Welcome everyone! It’s week thirty one of the “On Being Childfree” blog series and today Nikki is sharing her experience on parenting an only child. As I mentioned quite early on in the series, I am also encouraging parents of only children to share their stories if they would like to since speaking to many of my friends who have children, the constant questioning around when the siblings will be born is never-ending. Nikki has certainly encountered this. Please do read, leave a comment and share as much as you can, I’m really willing this to grow and grow so that we can help as many people as possible who may be going through something similar.
I’ve also started to build a resource list, for those of you who are either childfree by circumstance or childfree by choice. A combination of blogs, communities, individuals who are doing wonderful things in this space. Please do let me know if there are resources you use I can add.
We Are: Nikki & Hugh, late 30s and Bobby, 6
Home Is: Cheltenham
We Do: I work in accountancy and Hugh works in insurance
“Why do you only have one child?”
“They’ll grow up spoiled”
“Don’t you worry they’ll be lonely? All only children are lonely”
“Never say never, you can always change your mind”
“I’d never have an only child”
“When are you having another one?”
Just some of the many statements I’ve heard and questions I’ve been asked over the past 6 years, from family to friends and almost virtual strangers. I don’t really have a story as such, rather than just experiences that I wanted to share because I’m sure there must be people out there who are parents to just one child who also get fed up with the constant multiple child rhetoric.
There is no reason that we only have one child, other than choice. And yes you could argue that we’re both still young enough to have a second in either 6,7,8 years time. Again though, if we did it would be our choice and not for any other reason than that. Right now though we’re just really happy and content with how things are.
In my early 20s there was no question I’d get married and have at least 2 children and maybe 3. It just seemed the most standard path through life, not that it wasn’t exciting but I dunno, what people did. It really seemed to follow that pattern too, Hugh and I have been together since our mid-20s, got married early 30s and then Bobby was born. It was a straightforward pregnancy and labour, not issues or drama and even despite the difficulties of life with a new born, we both spoke fairly early on about trying for a second baby.
As more and more time went by though we just settled into life as the three of us. It wasn’t because we couldn’t have another baby, we made somehow a subconscious choice not to try in the end. We both agreed that our initial conversations had been more to do with what society expected of us (the questions about when there would be a sibling had begun), rather than that we actually wanted.
I was back on contraception and went back to work on compressed hours which I loved. I wanted Bobby to grow up with lots of different experiences and he’s always been a sociable little boy so nursery suited him perfectly, along with a day each with his grandparents and then time with me on the day I wasn’t working, and time with both of us at the weekends.
Is it a terrible thing to say that motherhood isn’t everything for me? I’m so happy and so lucky to be a mother, but it’s not all of who I am. I still enjoy my job, nights out with the girls, spending time with Hugh just the two of us. He really is my best friend and the person I’ve chosen to spend my life with, time together alone is so important for us and we’re lucky to have two very hands-on sets of grandparents. That said, they too have their own busy lives (good for them!) and have other grandchildren, it’s not fair to always expect them to be on hand.
Bobby is now nearly 7 and of course I’m biased but he has always been such a loving and kind little boy. Yes, he has our undivided attention and we love travelling with him and trying lots of different experiences which with both of us working is easier with just one child. The flipside is that because we both work he also knows that there will be time when he has to entertain himself and he plays really well independently (ie, far from being spoiled). School reports always say that like to help other children and share which we’re really proud of.
The strangest thing I suppose I’ve found over the years is a) the suspicion (“oh you’re the working Mum” I once encountered at nursery!) and b) how one way traffic all the questions seem to be. Do we question parents of two children who say they’re going to have a third? No. It’s to be championed and welcomed, regardless of whether they can afford it, whether they have enough time to devote to their children and whether we have a planet that can sustain larger families long term.
I would never ever think to question the choices of anyone and only wish everyone happiness. Lots of my friends have bigger families and although they freely admit life is chaotic, there is love and contentment because it comes in all shapes and sizes. I just long for a time when that understanding and support goes both ways. Those of us who are parents of just one child, or choose to have no children, we’re allowed to make choices too and shouldn’t be challenged for them.
Thank you so so much to Nikki for sharing her honest story as a guest poster and sharing her thoughts and views in this piece. As I’ve stressed from the very beginning, this is a warm, empathic platform for people to share their stories, hopes, dreams, fears. Please do read Nikki’s story and leave a comment if you’d like to and share this series if you know anyone it could help. Together we are making changes.