Dear Mom of “Just One Child”,
Let me first start by apologizing for the people who’ve said that to you….for the people who have said, “but you only have one child”. How insulting.
Standing in the grocery store the other day, I could see it on your face. Your little boy was grumpy and moody, and certainly wasn’t being “kind” with his mini-tantrum. He crossed his arms and made a pout face, and I chuckled, because I have “one of those kids” too. And as you rolled your eyes and began to walk, the mother walking past you with five children chuckled too. But instead of just smiling and saying, “cheer up”, she decided to innocently say, “goodness, imagine having 5 of those!”
You forced a small smile and a “yeah…really…”, but as you looked at him your heart felt happiness and sadness all at once. Your face was crinkled with annoyance and you probably prayed a quick prayer, hoping this shopping trip would be short and sweet the rest of the time. How embarrassing for you.
Our eyes met, I smiled and said, “it’s ok, I have one of those too, only one, and honestly, it doesn’t matter whether you have 1 or 10, it’s never the same….but it will get better.” And your body language completely changed. You relaxed and said, “thank you, you have no idea how much I needed that”, and grabbing your little ones hand, you smiled and went about your way, and I mine.
It’s mostly harmless when people say it — you must realize that. But most don’t realize the frustration it can cause a mom of “just one child”.
The reality is that whether you have one child, or 20 children, it’s never the same.
Women with multiple children have most likely never had a single child at an older age unless they began having more children later in life. Therefore, they absolutely cannot sympathize with you on the daily challenges you have with “just one child”. At the same time, you cannot sympathize with them on the daily challenges they have with multiple children. But it’s still “different”. Your challenges will not be the same as theirs, and their challenges will not be the same as yours.
We don’t go around saying, “wow, imagine only having one of those….” how insulting would that be to a mother with multiple children?
We’re all mothers, and just because we have one child or multiple children, it doesn’t make us better or more able than any other mother. Your parenting skills do, not the number of children you have. Your life isn’t any harder or easier because of the number of children you have, because your life adapts.
Whenever the statement is said, “imagine having two….” or three or five or fifteen….I always have to bite my tongue. Actually, I have “imagined” having more than one child for the past 5 years, but the sad reality is, I don’t have them here with me. Whether from infertility or miscarriage, it just hasn’t happened yet, and therefore, it remains “in my imagination”. But people don’t realize…..
Or what if you’re a mother of one child and that’s just all that you want? Maybe your job doesn’t allow you to spend time with your children like you’d want to. Maybe you’re a single mom. Or maybe your marriage isn’t in a place where you want to have more children right now. Or maybe one was enough for you, because you’ve realized you really just can’t handle another one. Good for you, there is absolutely no failure in that, don’t beat yourself up about it. Because it takes greater courage to not have children than it does to have children you cannot adequately and emotionally tend to properly.
Momma, I get it. And maybe it doesn’t annoy me all of the time, because I understand the true intention. But sometimes, I just wish people would think before they speak as if they “know more” than we do….
Which brings me to my next letter….
Dear “Imagine Having More Than One of Them” Mom,
Please stop. Because the truth is, when a mom of one child is venting or struggling, the struggle is real. And no, you absolutely cannot sympathize because you have “more kids than her”. Her struggles are much different than yours, and your struggles are very real as well!
We are one child’s entertainment all day long. Sounds fun, right? No. There are no play mates, we are the play mate. There is no one to fight with other than “mom”. And quite honestly, they get tired of seeing mom all of the time. But guess what, we love this child with ever fiber in our being.
Many of us still work for a living, and some of us from home….guess what, that means we have to work, make money, make phone calls, be glued to a computer half the day, some of us homeschool, AND take care of a child. Oh, and we have a house to tend to. And when we can’t pay attention to them, and they don’t have a playmate (even if they fight), we feel guilty….really, really guilty….
Some of us work all day outside of the home, which means less time with our child, which means our child becomes independent and clingy all at once. Or maybe they just become rebellious or even introverted. And then they want our attention at home, but sadly, we still have a house to clean and real life is waiting for us.
Some of us have it easy, we really do. While others have a completely different situation….with “just one child”.
Some of us who can’t have more children think about it, often. We think about how our child may never have a sibling to laugh with, and even to fight with. We think about how our child will never have a brother or sister to stand beside at a wedding, or how his future children may never have an aunt or uncle on his side of the family. We think about how our child will most likely have his childhood days cut short, because he’ll be more independent than most, and will be more mature at an older age than most boys his age. The list goes on…..
Maybe next time instead of saying “imagine having xx of them” say something like, “it’s ok, all kids are like that, it will get better”.
Wow!! How much more encouraging that would be for a mother to hear rather than the condemnation that she shouldn’t feel annoyed with her child because she “just has one”.
Most of all, don’t forget that we’re in this together. No matter how many children we have or don’t have, we are the only ones who can sympathize with each other. We are the only ones who “get” one another. Build a community of like minded people, not just like minded family sizes. Encourage fellow moms, and choose your words wisely. There literally is a heartbreak behind every door, and while you may say something that you think is harmless, sometimes, it’s not. It’s not your fault, at all, but there are ways around it.
Most of all, try to be understanding.
And stop trying to hide flaws. We all have them, we all know it. We’re wasting our time when we act like we don’t. Share them. Embrace them. And teach others how to do the same.
We’re all in this together….and our kids are too….