The Loveliness of "Only" — by Cara
I recently saw a posting on a mothering website. A question was posed to those who had “only” children. The author of the post wanted to know whether the children were well adjusted and whether the Moms felt “complete” with only one child. The woman who posed this query recently found out that she would be unable to have any more children and was worried that her daughter would grow up feeling “deprived” of the experience of having siblings and whether only child families felt “complete.”
The reason I homed in on this post is because not only do I have an “only” child, I am one. I also pondered and am self-predicting that there are many “older” Moms out there who also have “onlies” and feel perfectly “complete” with this choice. In fact, all of the weekly bloggers for Motherhood Later …Than Sooner have “only” children!
So why is it that society puts a label and needs an explanation for only children families? In fact, I cannot tell you how many times my own Mother-in-Law has made comments about my son, ending with the phrase, “Well, after all, he’s an only child, so he’s spoiled.” The word “spoiled” refers to food, not children. And it certainly is not a type of behavior, as my Mother-in-Law repeatedly implies. What is so wrong about being an “only?” And conversely, what are the attributes of having an only child?
I would like to start with my own wonderful scenario, which occurred last week. My son lost his first tooth! When I found out, I quickly went to a website that had male as well as female Tooth Fairy selections. I downloaded and printed out the page of Tooth Fairies and showed them to my son so that he could chose which Tooth Fairy he wanted to come and take his tooth. Then we e-mailed this Tooth Fairy (ie. Daddy) because my son had quite a few questions to ask his Tooth Fairy. I also downloaded a certificate that I printed on our color printer, on cardstock, which was waiting for him when he woke up. Throughout all of this, I kept thinking, how wonderful for both of us to totally immerse ourselves in this milestone event and make it as magical and as wonderful as it should be! If I had more than one child, I never would have been able to embrace this event in the same way! And it has nothing to do about money, just time. Incidentally, my best friend’s little girl lost her first tooth the same day as my son. She posted something on Facebook that said, “The baby is screaming and I’m out of singles so the Tooth Fairy is bringing glitter glue tonight.” When I read that, I thought to myself, how fortunate….how fortunate for us that my son is an only child.
I could list a hundred other examples of how fortunate only children are. And a hundred famous people who were only children, throughout history. I think what it boils down to, though, is the type of parenting a child gets, whether in a ten child household or a household with one, what types of individual temperaments each of the children has and how theirs “fit” within the household “mix.” And also for a child to feel loved, whether number ten or an only.
I anticipate that along with the growing numbers of “older” parents that arise, as time progresses, the number of only child families will grow in number as well. I welcome seeing this societal change as the years pass. Then maybe the labels such as “spoiled” will not only be a misnomer, they will be a thing of the past.
I came upon this fable written by Lokman, an ancient Ethiopian sage:
A hare, upon meeting a lioness one day, said reproachfully: “I have always a great number of children while you have only one now and then.”
The lioness replied, “That is true, but my one child is a lion.”
And, in fact, so is mine.