Last Friday I did a guest post on my thoughts about being an only child and my decision not to have a sibling for Ale on Chasing After a Daredevil and Twins. I wanted to repost this as this is something I have been thinking a lot about lately. I have also included links to two articles published in July of this year. One from the New Yorker the other from The Week.
Ale is quickly approaching two. As for me, lets just say I’m closer to 40 than 30. The big question on everybody’s mind (friends, family, strangers, mom’s at the playground) is “So, When are you going to give Ale a sibling?’ Or the comment is, “You should now try for a girl”. My response is always a smile and a nod yes while I try to change the subject.
Who knows what will happen in the next few years but I’m happy right now where my family is at the moment. Is that so bad? Am I selfish for not jumping to get pregnant again? Does this make me a bad mom? Will I harm Ale emotionally if I don’t provide him with a sibling?
“Only child” is such a heavy title and it carries so much negativity. Do mother’s of more than one child love one more than the other? If they were to loose one child is there a sigh of relief that there is another child there? Should I have another child just so that Ale has someone else to play with? It seems that the idea of having more children is to round out the numbers in the household. Its just something that should be done- no questions asked.
Let me confess- I am an only child. I am happy and well adjusted. I am not lonely. I would not go back and change a thing. And no- I was not a spoiled brat. I was quite the opposite. So why would this not happen to Ale?
To be honest when I was around 10 years old I did pine for a brother or sister. I pined for one like a child pines for a new toy. Growing up I learned that everyone’s family is different and family can be made up of many different kinds of people. Some people had more while others had less people around their dinner tables. That did not make one family better than another. My family consisted of myself, my mom and my dad. My dad said we were the trinity. I thought we were the perfect family.
My goal now is to replicate that feeling for Ale. I am trying to teach him the importance of friendship and how to to tighten the bonds with our extended family. All the while I hope that I am constructing a safe and nurturing home with my husband. This is what is important to me regardless of how small or big our family may become.
Onliness- Alexandra Schwartz New Yorker July 18, 2013
The Case For Having An Only Child- Jenine Holmes, LearnVest | July 31, 2013
There are many reasons to complain about my job – that would require another entire blog post- but the one thing I can not say is that they are not flexible. Since I came back from maternity leave I have been granted to have Tuesdays free. Tuesdays have become my guaranteed day with Ale.
On Tuesday mornings we usually meet up with my friend and her daughter. We go to a music class for babies where they hear a story then they dance. It essentially turns into a baby disco.
On Monday I worked. I had a horrible day and came home close to 11pm. So this Tuesday I was exhausted. Plus the cold that I have been fighting all winter/spring (thanks to the daycare : AKA breeding ground for nasty germs) was back. I called my friend and told her we would skip the music class.
I was happy to skip it but then the fright came in. It’s 7:30am! What am I going to do all day with the little guy!? It’s RAINING outside!!!! Ok, it was just drizzling but that meant going to the park was out, plus I was not feeling well myself.
Ale and I are best buds so we just hung out and kept it low key. We watched a little Caillou. We had a dance party. Nap time came around, I read some blogs. At lunch time I even convinced the sweet little man to eat sardines!
When the drizzling stopped, we headed to the supermarket. On the way Ale marveled over each bus- especially the school buses-, truck or dog that went by. At the supermarket he saw the biggest pile of bananas ever and demanded a “nana” at the check out. He even helped me bag the items. On the way home I let him walk the block up to our apartment. Yes it took 15 min and yes I had to chase after him twice- no, five times- but he had so much fun. He laughed his full belly laugh. It was worth it.
Then for dinner I made pasta with a tomato zucchini sauce. The little man sat on the counter while I cooked and dipped his fingers in the can of crushed tomatoes. He loved the pasta.
Maybe it was one of his best days ever with mama. He’s in the no! no! no! phase so he would deny it. However, for me, it was certainly one of my best days with him.
When I did not have a child it was so easy to say– “When I am a mom my child is not going to do this or that!” One of the things I often commented on as my wish list as a new mother is that my son would not watch TV until he was over two years old. The other was that we wanted to expose him to books early on with night time reading. Now that I am a mom I know the reality of things. In fact just about every thing I said I was not going to do– I did.
I am the first to blame. I am absolutely addicted to my iPhone, and iPad and my Kindle. These items are always around me. The first imitation behavior Ale did was to walk around with any object- shoes, spoons, you name it and have a mock phone conversation. I swear there is fairy dust in the Apple products as Ale has always been drawn to them. He knows how to unlock my phone, play music and get to his favorite app. Ale is 16 months!!
My husband is the TV watcher of the house. Granted its mostly news and sports- when he is home the TV is on. So Ale’s next favorite imitation was to grab the remote, point it to the TV and try to change the channels.
Then my husband and I are guilty of finding TV programs for Ale. We discovered he loved the Bob the Builder books. Then one day we were looking at the TV program line up and saw Bob the Builder on demand. The new parents that we are were delighted to see this as a TV show. We turned it on and my guy went nuts. Now he points to the the TV through out the day and says BOB! BOB! — His words in his 16 month old vocab are, Mama, Papa, Yeah! and BOB!
With all this technology around my little guy how can I say no and really mean it? I’m trying my best to set limits. I am trying to push him more towards the Bob books, and other great children’s books. Unfortunately, the flashy Goodnight Safari app is way more exciting.
Growing up in the 80’s I only had paper books, the TV was limited to about 10 channels and the phone was only in the kitchen. Ale’s world is so much different. Am I being old fashioned? Does it really matter that Ale does not read many paper books? I don’t even read paper books now!! Will all the bright moving colors and sounds make him have ADHD? I can hear my grandmother “Don’t sit so close to the TV!”.
My gut is telling me to go with the flow as I’ve been doing and try to find the middle ground. But there is always that shadow of doubt in the back of my head. I guess that is what it means to be a parent.