Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Parenting an Only Child

My son has begun asking me the question I absolutely positively hate the most: when are we going to have another baby? (Dude. I can't believe I'm getting that question from you now ) The fact that we're not going to have another child is a huge regret in my life. One that I hope will go away soon.

Sassy and I grew up in a very large family. I have seven brothers and sisters, seven sisters and brothers in-law and 16 nieces and nephews. I can't imagine not having each and every single one of them in my life. It makes me sad that Logan will never experience family dinners, vacations, or holidays the way I did. It makes me feel bad that he won't have a buddy growing up and a best friend as an adult who is
also his brother or sister. I really hate that.

Here's the thing. I was told by my doctors for years that getting pregnant would be difficult for me. I was beyond shocked when I found out I was indeed pregnant with Logan. When I had him, I was 34 and went through some serious postpartum depression. It took me a long time to work through all of that garbage.

So, now I'm 40. I am emotionally at a place where we could have another baby. We are financially comfortable where adding to our family wouldn't be a struggle. But we just don't think we want to. There are a lot of risks involved for both mother and baby when you reach a certain age. And let's face it. It's a lot of work taking care of a newborn. They kinda cramp your style, if you know what I mean. A baby would mess up my sleep schedule, my romantic life and my social life.

We've got it made right now. It's not a lot of work to go ice skating, to the library or the beach. We no longer have to pack a u-haul to travel downstate. Taking the boat out includes only sunscreen, food and drinks and peeing off the back (Logan, not me.)

While I am torn wishing I could give Logan a brother or sister, I am also a little selfish, I guess. Tom and I don't want to go back to the sleepless nights and tired days. We don't want to change diapers. (Although, walking out of the video store yesterday, Logan did announce "Mom, my butt really itches. I think I have some dried poop in it". In a loud voice. I was very proud.) More importantly, I don't want to risk hurting my marriage because of the postpartum hell I put my husband through the first time.

But am I doing a disservice to my kid? Late Saturday afternoon Logan was
plain over me. We had gone ice skating and had a lot of fun. Or so I thought, until he let me know that he would really rather do anything but play Yahtzee Jr. with me. I'm his mom. He's five. He wants a friend to be all rough-and-tumble with and I was beginning to bore him.

So, I called up Sassy and asked if we could pick up Kiki and take him to the play area at the mall with us. When we got there, one of Logan's classmates ran up to the boys and they all took off and played. I loved watching them interact and see the mischievous looks and listening to their laughter.

And that's when it occurred to me. (Because I'm a little slow on the uptake.) I need to be more proactive and actually arrange these kinds of activities. Being a working mom, I have never scheduled a play date. Ever. Frankly, I'm not even sure how they work (Do I pick the kid up? Does the mom hang out with us? Do I take them somewhere or do we just stay home? If Logan goes to their house, does that mean I'm free to go have myself lunch and a Mojito with a girlfriend?) I do know that I cannot be all things to my son. Nor can I fully appreciate the humor of the gross boy-noises he enjoys. I need to find him someone who does. Pronto.

So I wrestle with my occasional annoyance at having to play yet another game of Sorry when I really want to read my book or watch What Not to Wear. I fight my sadness at not being able to give Logan a bigger family. I talk myself out of my guilt that "this" is all he gets.

But I am also happy every day. I love my kid. I dig my husband. We have fun together just the three of us. I acknowledge that he does need more, and I am committed to making that happen. I just don't plan on giving birth in order to do so.

I have completely forgotten about Lent Family Devotional with Sister Honey Bunch. Sorry, ya'll! I have been asked to include discussion tips for around the dinner table. Ummmm...I am so not an expert at this. We kind of wing it, frankly. I will try to add things we will probably chat about at our house but we will probably segue into talking about why Logan thinks Brett Favre should play for the Lions. Hope it helps.

"But put God's kingdom first. Do what he wants you to do. Then all of those things will also be given to you."

  • Our job is to be kind to others. Not to focus on ourself.
  • If there is a classmate who seems sad or off playing alone, go talk to him. Invite him to play with you and your friends.
  • Remember a time when someone was nice to you when you were feeling sad? Try to do that for another kid and help cheer him up.
  • Focus on being nice to other people, and don't always talk about getting a new football jersey or new Power Ranger or going to McDonald's.
  • If I see you doing those nice things, I will be more likely to do nice things for you. Like get the Power Ranger, football jersey, etc.
  • God will do the the same kind of thing. Only bigger.

at's that? You want to comment? Just click on the itty-bitty words below that say "Gimme Some Sugar". Can you see them? Good. We can't wait to chat with you.


pooja said...

nice article:)
thanks for sharing:)

Wade Huntsinger said...

Well that was a pretty good devotion. The good thing about have a small amount of kids is when the friends and cousins go home, it is back to being quite for a while. TC had 11 siblings and I had 1. So, not sure what it is best, I think I tend to think smaller, then again i choose to be here with 8 boys. Go figure.

erin said...

honestly, in parts this makes you sound a little selfish...lol but the truth is if having another child is putting your health in danger then its no good to anyone.
you could adopt! just a thought...
also the truth is, you have to go out of your way to let your son develop around people his own age, even if it is inconvenient. kids arent meant to be practical!

Sister Big said...

Tell Logan I'm all over Brett!

Emilie said...

Well, I DID arrange a play date with you once, and you ditched me. :)
I don't think you sound selfish at all. As you know, I would have LOVED to have another child..both for me and for Ella to have a sibling. She still asks about it even though she knows that it just isn't possible. I don't have the plumbing for that anymore.
She and Logan will both form lasting friendships that will be like family to them as they grow older..
No worries, pudding cup! :)

pete said...

You said "dude" and "dig" in one post. You just got another reader! ;D

I know what your saying about the play dates. We slack on those too much and then the kids pile on the guilt like, "can we do something?" or "can I go to my friend's house today?" It's not just you and your kid will be fine. Even going out to the park on a whim works - kids are amazing socialites and he will probably have a running crew within five minutes of being there.

BTW, thank for stopping by my site!

saintseester said...

Doing something against your better judgement won't make you happy, and by extension, won't make Logan happy either. Besides, you can never win, anyway!

I had fertility problems, too (we are so alike it is creepy). I had given up, then we got pregnant. I never thought it would happen again. We ended up with a boy and a girl. The boy wants me to have some brothers for him, the girl wants me to have some sisters for her.

Um. No. No for all of the reasons you listed. That PPD was a nightmare I cannot put my family through again. As they get older, the playdates get easier, because then they start inviting people over without telling you...

Aimee Greeblemonkey said...

This is so weird, because we had this conversation with Declan last night - for the first time ever- and it's my topic of my post for tomorrow.

We are happily a family of 3 and not going to have any more, and he understood our reasons, but we were a little shocked to have the question come from HIM for once rather than everyone ELSE.

Michelle Smiles said...

If you really feel the need for another child, there is always adoption (I say like it is an easy process - but maybe easier than PPD - I have a friend who had awful PPD and she adopted at the same time I did to avoid it again). And if not, I grew up an only child and turned out mostly okay! Yes, there are things you miss out on but there are also good things about being an only child. You tend to be more mature, have better interactions with adults, get all the good presents at Christmas, never have to share the remote, and all of the attention.

Ashlee said...

Ah, yes...THE qusetion. Landon has asked me that several times. We're not having any more either. For oodles of reasons, some are just the same as yours. My girl parts are broken too, so that doesn't help. My family drives me INSANE about it and tells me on a regular basis that I'm SUPPOSED to have more kids. Oh really? Why don't you have them for me then?

Anyway...Where my kids are 6 years apart play dates have helped so much for Landon. He gets bored too. My philosophy is that if I start having him invite his friends over on a regular basis NOW, then when they are all older they'll WANT to keep coming over. Even if there's 10 of them, I'd rather have them here as teenagers than off somewhere getting into trouble.
And yes, you can totally go have a Mojito if you've dropped your kid off for a play date at someone else's house. There is no rule written that you can't! :0) I say go for it!

Jodi said...

I am also raising an only child and these are the things I struggle with.

Don't let anyone tell you you are being selfish. You need to do what is right for you and your family and only you can determine that.

Busy Mom said...

Don't mean to scare you, but, I'm an only child, and, look how I turned out.

Robin (the PENSIEVE one) said...

Has the subject of adoption ever been broached? Am I crossing a line to even ask that?? (Forgive me if I am...you know bloggers...they'll pry til you smack 'em around a bit).

My 15 year old daughter often laments not having a sister (she does have two brothers); I've told her there's no way I could have another baby at (yikes!) almost 45. Her response is always the same...adopt.

(btw, I was going to add your blog to my recent link thing, and realized Beth had already done so! Great minds...:) ).

Anonymous said...

Only children learn how to entertain themselves. That prepares them for going out into the world independently at some point, unless you're smothering him, so try not to do that. ;)

No guilt. You made the choice you made, and it is up to you and your husband. No one else. It's not selfish, it just is.

I'm so glad we live in a real neighborhood where kids still come out and play with each other spontaneously. My parents never put an ounce of effort into getting me together with friends, so it really annoys me that parents today have to be such full time social directors for their own children. Whatever happened to all just showing up in someone's back yard after dinner every day? Darn modern world.


Amy said...

The butt itch thing is SO funny!

I see why you feel bad about him not having sibs, esp. when you have so many! Playdates seem like a really good option!

Jen said...

But your son has tons of cool cousins and that's awesome! It was just me and one sister growing up, but our dad is one of seven and our mom is one of five, so we had a HUGE extended family. It was a blast!

High Hopes said...

HB, Don't guilt yourself over this. I have one kid and I am past being fruitful and multiplying. I understand your feelings and fears. Adoption has been suggested, but if you are doing this just to have a playmate for your child I think those are the wrong reasons. I know there would be more to it than that though it would be because you truly wanted another child.

I arrange playdates all the time and do my very best to give my daughter balanced time with other kids so she isn't stuck to me like flypaper. We tend to have her friends over at our house all time and most parents don't reciprocate which is kind of irksome.

My dd is 10, so we can talk about it if it crops up and it has. Unfortunately I think one is all there is in the cards. I just tell her that God has given me the biggest blessing in the world - her and that she is enough for me.

Being in my mid 40's I really don't want to do diapers and sleepless nights again - the teenage years are coming to close for that.

Valarie said...

Wow, I just realized we have some things in common. There are six of us, one boy and five girls. Also I have a Logan who is 7.

As far as the baby thing. I suggest praying about. God will lead you in the direction you need to go.

Sister Big said...

One kid, three kids, eight kids, whatever. They'll all end up in therapy for one reason or another. So Logan goes because he was an only child. Should be a short session for his therapist.

Sister 7 said...

You know my story. I never thought I would have kids either (fertility issues) and I had Audrey then the little suprise Madison (way to early if I may say. Poor Audey wasn't even 2 when I had madison). One thing I always worry about is spending enough individual time with each of them. Usually when the one needs some attention the other hones in on me and the one who needs the attention doesn't get it. I have one very laid back child (not demanding) and one very demanding child.I always feel I neglect my oldest because of what the youngest demands. We are homeschooling our girls and play dates are really important to us. Yesterday (after we did school - 10:30 am) we went over to my friend shannon's house. She has two kids a girl and a boy and they are good friend with my girls. They had a blast. Audrey and Ryan went on "missions" the entire time and Madison and Andi (miranda) played outside. It gave shannon and I a chance to talk. We try and do it a couple of times a month.

echolily said...

This is such a personal decision that only you are your husband can decide. I think it is okay if you choose to not have anymore kids at your age. I am almost 36 and have a 6 month old. I'd love to have another but realistically if it doesn't happen in the next two years or so it probably won't.

Sister Sassy said...

Well as long as Sawyer and Kiki don't have to be the ones helping GoGo whipe your butt at the nursing home- its all up to you.

But like Sister 7 says, sometimes I feel like I manage my kids more than parent them. Its one task to the next. JimmyEW and I have decided to do individual dates with them, just split with one and go. But nothing is perfect.

Heidi said...

You know I was sort of thinking about this today before reading yoru blog. The most fun I had with any of my kids was with Marcy. She had the most space between her and the others. I just kept thinkig how nice it would be to give each child more of a only child feeling.

Also, I am still struggling with the twins on all of the other things I could be doing. It was really nice when we just had three. We were both working and could plan ahead for vacations, finally some me time, save a bit for retirment, etc. I feel like I am being selfish when I think along those lines as well.

Try not to guilt yourself too much. I think Logan is a lucky little man to have a mom like you. He will enjoy it all and can have that same relationship with his cousins or a good friend.

DBN said...

Honestly though, we have a 4 yo boy and a 3 yo girl and they get sick of each other also! So, I still need to do better about having a third child come over or two other children over to keep them from wanting to beat the other up.
I'm new to your blog, but this post caught my attention.

Anonymous said...

Only child here (I turned out great LOL!)

Lisa xo

Brother JimmyEatWorld said...

HB, kiki and logan have a date on Friday night (as long as everyone feels ok) at the Great Wolf Lodge. Oh yeah, skee-ball. Kiki plans on calling logan up tonight and inviting him. Kiki does love his brother, but I think there are times that he would much rather have someone closer to his age to play with.

Martha said...

I hear you loud and clear, Bunch o' Honey!

My noodle is an only - she's fine with it - but I can't help but think about how tough it's going to be on her when we get old and she needs to change our Depends. Maybe the thought of her doing that will make me NOT wet my pants when I'm an old gal :)


Wendy said...

Finally, someone who is going through what I'm going through! I am ripped with guilt over my daughter being an only child. But, now she's 9 and I'm 40 and the thought of starting over again terrifies me - but not worse than the health risks of having a child past 40. Not to mention, we are able to give my daughter so much, both timewise and material. I love that about our situation. I had 2 sisters and always felt like I was in last place (even though I was first born). I have been blessed with a beautiful child inside and out and am too scared to jinx that! I realize this is an old post that I'm responding to, but I stumbled across it and HAD to chime in! Thanks for your honesty!