In light of my trip to London this week to talk about my decision to never have another baby thanks to Hyperemesis Gravidarum, I’ve decided it is an aspect of our lives that I want to focus on in more detail. I’ve touched on it before and you can find out more on my “One Child Family” page.
However as one child families are on the rise, for a multitude of reasons, I thought it would be both fun and beneficial to find out from others just how they came to be a “one child family” and what it has meant to them.
I have already made some great connections online with other parents of only children and so I am beginning my series with one such parent, the lovely Mary from Over 40 and a Mum to One.
Mary is mum to Monkey, who is 4 years old (soon to be 5 in December, which we all know is a very important detail at this age!)
Can you tell me a little about yourself?
“I’m a mid 40 Mum of one. Before Monkey was born I had a busy career in Export Sales and enjoyed visiting customers across Europe. But since becoming a Mum I decided to take time out and enjoy life with my son. We’ve had an amazing time together and I now look forward to watching him as he starts his journey through school.”
Can you explain how and/or why you decided to have an only child? Was it something you always planned or did some circumstance force you to make the decision?
“I had always hoped to have two children, I certainly didn’t set out to have an only child. I had Monkey when I was 41, and fell for him within 3 months of trying. I knew that time was against me to have number two, but it took longer to fall second time around. Lots of tears when each month nothing had happened. Then I fell pregnant early in 2011 but had a rather unpleasant miscarriage just before my 12 week scan. It was heartbreaking and for me I just couldn’t go through that again. By this time I was 43 and just felt that I could either spend each month getting more upset that I wasn’t pregnant, or draw a line under it and be happy with what I had – a beautiful little boy. My OH works very long hours so I’m practically a single parent really, with no family support. I was tired and worn out and just realised that for me, that was that. It was upsetting, and I’ll always feel guilty that Monkey doesn’t have a sibling. But he’ll never know what he’s missed.”
Do you know other parents who have an only child, or are you the only person in your group of friends/colleagues who has stopped at one?
“My oldest school friend has an eight year old daughter and always knew she would only have one child; and another friend tried IVF a few times after not being able to conceive for a second time, they failed. But in general all of my friends have at least two children now.”
Do people often ask you, “so when are you going to have another?” If so, how does this make you feel and how do you respond?
“Friends and family used to ask, but I’ve always been open about my miscarriage and they know how devastated I was at the time. I think most people who don’t actually know me, presume that I had to have IVF to have Monkey in the first place!”
Can you share some of the best things about being a parent to an only child?
“They have your full concentration. There are no arguments about sharing/breaking toys, unlike my friends. I don’t have to worry about activities that will cater for two different age groups or interests. Everything can be totally focused on what Monkey likes.”
And what are the hardest things about having an only child?
“Knowing he won’t have the sibling relationship that I had with my brother growing up. Worrying about Monkey being spoilt and not as sociable as other children. Being older parents I worry about Monkey being alone to deal with life in the future. I’ve always been lucky that my brother and I have supported each other in difficult times.”
Does your son/daughter ever ask about siblings? If so, how does this make you feel and how do you respond to their questions?
“When our NCT group had their second children – all boys, I was waiting for Monkey to ask when he was going to get a brother too. He never has. But last week when he started school, he asked me why his friends were going a different way home. I told him that they had older brothers and sisters to collect from other classes. Oh, ok Mummy. Can I have a brother or sister then? It made me feel sad. I just said that I didn’t think he’d like to share his train set would he? Oh no Mummy! That was end of that conversation. But if he asks again then I’ll try to explain why he’s an only child.”
What are the best and worst things that people have told you about only children? Do people tell you they will be “spoiled” or “lonely”? Or are people generally positive about your decision?
“I can’t actually think of anyone making comments about him being an only child to be honest.”
Do you worry about any of these things, or are you confident that your child will thrive as an only child?
“I am worried that I do spoil Monkey, it can also be the downside to blogging when new and exciting things keep popping through the letterbox! I’m sure there will be times when he might feel lonely, but he is very good at entertaining himself. He is very timid and no matter what I have done to try to make him more confident, I’ve had to accept that this is who he is.”
If you could offer some advice to someone who was considering raising an only child, what would you say?
“The most important thing is to have a happy child who knows that they are loved. That’s the only thing to consider in my opinion.”
I’d like to thank Mary for taking part in this series and answering all my questions so openly and honestly. If you’d like to find out more about Mary and her life with Monkey, you can find her on her blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram and Pinterest.
This post is part of my “Let’s Talk About… One Child Families” series. If you are a parent to an only child and would like to take part, please get in touch using my contact form.