28 is pretty great

21 Feb

A lot of friends and family touted two as the dreamy year; all cuteness and cuddles and sweetness and for a long time I thought they were just flat out lying or that their children were far more adorable, sweet and cuddle-worthy than you. And then about a week before Christmas you started slowly emerging from the months long terror that was 25-26.5 months and you have continued in this vein of pretty damned tolerable for awhile. I’m not going to lie and say it is peaches and cream and loveliness all the time but this month has been one that I could potentially look back on in say, 15 years, and say, “Yeah, two wasn’t so bad.” I will most likely say this to a mother of a two-year-old who will probably want to beat me senseless because when people who don’t have toddlers say, “Oh, that is such a FUN age,” they have most likely completely forgotten what rotten little buggers two year olds can be. But, in 15 years you will be 17 and I’ll probably be longing for the days when our worst battles were over whether you wanted your diaper changed or not.

Actually, you never want your diaper changed so really it’s more like a battle of this is happening now whether you like it or not. I have started to ask you whether you want to do something the hard way or the easy way, explaining that the hard way will result in you crying and becoming really mad and that the easy way – i.e. my way – will be a much more pleasant outcome for us both. You consistently pick the easy way but this doesn’t stop you from incurring a few timeout warnings along the way before you finally submit to my demands. I don’t blame you for digging in your heels. If someone was as demanding of my time as I am of yours I would be pretty annoyed most of the time too. I mean, who wants to change a diaper when you could be watching The Cat in the Hat for the twentieth time? The Cat in the Hat is this month’s newest love. I have absolutely no idea how you found out that the Cat in the Hat has a show on television – we don’t even own the book – but somehow you found out about him. I suppose this is similar to you finding out about Dora the Explorer. We have not watched one minute of that show and yet you know who she is. School? Friends? The slow creep of pop culture into your life? Who knows.

A few weeks ago your dad and I got on an airplane without you and went to Mexico for a week leaving you behind with my parents, your beloved Nan and Charlie. As best as I could tell you had a marvelous week and didn’t miss us at all, which is great because it means we can take more trips without you as long as the grandparents are willing to put up with your shenanigans. And the trip was wonderful. I think we slept for eleven hours straight the first night, which was the most sleep I have gotten in one night in over two years. And we got to fly without you climbing all over us and we got to walk through the airport like normal people not chasing you up and down stairs and we got to go out to dinner and not have to race through our meal before you got bored and we got to go to the pool and not worry about you falling in. All in all, a lovely week. But I missed you so much more than I thought I would and when we got home I could barely wait to see you and when you exclaimed, “Mama!’ as I walked through the door I couldn’t believe that I had actually forgotten how sweet your voice sounds. And then you started talking to us in complete sentences and we couldn’t believe how much we had missed in one week. In fact you are talking so much now that I can understand 97% of what you say. The other day you actually started to tell me what you did at school that day without any prompting from me. It was a long description of eating pink cupcakes for a classmate’s birthday and how you got pink cupcake all over your face. Cupcakes certainly deserve unprompted discussion.

So the trip was a success all around and the only thing different from this trip than our last trip to Mexico was that I didn’t come home pregnant and that was a good thing too. I know you are far too young to understand now but I think perhaps I should tell you that you are not going to have any brothers or sisters. It seems like I should explain to you now, while I can somewhat coherently state our reasons, why your dad and I are not going to have any more children. I can imagine in four or five years you might ask us for a sibling and I might not be able to remember the reasons with the certainty I feel now.

First, you are perfect. OK, you aren’t perfect, but you are one pretty great kid all things considered. You are sweet, funny, really smart and quite adorable to boot. You have your dad’s gorgeous blue eyes and are a hilarious and sometimes frustrating combination of your parents’ best and more questionable qualities. I am sure that if we had another kid he or she would be perfect in his or her own way as well, so there are other reasons why we want to keep our family the way it is now. We like our life with just you. We cannot imagine adding another kiddo to the mix because of the toll it would take on all of us – the sleepless nights, the juggling of two schedules, the rewinding back to square one of infanthood is more than we can imagine. This would all pass in time because time, obviously, does pass and babies grow up and become toddlers and teenagers but I fear the work that it would require of your dad and me would be too great a burden for us to bear. I fear, being a somewhat impatient person to begin with, that two children would make me a terrible mother to two children instead of just a pretty good mother to you. I know this is all speculation. People have two, three, four – and here in Utah – dozens of children all the time and they survive. They find a way to make it work and I am truly in awe of those parents. Maybe the second baby would be a perfect angel, sleeping consistently through the night from day one and sitting quietly on my lap for hours at a time. Or maybe not. We are not willing to take that chance. I recently started compiling a list of things I want to do in my life and so many of them involve you – taking you to Paris, going camping, fishing with you in Montana, dropping you off at college. To have another child would delay all of these things and while many people would argue that I should hold onto these precious moments with you as a little little boy, I am so excited to teach you things that you cannot do now. I cannot wait for your father to teach you how fly fish, how to chop an onion correctly, and how to grill the perfect steak. Having another child wouldn’t keep us from doing that, but it would put it off by many years and I don’t want to wait to involve you in our lives. Your dad and I have big exciting things to do with you and we cannot wait for you to be old enough to share in them.

Ultimately, perhaps, we are making a selfish choice. We are choosing our happiness over your potential happiness of having a sibling. We are, perhaps, depriving you of the joy of having a little brother or sister. So I can only hope that we have created and will continue to give you a good and happy childhood. I hope, and I suppose all parents hope, that you look back on your childhood with an overriding sense of joy and that it becomes the basis for what you might want for your children. We will fail you plenty of times. We will make mistakes and make decisions that you disagree with. You will probably make a list of things you will never do to your kids and then, maybe, realize with time that we were right in the end to make you stick to that curfew, eat those vegetables, finish your homework, try a new food, give you a timeout or keep you from playing violent video games because we thought that was probably in your best interest. I hope that someday you will know that we made this decision out of our love for you and our certainty that just having you made for the very best childhood we could give you.

Author’s Note: I have read a lot of blog posts and articles about having one child and I hope that I have not inadvertently plagiarized anybody else’s thoughts on having one kiddo. If I have, please accept my sincere apologies and let me know so I can give proper credit.

23 Responses to “28 is pretty great”

  1. Matt, Amy and Abby Buell February 21, 2011 at 3:28 pm #

    So lovely… I'm glad you addressed the only child choice as well. I'm with you 100%! xoxo

  2. Darsa and boys February 21, 2011 at 5:16 pm #

    Beautifully written, as always.Without ever wanting to actually change my situation, I can still look at friends without children or with only one child and think, "I could have been happy with that." There are benefits and drawbacks with any choice.

  3. kate reymann February 21, 2011 at 7:30 pm #

    Thank you for your sweet and supportive comments and for commenting at all! It is so much fun to get them.

  4. Marebare February 22, 2011 at 5:07 pm #

    Oh Kate! You pretty much summed up EXACTLY how we feel about having just one kiddo. Except that you are way ahead of me in that I still have 'the guilt'. I am working on it and I am sure that I will get over it someday, but I wholeheartedly agree that one can be just perfect.Thanks for sharing your thoughts with the world!

  5. Brittany March 11, 2011 at 7:29 pm #

    so happy to read about someone else considering a one-child family. i think this is becoming more of a norm and i'm pretty sure right now that i don't want anymore than my one child. if you're doing what's best for your own family, there's nothing to feel guilty over…2 kids dramatically changes a family's dynamic, only that family can decide if it's for the best.

  6. thearmstrongtriangle March 20, 2011 at 1:38 pm #

    Kate,I always love reading your blog. It actually insprired me to write a monthly journal for my son when he was born last April. We too have chosen to only have one child for very similar reasons as you and your husband. Don't forget the financial aspect, with only one we can afford private schooling, pay for university and go on long vacations overseas. Both my husband and I were only children and absolutely LOVED our childhood, so don't buy into the only children are lonely etc. Looking forward to your next post.

  7. Michelle March 30, 2011 at 10:29 pm #

    I wanted to stop at one, especially because she was such a handful from day-one! So independent! But my husband insisted on a sibling. Unfortunately, she felt she had been de-throned and never really got over it. We endured many long years of fighting and door slamming…but it was so worth it to have my second girl. She is my little love bug…so submissive and just lives to please me. She will probably be the one to take care of me when I'm old!

  8. Aron April 12, 2011 at 10:49 pm #

    I can't believe that we are going to have one of those!That first photo is so sweet!Aronwww.babymine.net

  9. Jessica August 6, 2012 at 1:47 pm #

    That's a beautiful little man you have 🙂 Great post!

  10. Karin August 6, 2012 at 3:55 pm #

    Thank you so much for sharing this on " a cup of Jo"! My little girl was 2 last months and I could have written your post…well, apart from the Mexico part;-) we are in Switzerland. It looks like Amy will be our only child for pretty much the same reason you mention and I am glad, you are still happy with your decision a few years on. Fingers crossed, we will too. Can not wait to surf through your blog now to see more of your little man.

  11. Robin August 6, 2012 at 4:49 pm #

    I am happy you posted this on Cup Of Jo! I also have an only, he is 4 now and we are a very happy little family. Our reasons are similar to yours, but I have to say I never feel guilty. I feel that giving our son 100% of our time and resources is a pretty awesome gift! I am the youngest of 3 and my husband is the youngest of 4 so we already have a large family – I love that we have that but can always come home to our cozy little nuclear family. I also wrote (not as thoughtfully, I admit) about having an only, and also referenced a great article on the topic, check it outhttp://no-one-thing.blogspot.com/2010/07/amen.html

  12. Anonymous August 6, 2012 at 8:01 pm #

    I have three and whilst I would never ever call anyone's choice to account, I always think an only child is a control issue. To have more than one means that you reconcile yourself to coming second in so many ways and if you are prepared for that then the rewards are great. Hell, I have three teenagers and I'm still saying that! I'm married to an only child and my only comment would be that when you are 50 with parents in their seventies it's tough.

  13. Anonymous August 6, 2012 at 11:58 pm #

    Dear anonymous,"always a control issue"? Anonymous, some of us, perhaps even many of us have only been blessed with one child. Despite our hoping and wanting, we are unable to have another. You may say, well, there's adoption. Yes, yes there is. But there are waits and issues with that as well, as anyone who has actually adopted can tell you. Thank you to Kate for this great post that illuminates some of the joys of having an only. We shouldn't have to justify our decision (or our lot!) to others and I just wish others could be more understanding that families come in all shapes and sizes.Ruby

  14. elisebuck August 7, 2012 at 1:27 am #

    Hallelujah! Thanks so much for putting into words what I have been trying to explain to my friends and family for years now! You have captured our thoughts perfectly. I feel that my family is complete. There is no one missing. We are all here, and that just happens to three of us.

  15. Kate August 7, 2012 at 1:51 am #

    Kate, Thanks for putting this link on 'A cup of Jo'. Our little man is nearly 16 months of age and we love him more than words can say. We too have pretty much made the decision to have just him. I met my husband, my baby's father, late in life and similarly to what you have written, we just wouldn't be able to do for two what we wont to do as soon as possible for one. If only we didn't have to justify our choices to people who say 'well you can't do that!'. Any other suggested reading for those of us who have decided to have one baby would be appreciated. Thanks again Kate. Love Kate (Brisban.e, Australia)

  16. kate reymann August 7, 2012 at 3:56 pm #

    Wow! Thank you all for your lovely feedback and comments. It is always fun to get comments on a post you wrote a long time ago and know it still resonates.Kate, the one post I always go back to is Finslippy's post about just having one after her miscarriage. I did not go through what she went through, but her ending paragraph about Henry being "enough" always makes me cry. It is so beautifully written. http://www.finslippy.com/blog/only.htmlThis one is good too – more science but I like the realism vs. selfishness part – http://www.babble.com/baby/baby-care/only-child-selfish/Just having Luke is what is going to work for our family. Someone once told me that my husband and I are in charge of our family and we get to make the rules. As ridiculously simple as that seems, that was a life changing moment for me. We get to decide what is good for us; no one else.

  17. fran Gilboy August 7, 2012 at 8:00 pm #

    I am a mother to one.He is 11 now and such a smart, kind, compassionate, well traveled child.I knew early on that he'd likely be 'it' in the child department for us. I am an artist and have my own business and didn't want to give up my autonomy to become a "full time mother". That said, I admire those who do. At one time I thought 4-6 kids would be perfect!For me, the issue was largely a financial one. It was REALLY important for me to do work I LOVE doing and not taking on a job that's 'good enough' and pays for a lifestyle that requires more from me, financially. If I love the work I do, then we are all happier at home!I am able to dance and teach and run my little barber shop. I sold our car last year and we made the change to become a walking/cycling family, a choice that would be much more difficult with more children. It offers Manni and I HOURS to talk about life as we amble along our city streets.WIth Manni, and only Manni, we are still able to go on trips to far away lands together and this simply would not be possible with more children in our lives. I have worked hard to create a balance in my life where my needs, my husbands needs and Manni's needs are cared for. I for one am extremely happy with our decision!Manni has also made it clear how happy he is being an "enfant unique" (only chld).To all mother's everywhere, making difficult decisions, may you be happy and fullfilled with your mothering experience, however it unfolds!

  18. Geri August 8, 2012 at 1:20 am #

    Thank you so much for posting this link on a cup of jo. We have a very energetic (ie exhausting) 3 year old and are talking about having another baby. 2 1/2 years ago I was adamant he was going to be an only child. he suffered terribly with reflux and cried ALL the time. My husband was upset at the thought of only having one but never pushed me to try for a second. We moved to the states and of course it took time to settle in so it was never the right time to talk about number two. In the meanwhile I started thinking that I'd like samuel to have a brother or a sister. he's a very sociable kid, not jealous at all, loves babies and asks for a playmate all the time. My husband delivered the news a couple of days ago that he's happy with our little family unit and doesnt' want to "spoil" things with another one. he sees the bond me and samuel have and doesn't want to disrupt that. I'm an only child, he's one of four. I had a very happy childhood and was never lonely thanks to me having a neighbour who was also an only child. I never suffered being an only child. That was until my parents got ill. First my mother when I was 18 and then my dad 4 years ago. I had no family around and was therefore terribly lonely, having to deal with terrible illnesses on my own. Luckily both my parents made it but it made me realise that i had no one to support me in a way only a sibling would. My parents are also divorced and I find that quite difficult to deal with on my own. I'm lonely now whearas I never was growing up. Death, illnesses and divorce are so hard to deal with when you're on your own (I've never had grand parents,my extended family has always lived on different continents to us), with no one but your husband to support you. i don't want that for samuel. We live abroad so none of our families are close by. We are in a unique situation having no family close by and we don't know how long that will last. I'd like samuel to experience the close bonds some siblings have and i feel like i'd regret my decision to stick with one should we decide to do so. Having an only child is a very personal decision and it should be respected. My mother in law once told me that no family is complete until you have multiple children. Not only is this a ridiculous comment but I felt quite insulted as an only child!

  19. Bryan and Sarah August 8, 2012 at 3:51 am #

    Thank you for this! I too am planning on my daughter being my only. It is so wonderful to find others who agree!

  20. kate reymann August 8, 2012 at 8:30 pm #

    Wowzers. I've never gotten so much feedback on a post and this has been so great. Thank you all again for all of your comments. It is nice to know we aren't alone in the One Kid decision!

  21. Anonymous August 9, 2012 at 12:30 am #

    Thanks so much for your posting and the discussion it has sparked. I have a two year old daughter and am similarly debating whether to have another. I never thought before I had her that I would be "one and done." Now, seeing how challenging it can be to raise a child — we're working parents, don't live near family, live in a very expensive city — I have so many doubts. Most surprisingly, I don't feel the same biological need, if you will, to have a child as I did when I had my daughter. In other words, even if our circumstances changed, I might still hesitate to have another, for many of the reasons you mentioned in your post. The thought of having a baby when my daughter is of the age when she can travel, explore, etc. seems daunting. I know plenty of parents manage just fine, but I've also seen many examples of parents being "homebound" because they can't coordinate their kids (especially since I expect there to be at least a 4 year age difference between my kids). But then the guilt sets in that my daughter will be all alone one day and I feel obligated to give her a sibling. Boy, I'm so indecisive…

  22. Joanne August 10, 2012 at 2:17 am #

    Finally found someone that I can relate to.. Me too have a 4 year old boy.. and he is going to be our only child. What you written is pretty much what my husband wants for our life..

  23. LJ August 22, 2012 at 12:57 pm #

    Thank you for this incredibly honest post. Having had an amazing bond with my own brother I dreamt this would be the same with my own children. Having my 2nd daughter turned out to be the hardest thing I have ever done. My first daughter hated her sister from the moment she arrived, we took care to include her in everything, give her special attention on her own etc, all the things you are supposed to do for a smooth transition. 4 years down the line my eldest tolerates her sister but still regularly wishes to be an only child. Daughter number 2 is such a big hearted girl who adores her big sister despite constant bullying (that drives me insane!!). I guess what I'm saying is don't feel selfish having just one child…you don't know how it would turn out either way!!

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