I’m an only child raising an only child. Throughout my life, as people inquired about my siblings or family size their reaction to my only child status always has gotten a reaction. A mixture of surprise and sadness, best I can tell.
Now as a mother who is often asked how many children I have, I get that same reaction when I answer, “One.” I sense that same curiosity and concern. From a mother’s perspective, it often feels like disapproval as well.
I suppose since I myself don’t have siblings, I don’t find it all that odd that my child doesn’t. The reaction is almost always met with unanswered questions that hang in silence after an awkwardly long “ohh.” People want to know why we only have one child. Perhaps they wonder if we tried for more, have babies in heaven, or if our one child was unplanned. Thankfully, they almost never ask.
Here’s the thing. While I feel confident that an only child can grow up to be a completely well-adjusted adult, part of me wishes for things that will never be. I will never see my oldest child meet his baby sibling. I will never see my children play together. I will never have the peace of mind knowing that my child has a lifelong friend.
When I look into the future, I wish I imagined a bond between my children. If I go down the path of thinking the worst, what if something happened to my husband and I, the fear our child would be all alone in this world brings a rush of panic. It leaves me out of breath, feeling certain I’ve let my child down.
If I go even deeper down a dark path and think of the worst thing I can imagine, losing my one and only child, I fear losing my motherhood and wonder if my faith would sustain my earthly days.
I’ve had other mothers tell me I’m not really a mother. I’m not outnumbered and I’ve not refereed disputes, so by their calculations, I’m not really a mother.
If you’ve perhaps felt the sting of those same words or if you’ve feared for your only child’s future, I hope you’ll keep reading because I have some truths I’d like to share.
- Siblings are not guaranteed to get along. While you envision close relationships that might’ve been, there’s a solid chance they would rarely speak to each other.
- Your child won’t think being an only child is weird. They have grown up with your undivided love and attention, therefore they believe they’re pretty awesome. Only children often are quite independent because they’ve spent time alone. They will build their own support system of relationships. They won’t have to be alone, but they will be OK when they are.
- Regardless of how this child came to be your only—whether your body betrayed you, whether time ticked by too quickly, whether an oops became your life’s greatest gift, whether one is all you needed to complete your family, whatever the circumstance—you are 100 percent a mother. Never, ever doubt that. Your child never does.
This child is the center of your universe. This child will receive all of your love. This is your favorite child. This is not “just one” this is the one that God chose for you. Be settled in that knowledge.
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