“You know, you really shouldn’t have such an age gap between kids. 2 years, 2 is the perfect gap! No more than 2 years!!”
“She’s already two? Oh, you definitely need to get started then!”
“OH! How can a child grow up without siblings? What a sad life!”
“Are you having trouble getting pregnant again?”
“You are being so selfish! This isn’t about you, this is about your daughter!”
All of these things have actually been said to me. By strangers. In Target. Regarding Avery being an only child. Friends have also pressured us, however they are usually a bit more tactful in their approach.
I’ve written before about how Avery would not be an only child, how we were just waiting for the right time to add to our family. However, recently, my husband and I have realized how incredibly awesome it is to just have one.
As only children ourselves, we LOVED our childhoods. We loved how being an only child helped us to be independent and creative, we loved the attention too, of course. We don’t love it so much as adults though and always thought we wanted to make sure our kids always had a support system, built-in friends, and someone who would be there when Dave and I grow old and pass on.
Our feelings on this have slowly been changing.
Well, for one, Avery is a perfect only child. She is not needy and she does not require a playmate at all times. In fact, oftentimes she prefers to play by herself, and do her own thing. Not to say that she doesn’t enjoy playing with others. She absolutely does, but, if there isn’t anyone around she is very creative and imaginative in her play. Whether it’s with dolls and toys, or drawing painting and coloring, she’s happy to entertain herself. Of course Dave and I play with her. We play games, and run around outside as a family. We color and dance, and have epic Dino Vs. Duck battles. But in those times when I really need to get work done, or take a conference call, I can say “Hey bug, momma really needs to work, can you please play by yourself for a little bit” and she can! She’s happy and content.
There are also the financial aspects of having multiple children. Kids are expensive. I know there are families who make choices every month over buying food or paying the electric bill, buying diapers or putting gas in the car. We make things work here. We pay our bills, and fortunately, now that I’m working closer to full-time, we have some money for fun extras, but if we had another child, that would change. I wouldn’t be able to work for a few months most likely, which would eliminate that second income. For me, personally, bringing a child into that financial situation isn’t OK. I know that you make sacrifices; We did when we had Avery. I just don’t think Avery should have to sacrifice anything because we choose to have another child.
Avery takes dance class, swim lessons, soccer, and a tumbling tikes class. If we had another child, that would stop. She’d be able to do one activity, once a week, most likely the least expensive one. I just don’t think that is fair to her. She loves all her activities, and I fully understand that she is only 2, but she asks to go to them every day. I love the interaction she gets as well as the fitness aspect of it and the emotional and intellectual development aspects. It would get even more difficult and more expensive as she and potential future sibling get older. I just don’t like the idea of missing one child’s soccer game because the other child has a dance recital, or missing one kid’s prom because the other kid has a softball tournament in Florida. I know that’s a long way down the road, but it is something that we have thought a lot about.
And then there is the whole “Disney” thing. We like to travel, we like to go on vacation (once a year) and we LOVE Disney. All that stuff is expensive. Airfare is insane, more kids means larger hotel rooms which are more expensive, tickets and admissions, everything adds up. And while it’s affordable for us now as a family of three, it wouldn’t be nearly as affordable as a family of four (or more) I know that all sounds stupid to some people, but for us it is a part of our life–something we really enjoy–and it’s not something we want to lose. Even just going to a museum or aquarium can become unaffordable for some families, and if you know me, you know that I really love going on those little adventures as often as possible. (weekly if we can)
It’s not just these “what if” feelings and the financial aspects, there is also the whole fact that I don’t have any desire whatsoever to be pregnant or raising another newborn right now. Honestly, everyone, and I mean EVERYONE around me is getting pregnant and having babies and while those babies are oh so precious and cute, I don’t have any baby fever at all. Others are all “Ohhhh my ovaries!! I want another one!” and I’m all “Oh, no…no thank you!” I have no desire whatsoever to be pregnant right now, no desire to have a newborn. None.
And my original thoughts about her NEEDING a sibling for the hard times when Dave and I inevitably, aren’t here anymore…well, I’ve rethought those. Of course there are siblings who are the best of friends and are inseparable, but I’m starting to find that is not really the norm. I mean, of course most siblings are close in some way, but I definitely don’t think that closeness is a given. I know many more siblings who are not close, many who rarely see each other, other who haven’t seen each other in years, and some who do not speak to each other at all. I no longer feel like I need to birth a friend for Avery. She’ll have friends. I wont be raising her in a cave in the Andes mountains. She’ll be in school and extracurricular activities, she’ll go to college and have a job, she’ll make her own friends without me making one for her.
I know Avery would be a great big sister, but she really is such an awesome only child and I think she would thrive being the only one. She also tends to avoid babies like the plague. While all the other toddlers run over to check out the new baby in the room Avery is like “Yeah, I’m just gonna play over here by myself…what is that thing?!?!” (But bring a 7 year old into the room and she’s all “HEY KID!! I’m Avery!!!”)
I just want Avery to be able to do anything she wants to do! If she wants to try tennis, I don’t want to say “No, sorry we can’t afford it” Or “No, sorry, it’s the same night and time as sibling’s dance class” I want to say “Oh yes!! That would be really fun!! Let’s give it a shot and see if you love it!” I want her to be able to experience new things, and not have to say no because we can’t afford it.
I know it probably sounds, to some, like I want her to be spoiled, but that’s not really it. I don’t want her to be spoiled in things, but I do want her to be spoiled in experiences, and in time with Dave and me. I think she deserves that.
And maybe my feelings will change down the line, maybe Dave and I will decide when Avery is older, that yes, we do in fact want to add to our family. I just don’t think there needs to be pressure, there doesn’t need to be a timeline. Kids do not need to be two years apart “no more, no less” Who made that weird rule anyway? Or maybe our feelings wont change. Being an only child is not a “sad life” as the strange woman in the target bathroom told me. Being an only child is an awesome way to grow up.
I love being a mom of one, I love being a family of three. It feels perfect right now.