I am finally at peace with Alan and my decision to keep Bridgette as an only child. For the past 4 years, the question on whether or not to have a second child has circulated our household constantly. I’ve wavered back and forth, so many times that even Alan nearly ran out of patience with me. We weighed the pros and cons numerous times. I read more books and online articles on the subject than I care to admit. In other words, we thought through this decision prudently and seriously.
Bridgette would probably make a great older sister, we have no doubt about that. She is caring and nurturing to little ones in that way, and she loves playing with babies. But, life for her and for us would be very different with a sibling. It mainly has to do with Alan and my personalities, and our goals in life for us and for our family. Some people may judge this as selfishness, but Alan and I really want to enjoy our lives. Not when we are 70 years old and retired, but pretty much every day that we’re lucky enough to live. We really believe in ‘working hard and playing hard’. We love to travel, try new adventures, and live life to its fullest. We want that for Bridgette too. We want her to obtain a good education, but we also find that it is equally important for her to experience an enriching life outside of school. By having a second child, we know we are limiting our time, energy, and emotional capacity, not to mention financial resources.
Okay, besides our desire to live a well-balanced, enriching life, we admit we just don’t have it in us to parent more than one child. For one, I know I wouldn’t be able to keep my sanity for long. Parenthood is demanding! I have no idea how people do it with two or more kids. We often host Brianne and other children at our house for an extended period of time (without their parents) because we genuinely love being around kids. And, while we enjoy every minute of their presence, we also get so scattered and preoccupied with their needs that we forget our own basic needs, like brushing our teeth. Yes, after cooking, cleaning, playing, reading, and bathing 2 or more kids (and occasionally playing referee to their fights), I am so tired by their bedtime that I often fall asleep next to them without even taking a shower. And that’s on a good day, without any kind of big meltdown or sickness! Forget having ‘me’ time, or ‘us’ time, or having time, period. How do people raise multiple kids and still have the capacity to parent them? And to have a career, a social life, a healthy marriage??! That is beyond me. For now, Alan and I are perfectly content to experience a household full of children for only short periods of time, and then be able to return those children to their wonderful parents! 🙂
We know all about the stereotypical concerns of raising an only child; we get it. But we also believe that birth order shapes a person’s personality just as much, and being an only child shares a lot of the same traits as one would find in an elder child, a middle child or a youngest child in the family. In other words, while an only child may be known to be more selfish and lonely, they are also more independent and confident. There are pros and cons to everything in life, and quite frankly, I still believe that a parent’s unconditional love to a child is more empowering than anything else. We also want Bridgette to know that even though she is the apple of our eyes, our marriage is also very important, and we are not willing to put that on the back burner until she is 18 years old and out of the house. Alan and I need time for ‘us’, just as much as we cherish time with her.
So, Brianne really is going to be the closest person to a sibling that Bridgette will ever have, and we feel blessed about that. The girls love each other to pieces, and while they still have a minimal case of sibling rivalry from time to time, they also share a special bond and connection that one wouldn’t find in a sibling or a friend. Cousins are precious. They are a combination of family and friend, and we are so happy that Bridgette has found a ‘sister’ and a ‘friend’ in Brianne.
Before I end this post, I need to note that I’m not anti-sibling at all. I have a sister whom I’m extremely close with, and I can’t imagine what my life would be like without her. It also warms my heart when I witness siblings playing closely together. Siblings are a blessing, there’s no doubt about it. But, we need to stay true to who we are, and we hope that when Bridgette is older, she will understand why we made the decision to keep her as an only child…