Only the Lonely?

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?

By me'nthedogs via Creative Commons

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.

7 thoughts on “Only the Lonely?

  1. i don’t think there’s a right answer to this one. sugar and i are both onlies, and we are planning (sort of) to have more than one, because on balance we don’t like it very much. on the other hand, we are both capable of Living In The World, making friends and all that; i firmly reject the idea that only children are somehow warped by the experience. the Gay Thing plays into our thinking a bit, too — if the world is going to be harder to navigate because of our unusual family type, i like the idea of giving the bean an ally.

    ‘course, this may all go out the window when we see what life with a baby is actually like. no promises.

  2. I had a verbose reply for you, but what it cmoes down to is this – the things you went through to get Rex, and the things you’ve dealt with in the last 10 months since his arrival HAVE to play a large part in this decision.

    It is not something decide lightly.

    I knew within minutes of Captain’s arrival that I wanted more than one. Fast forward slightly less than 4 years from the June afternoon, and we welcomed Littlest One – our third. People think we’re totally bonkers. Maybe we are, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

    Until you have that feeling of completeness, that there’s not someone missing from your dinner table, don’t rule it out.

    Most of all – Do NOT cave into pressure from ANYONE! If a fluke should occur, you’ll love the addition. If it doesn’t, you’ve got an amazing little man that you’re raising, and your family will rock regardless.

  3. Of course you know this is a loaded question for me. I wish I had one moment where I had thoughts that life would be fine with one. The reality is that never once in the last six years did I ever think I could be okay with one. I WANTED to… oh how I wanted to. My checkbook wanted to as well. Maybe it’s because it was secondary infertility. There is no right answer of course, you know that. It’s really up for us to think about, reflect, and think some more.

    I have a younger brother, but it was by no means an idyllic relationship as kids or even now. So I have no experience in “siblings” are awesome category either.

    D. is very close to my two nephews though, and I am happy for that. But when he was five years old, he told his classmates (at a party) that they were his brothers. I couldn’t correct him. It made me equally happy and sad. More happy though.

  4. I am an only and also find making and keeping friends hard. Of course, that’s because being an only turned me into a self-absorbed introvert…

    It’s interesting how people make the decision to (or come to peace with) having only one child. We are in “negotiation” here…I feel like we should have two, DH isn’t ready. Hopefully we won’t leave the decision until it’s too late.

    Off Topic: I’m really enjoying reading the Grace in Small Things posts.

  5. So here’s the thing…sibling does not equal built in bff/playmate/ally. My sister and I are exactally 2 yrs & 5 days apart in age, and we have never (as in from the age of 2 that I can remember lol!) been close. I was the pink/froufrou/gymnastics/barbie ballerina and she was the work boot wearin/ninja turtle/soccer/basketball/tomboy. We are now and always have been on polar opposites of the spectrum ( and certianly neither of us was wrong/bad/or less than the other, just so completely different). Even now as adults we live completely seperate and different lives. We see each other once or twice a year, I send her birthday cards, thats it…I love my sister, but my best friend from the age of 14 is my real soul sister & forever friend. What ever you and the Mr. choose I think you should do so based on what is the very best for you all, what you all truly want…not what you think Rex maybe might want someday b/c sibling or not he may still have to try hard to make & keep friends, share etc…the whole sibling thing is not a sure bet. ( please forgive me if this all came across terribly sad! Not my intention at all b/c she is happy with her life & I feel blessed with mine, they just don’t really include each other-if that makes any sense?)

  6. I am also an only child. And yes it was lonely sometimes too. But I turned out alright.
    There is no right or wrong answer to this question. And other people’s opinion does not matter, as long as they are not paying for or are part of your family. If Rex remains an only child, he’ll be just fine, he’ll learn how to use his imagination to the wildest capacity to keep himself entertained and such. If he does get a sibling, he will have to learn how to share.(I still have moments when sharing is not easy.) You are in a win-win situation. Tell the Guilt Lady to go amuse herself some place else.

  7. Its odd because I’m going through the exact opposite in terms of mummy guilt at the moment. I’m 3 months pregnant with my second and I’m terrified the new arrival is going to ruin my 2 year old’s life. He has never had to share my attention or love and of course that’s going to change radically in 6 months time. So I guess the guilt gets you whichever path you choose!

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