When I’m not busy contributing to all great stuff you find here at Staten Island Parent, I blog about my adventures in parenting. After perusing my website recently, a very sweet reader left a comment stating she only has one kid but still really enjoys all the stuff I write about. “ONLY” one kid, she said.
My kids are over three years apart, so I had “only” one kid for a while myself and let me tell you, having one kid is not necessarily easier than having two. It’s probably not even much easier than having a whole litter of ‘em actually.
Now that I have two kids, a nice chunk of my day is admittedly spent physically prying my children off of one another, mediating arguments prompted by pressing matters like whether it’s time to watch Team Umizoomi or Scooby Doo, and who gets to eat the last package of fruit snacks. But in between those annoying spurts of fighting, my home is filled with the joyful sounds of children playing together. Frequent fits of giggles and shrieks of laughter, freckled by mischievous moments of quiet scheming, then followed by even more explosive laughter– these are the sweet, sweet sounds of siblings getting along. And to me, they’re some of the most beautiful sounds you will ever hear. I think that if you could bottle the blissful sound of children’s laughter, it might just cure every illness under the sun.
I’m not implying that having one child will leave you with a dull, laughter-less home. Not at all. As any parent knows, all children are hilarious in their own way. We just tip the laughter scale around here even more than we used to before my second child came along.
Particularly for a new parent, caring for “only” one child can be one of the loneliest feelings in the world. In fact, I was extremely depressed for most of the three years I spent as a mother of one child. The door would close in the morning as my husband headed off to work, and the seemingly endless hours of loneliness would begin. I’d look down at my little guy and he’d look up at me, his eyes as wide as his expectations for the day, and I knew that keeping him content for those long hours was all on me. It’s a big job, and not an easy one.
Fact: there is really only so much coloring, finger-painting, and shape-sorting you can do before you start to lose your ever-loving mind.
Some moms like to stay busy by filling their toddler’s schedules with exciting play dates. And that’s great. But what about parents who, like I was, are new to their neighborhood and don’t have a ton of mommy friends with whom to set up play dates? You could sign your kid up for a playgroup or some type of class that encourages socialization, but those things aren’t always cheap. For new parents making ends meet, there’s rarely room in the budget for such expenses when you can roll a big ball around and sing The Wheels on the Bus to your kid at home for free.
Another problem I had when my son was an only child was sharing. At home, all of his precious toys were his and his alone. Without the frequent wails of “but it’s MY turn!” from a jealous sibling, sharing was a foreign concept to my little guy. I’ve always found it to be painfully awkward when your kid has engaged in a knock-down, drag-out, tug-of-war match with another kid over a toy, and the parents need to step in and encourage the angry toddlers to “take turns,” as if that really works. Usually the match rages on until the toy is removed and both children are sulking, or the other kid hands it over and your kid ends up looking bad. Either way it’s an uncomfortable situation that rarely results in any follow-up play dates.
So moms of “only” one child, do yourselves a favor and give a little, in fact a LOT, of credit where it’s due. Raising kids is tricky business, no matter how many you have. Every type of parenting comes with its own set of challenges- one kid, two kids, ten kids, twins, triplets, whatever. The bottom line is that you are raising a living, breathing, human being who is depending solely on you to keep him or her thriving and well, 24/7. It’s a big responsibility. I think, even for those parents raising a whole boatload of kids, we’re all just figuring out this parenting thing as we go.
By Jeannine Cintron, a Staten Island mom of two who would like to state, for the record, that she does NOT want a whole boatload of kids. Read her blog at www.HighchairsandHeadaches.com.