In college, I was required by one of my courses to watch China’s Only Child. I had no idea China had real rules against having more than one child! The documentary went on to describe the “pro’s and con’s” of having a girl or a boy as your only child. I felt bad for all the women in that predicament.
I now find myself in that category.
I know I will have more children but for now, I have one. More often than not, when my child is spoken of she is referred to as “only”. Friends say it. Family says it. Heck even I say it but I didn’t realize until today that that one term “only” belittles my mothering journey and impairs my view of my motherhood.
Before, when I was solely Bonus mom, I longed for the day I could be a “real” mother. When I could be in charge of the care of the upbringing of a child. I was closest to being a “real” mother for Anthony but a necessary evil for Bella and Scott. So, when the day came that I was making big girl decisions for my daughter, I felt validated. That validation lasted until she was around two and questions of if baby number two was in production were frequently asked. It felt like people were saying, “You are not a real mother unless you have more than one child”. It feels as if I, married SAHM of one, compared to a married woman with two or more children and a single mother of one child come out as inefficient. The latter women held as heroines whereas I am somehow lax in my abilities because I have (seemingly) ample time and energy and only one child to worry about.
It seems as though people think my mothering of a singleton is easy. It seems as though the masses think I could be, should be doing a better job at it than I am because I only have one child. There are plenty of examples of this. I show up to church late with my one child in tow (who had to skip breakfast in hopes of making it on time. Fail!) and Mommy of many was on time with well fed children. I get to co-op on time with my one child and practically every other family is late and the tone is very understanding because they have at least three children per household.
I am tired of hearing about the tales and woes of family with two or more children. No. Let me rephrase that. I don’t tire of hearing family stories but I do tire of hearing stories that are heavily emphasized with, “Well, I have ‘x’ number of children and (insert newest hardship here)”. I don’t want to hear all of that. Those stories are heavily laced with “you have it so easy” undertones and “the trials of your motherhood journey are nothing compared to mine” overlay that I feel disqualified by the time you finish telling me a happy tale.
I don’t have time for that.
Note to self: When(ever) our family expands and we are on the other side of this fence with more than two children experiencing the fun-loving yet utterly chaotic roller coaster ride of parenting more than one child, NEVER EVER use words, phrases, or impressionistic statements that would cause her to feel disqualified for having one child. Let her into the FULL FLEDGED ranks of motherhood at the babies first breath. DO NOT keep her waiting in the lobby of the motherhood clubhouse until she is pregnant with her second child. DO explain the levels of motherhood that she has been exposed to and DO tell her that you are the member that they can’t kick out who tells all the secrets of the society. DO tell her that she can trust you to be straight forward with the veiled insults and innuendos she hears. DO tell her that you will help her navigate it all as best you can. DO tell her that she is as much a mother as Susanna Wesley and Michelle Duggar with her “only” child.