Coming to terms with an only child
By: Julie Ryan Evans
I have an only child.
I can finally say it without tears.
But I can’t leave it there. Just like that. With no explanation.
When asked if I have any other children (as I am on almost a daily basis), no is not enough.
I want to explain. I explain too much at times–the miscarriages, the thousands of dollars spent on pregnancy tests never to see two lines, the frightening premature birth of our son, the increased risks of another.
I want people–even strangers– to know that I didn’t chose to have an only child.
“Is he an only child?” they ask.
“Yes, for now,” I answer repeatedly. Or “Yes, but not by choice,” if I’m feeling particularly bold.
“Do you want any more children?”
“I’d take four more if it were up to me,” I tell them.
While stereotypes about only children raise my ire, there are also plenty about people who choose to have only children. I see nothing wrong with that choice, but it wasn’t mine. I wanted the chaos; I was fine putting my career on hold; I’m not worried about overpopulating the world.
My son asks regularly, “When will I be a brother?” I want him to know too that I’m not choosing to deny him this title. I’m one of four, and my brothers and sister are some of my favorite people on earth. I can’t imagine life without them. But my son, most likely, won’t have those bonds. And that, is the worst part.
After years of heartbreak and emotion, I’m finally coming to peace with it. The one child we have is the most amazing one I could have ever dreamed of; and I love our little family just the way it is.
But I didn’t choose it.
Tell us: Do you have an only child? Do you feel pressured to explain your small family’s status?