I am an only child.
Raised by a divorced mom who worked full time, I spent many days of my youth alone. I had a babysitter when I was very young, but I soon fought for the right to become a latchkey kid, and my mom granted the privilege when I was in third grade. By middle school I was staying home by myself even when she worked 3-11pm shifts.
Some people say only children are misfits. They are selfish and spoiled, and often are loners lacking in social skills yet terribly lonely. I think this is a gross oversimplification of only children, and I’m sure many grew up with none of those issues. From my experience, only some of the stereotypes are true. I was certainly not spoiled, because my mom didn’t have a lot with which to spoil me. I did lack in social skills, but only amongst my peers. I was quite capable of carrying on a conversation with adults, but found my peers to be immature and boring. I was lonely at times, but I also found comfort in being alone, and enjoyed the peace of the silence in our house many nights as I sat on the couch and read a book.
Still, I could never shake the desire of wanting a sibling. My childhood best friend had two older siblings, and they fought like caged wild animals at times. But at least she had someone to fight with. Me, well, I could try picking a fight with the cat I guess. I dreamed I would get help with my homework from an older sibling, or I would teach a younger sibling to play my favorite games. I imagined it would be lovely to have someone around to talk to who didn’t have to go home for dinner.
And now I find myself thinking about my daughter. She is currently an only child, and Aaron and I have been discussing when to plan the next child. Part of me is scared about the thought of raising two children. I have no experience dealing with siblings – how will I handle their fights? Will Cordelia resent another child coming along and taking some of the attention away from her? Will we not be able to provide as much for Cordy with another child?
As an only child, my mom was able to devote her limited resources to just me. Had I had a brother or sister, I might not have been able to go to college as easily, or been given the help my mom has provided with Cordy. Am I limiting her by having another child?
The other part of me yearns for another baby. I love being a mother, and I know there is plenty of room in my heart for another child. I remember the lonely times of being an only child, the awkwardness around my peers, and I don’t want Cordy to experience those dark moments of an only child experience.
I also think that Cordy could benefit from a sibling. Look at how many people out there have siblings they are close with. Aaron and his brother get along very well, although he tells me that they didn’t get along nearly as well when they were younger. There are lots of useful learning experiences a sibling could help provide: sharing, resource management, taking turns, helping, parental manipulation, etc.
The plan to have another child is likely to move forward. We both want another baby. The grandparents want more grandkids. Everyone is in agreement. I only hope Cordelia will love any younger sibling that comes along, and that she won’t one day wish that she had been an only child.
What about you? Were you an only child or did you have siblings? Do you wish things had turned out differently for you? (more siblings, less siblings, none?)