Rex, as I’ve written before, is fairly likely to be an only child, barring laughable flukes of birth control pill failure and steroided sperm. I find this greatly relieving because I do not want under any circumstance to voluntarily go through postpartum depression again. I also really don’t want to go through the newborn to about 9 month old phase either. Been there, done that, got the spit up on my t-shirt. And, I am just now getting my career back on track, although I’m not back to the level of compensation that I was at before. Having another child will really throw a wrench into the now nicely balanced ride.
But, is it fair? I mean is it fair to Rex to withhold a sibling from him, someone who might be his best friend or playmate? Is it fair to make him make that extra effort to find and make friends because he doesn’t have the built in playmate at home? Is it fair to put my needs ahead of his in this area?
I’m honestly torn. The Insidious Mommy Guilt Monster is dragging me down into her den to have her way with me and making me write on the chalkboard 1 million times “I will always put my child’s needs ahead of my own.” On the other hand, the Shining Lady of Mommy Must Be Happy is saying, “no problem, the kid will be fine, go get a mani-pedi and join a book club!”
I take a little comfort in the fact that I too was an only child and except for my fundamental inability to share (“MINE!”), I turned out ok. I can function in society, make friends, blah, blah, blah. The thing is that my main memories of childhood are that it was lonely. Depressingly lonely. I so wanted additional family around (but not siblings, Dear Lord No Siblings!) who I didn’t have to worry about constantly trying to remain friends with or who I could just hang out with and be myself. This isn’t to say that I didn’t have friends growing up because I did. But the supreme effort that was involved in finding, cultivating and maintaining friendships was just exhausting. Was it like that for all kids or was I just weird?
I’m terrified that Rex will be lonely like I was growing up. I know, deep down, that he is not me and I am not him and that he has a lot more family near him than I ever did growing up. One set of grandparents is a mile away 6 months out of the year, and the other set is a mere 2.5 hours away. His cousin, who is 2.5 months younger than he is, is 3 hours away. He has so many honorary aunties and uncles in town that it’s an embarrassment of riches. And, most importantly, he interacts with other kids pretty much five days a week.
But, and there’s always a but, what if he is missing out on this magical amazing sibling experience because of me? I’ve heard from many other people that having siblings isn’t a guarantee to having a built-in friend nor do they necessarily make life easier or smoother. The problem is that I have no experience in this arena so I can’t be a good judge.
I can judge that it would be a terrible mistake for us to have another child right now and probably ever. I know that when Rex is older and asks why he doesn’t have a brother or sister, I will have no guilt telling him that it was because we got it so right the first time we couldn’t possibly have done better than him. I know that I will do my absolute best to make sure that he has lots of opportunities to be with friends and family so that he doesn’t have the loneliness that I did growing up. For now, that’s going to have to be my best.