My One and Only

I never thought I’d have an only child.

I’m one of three kids, and I have few childhood memories that don’t include my brother and sister. I was never alone in the back seat, I didn’t have to play by myself in the summer, and I know exactly how to organize a game of kickball requiring only three people. My sister didn’t let me borrow her clothes as much as I’d have liked, but she did give me a ride to high school when I was a sophomore, so I didn’t have to take the dreaded bus. My brother played Barbies with me until we both figured out that playing He-Man would be a lot more fun. As grown ups, my siblings are two of my best friends and my favorite people.

So when John was a baby, the idea of not having someone to sit with him in the back seat just seemed a little mean. Wouldn’t he be lonely? Eventually, wouldn’t he be angry about it?

Over time, I have become 100% comfortable with the fact that sweet John is our one and only. Aside from the unpredictability of time and biology, I can clearly see that with one child and my job and life in general, I’m at maximum capacity. Other remarkable people can balance more, but I don’t think I could. This is the space where I can be most happy and hopefully do my best at all my various jobs, both inside and outside my house.

Although I never question the decision to have just John, I do spend a lot of time thinking about it. I think about other only children I’ve known. Although there aren’t too many, lots of them are fantastic. How did being an only shape them? (Interestingly, none of them have gone on to have an only child. Hmm.) And what about John himself? Did he learn to read easily because we read to him so much and didn’t we have more time to read because he’s an only child? Does he refuse to play by himself because I play with him all the time because he’s an only child? Will that change? Should I stop?

I also think a lot about the importance of family and friends in his life. If he’s not going to have siblings, then cousins and lifelong friends matter even more. I do everything I can to keep those relationships safe and strong.

It’s very likely that I’m over thinking this, because I tend to do that. If you’ve ever seen this blog, you’re very well aware of that. There’s no way of knowing how being an only has and will continue to shape John, because he’s never been anything else. And there’s no way of knowing what kind of mother I would have been to a group of two or three, because what I have is a boy and a cat.

Without regret but with great interest, I have a feeling this is something I’ll continue to think about for many years to come — for all of his life, or at least for the rest of mine.

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