkid on both sides and with no cousins, I never knew holidays with houses full of children of all ages to play with. Since I didn’t know any different, I didn’t secretly pine away for a different existence.

My husband and I talked about having two kids, but it didn’t work out that way. The newborn stage is hard on most people, but I really struggled. I didn’t think I could do it again, particularly having another child to care for. It works for many people, just not me. My husband and I talked about it, and decided to stop at one.

After a while, my mama friends started talking about having more children, and we adopted a black Lab. We told our son this was his dog brother, and he was completely on board. To this day, he has not asked about a brother or sister, and when we have asked him, he says he likes our family the way it is (well, perhaps he would prefer more pets, but that’s another post). Our families stopped asking, and we put all the baby things on Craigslist or passed them on to the new baby brothers and sisters of my son’s friends.

I wondered if seeing babies would make me want to have another. Turns out, it didn’t. I enjoyed the freedom of knowing I didn’t have to go through the hardships of those early months again, and was happy to be able to make meals or help out my friends who were battling through days with only a few hours of sleep and, in some cases, questioning their decisions.
AdvertisementI was surprised at how few other only children we came across. At first, it seemed like a secret club — people seem to just expect you’ll have more than one child, or if you don’t, that maybe there is a physical reason you can’t, so they don’t want to pry. I kept wondering if there was some handshake I was not privy to in order to gain entrance into this society. But slowly, I realized I wasn’t the only one.

I felt like I was coming out of the closet. There was nothing to be ashamed of, of course. I could tell some of my friends didn’t understand…”but you are so good with kids!?” I think to my son’s last tantrum and how I immediately felt that this was all I could handle.

As I am wont to do, I decided that I needed to read up on parenting an only child. I found the dad of my best friend in high school, Carl Pickhardt, wrote a book called The Future of Your Only Child: How to Guide Your Child to a Happy and Successful Life. The book certainly served as a mirror to illuminate some of my traits and foibles and gave me food for thought on how as a parent you can moderate some of the less positive characteristics of only children.

Now that my son is getting older, I daydream about the future, thinking about all of the amazing experiences we’ll have together as a family. Thinking about my future and all the possibilities that await as my son enters elementary school. Sure, there will be tough stretches. There will be cloudy days. But, I’m content knowing my family is complete and we’ll face it all together.

Written by: Nicole Basham

About Nicole Basham 793 Articles
A native Austinite and soccer-playing mom, Nicole uses her 10-year-old son as an excuse to rediscover her hometown through his eyes. In Thoreau's words, her mission is to "suck out all the marrow of life", or in her son's words, to cultivate in him a love of "advenchers".

6 Comments on Stopping At One

  1. As an only child myself, the following is a list of other only children I enjoy keeping company with:

    Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

    Ansel Adams

    Steve Allen

    William A. Anders

    Hans Christian Anderson

    Christina Applegate

    Lance Armstrong

    Lauren Bacall

    Burt Bacharach

    Jeff Bagwell

    John the Baptist

    Candice Bergen

    Frank Borman

    Bill Bradley

    Carol Burnett

    Mark Burnett

    Laura Bush

    Ada Byron

    Roy Cohn

    Chelsea Clinton

    David Copperfield

    Walter Cronkite

    Leonardo da Vinci

    Sammy Davis Jr.

    Robert De Niro

    Nick Faldo

    Gerald Ford

    E.M. Forster

    Indira Gandhi
    Mahatma Gandhi

    Sarah Michelle Gellar

    Rudolph Giuliani

    Tipper Gore

    Cary Grant

    Alan Greenspan

    Teri Hatcher

    William Randolph Hearst

    Lillian Hellman

    Anthony Hopkins

    Gayle Hunnicut

    Samuel L. Jackson

    Shirley Jones

    Tommy Lee Jones

    James A. Lovell

    China Kantner

    Alicia Keys

    Ted Koppel

    Lenny Kravitz

    Charles Lindbergh

    John Lennon

    Phil Lynott

    Jesse Metcalfe

    Joe Montana

    Iris Murdoch

    Isaac Newton

    Al Pacino

    Gregory Peck

    Matthew Perry

    Cole Porter

    Natalie Portman

    Ezra Pound

    Enoch Powell

    Elvis Presley

    Lisa Marie Presley

    Daniel Radcliffe

    Nancy Reagan

    Condoleezza Rice

    LeAnn Rimes

    Eleanor Roosevelt

    Franklin D. Roosevelt

    Richie Sambora

    Jean Paul Sartre

    Brooke Shields

    Frank Sinatra

    Kirsten Smith

    Danielle Steel

    Barbra Striesand

    Charlize Theron

    John Updike

    Betty White

    Robin Williams

    Tiger Woods

  2. Thank you for the post! and Rockzee – thanks for your comment!

    My husband and I have an 18 month-old whom we are having a blast with ever since he passed the nine month-old mark and have no real desire to have another – except for the fact that I really enjoyed having a sister growing up and enjoy having her in my life now. But, mainly my reason for wanting having another in spite of the fact that I REALLY DO NOT WANT TO BE PREGNANT OR HAVE ANOTHER BABY IN THE HOUSE is that I think I’m supposed to.

    Thank you for the food for thought!

  3. what a great article, nicole! i have been around when there’ve been those questions as to why (and i think i might have been one of the people to ask :-), and you always handle the question/answer so calmly and matter-of-factly. as someone who went back and forth trying to decide if having an only was the right decision for us or if trying to have another child was, i can understand a lot of the reasons to stop at one. ultimately, we chose to add to our family, and i can’t imagine my life without both of my children. it works wonderfully for us (well, most of the time…when they are both screaming/crying, pooping, or throwing fits…notsomuch).

  4. Thank you for this, Nicole. I always thought I’d have two, but it hasn’t worked out that way, and now my husband and I have decided to close that door. I’m now focusing on the completeness of our family just the way it is. It’s good to hear the point of view of someone who is not only the mother of an only child, but an only child herself (don’t you wish there was another term for that?).

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