As the title of this blog, and the first post, implies, I only have one child, and will only have one child. For me and my husband this is a conscious choice that was made prior to ever becoming pregnant. I’ve never had a problem sharing this information when talking about family. I’m not ashamed of the choice, it’s not some sort of secret, it’s a fact. What I do have a problem with is people probing about why, or insisting that I will change my mind, or even worse indicating that I should change my mind because the decision is somehow wrong and will negatively impact my only child.
That I will only have one child is a fact. A fact that will be publicly observable as time passes, therefore I see no reason to hide this fact. The why, however, is personal and unimportant for anyone but myself, my husband, and my daughter. This was not a flip decision on our part. There are reasons, and those reasons were carefuly considered in arriving at this decision. But, when someone, however innocent their intentions may be, makes a comment along the lines of “oh, you’ll change your mind when you miss the baby phase,” or “you’re child will be lonely,” or even better “only children are spoiled,” the implication is that my choice is invalid and poorly considered.
The same way it is inappropriate to question someone about whether or when they intend to have children, it is inappropriate to question my decision to have only one child. And going a step further, it is inappropriate to comment about or question someone’s decision to have a large number of children. Family planning is a personal choice. What works for one family will not work for other families. My reasons for having one child are not the same as another family’s reasons for making the same choice. My reasons for having one child are just as considered and valid as someone else’s reasons for having multiple children or no children.
It baffles me as to why people still think it is acceptable to comment on, or probe into the reasons for a particular family’s shape and size. I understand that these comments or questions are not typically coming from a place of malicious intent, but the fact remains that it is insensitive. That 33 year old woman with no children knows very well how old she is and that time is not infinite, and only she and her spouse know (and they are the only ones who need to know) that they’ve actually been trying to have a child for five years. That 26 year old woman with four children knows that four children are a handful, and yes, she knows what birth control is and whether it is something she wants to use and how she wants to use it. And me, I know that having one child means my daughter won’t experience a traditional sibling relationship. I know that the baby stage is short lived, and I will miss it when it’s completely gone. I also know that I am happy with this choice, and honeslty I am lucky. I was allowed to consciously make this choice prior to my pregnancy, which ultimately just reinforced the decision. Some women, like the one from this story, were not as lucky. The decision to have an only child was made for her by her body, and this is something that she is reminded of every time someone, however well intentioned, asks her if she is planning to have more.
I know, though, it can be very easy to slip and accidentally make a comment or ask a question without thinking about the implications. In fact, I’m going to fess up and admit that I’m sure I’ve been guilty of this very thing myself in the past, and for those times I sincerely apologize. If anything, I think the ease with which someone might inadvertantly make these comments, or ask such questions, just shows how ingrained in society it is to think that this is public business. So please, let’s change this. Let’s stop thinking the shape and size of a family is anyone’s business other than the members of that particular family. Instead let’s respect these choices and support each other in the creation of stable and loving homes, whether they have no children, one child, or ten children.