Saturday, June 29, 2013

An Only-Child Mama

I see you watching us at the park. You are wondering if he's my only child or if I have older children in school somewhere or perhaps a baby that's home napping with a grandparent. I don't. He's it. And it's ok. 

I hear you on the playground at church, "Is he your only one?" and I know you don't say it with any kind of judgment, but in a culture where baby-making seems to be everyone's Saturday night hobby, it feels like it. Like having only one kid is somehow an affront to American Christianity. And maybe it is. But I'm pretty sure it isn't to God.

I feel you wondering what I do with all the extra time I must have with only one kid. Oh, you mean that time outside of my job, parenting a six-year old, assisting with Sunday school, leading worship, coaching 17 6-year-olds in soccer, volunteering in kindergarten, driving carpool, studying for my psychology class, taking adoption trainings to keep our home study updated, being a wife to a husband writing a dissertation, executing a move to Wisconsin and figuring out how to plan a family menu when I'm sugar-free and gluten-free. Right. Oh, well I guess I just sit around and gaze at my navel all day long.

I don't write that to sound snarky. I actually write it to say that my life is pretty full. I didn't choose to have an only child. Some people do and that's great. Some people, like us, have it thrust upon them due to circumstances beyond their control like disease or loss or infertility.

But here's the deal. Each day that goes by without another child in our house is another day I get to treasure with my little man. It's another day I can be involved in his life with less distraction than I would if I had a newborn in my arms. That's not to insult parents with lots of kids, it's just reality. I wish I were you. But I'm not. So I'm finding my own ways to savor the different path our life has taken from just about everyone around us. It's hard to find other moms of only-kids, at least in America. I suspect I would not feel as alone in this in a place like Europe. But, until my husband gets an amazing job at Oxford or something, America it is.

So I will continue to plan long car trips to fun places knowing that I only have to worry about one kid who is actually a pretty darn good traveler. I'll continue to structure my day without worrying about naps and sign him up for whatever I want to sign him up for because I'm not trying to juggle 3 or 4 kids' schedules. I'll continue to enjoy multiple hours in every day where we get to talk and giggle and read and build legos without someone else needing me, other than our ridiculous dog who seems to think he is, indeed, a human child. I'll soak in our bedtime ritual, where all four of us cram into Josh's little twin bed to read and pray and cuddle and talk about our day together. I'll take it one day at a time and revel in the uninterrupted time I have with my first born.

Some day, I hope in my heart, that this time when we are just three will be a memory, albeit a sweet one. I will have spent much of our time together wishing for more children and my son will know about some of that. He wants siblings just as much as I want him to have them and we talk honestly in our family about the waiting. It's alright for him to see his parents desiring for our family to grow and for him to express his frustrations with the process. But I never want him to believe that we had to grow because he was not enough. The grand truth is that no one person, nothing in this world is really enough for us except God. But in the smaller scheme of earthly happiness, the son I have been given is enough. I am so grateful for my little man and if it were ever time to give up fighting for another baby, we would do it. We would move on in thankfulness for the gift we've been given in him. We would still be a complete family even if we looked out of place in church. We would not be lacking.

So, this only-child mama is going to grin right back at you on the playground. I'm going to be as nice as possible when you ask me intrusive questions about my family, but I may be more honest with you than you are expecting. Maybe you'll know in the future that not every family needs to look a certain way and that having an "only" is not necessarily a bad thing. I am going to look you straight in the eye and tell you that I'm happy, that I love my son, that I don't know if there are more children coming but that no matter what, we are a family with a life that's full and chaotic and joyful, just maybe in different ways from yours. 

I am an only-child mama and it is good.    


  1. This post resonates with me so much (I feel like I say that in every comment LOL). Due to our infertility, my son is very likely to be an only child too. Maybe not, but more than likely, he will be. I didn't want only one child (I'm an only myself), but as the years go by, I'm becoming more at peace with it. I love my son and our little family. If you're interested, here's another blogger's thoughts on having an only:

  2. Found you through KeAnne; mine is the blog she references below. LOVE this post. Thank you for sharing.


  3. Thanks for your kind words, ladies. Karen, I loved your post. It gave me some things to think about that I hadn't thought through and I look forward to reading through those studies. We, too, did not choose this and I still hope our adoption comes through but it's comforting to know there are other women out there who are thinking through how to respond helpfully when people ask us these kinds of questions!