I’ve already written most of the “why James and I decided that Zoe was going to be an only child before she was even born” post about three times. Then I saved it and forgot about it and went back to it and re-read it and decided it wasn’t good enough about three times, too. And, since this is the fourth post I’m writing on the same topic, this makes it the third time that I’ve started over, too.
The thing about this post is that it’s all wrapped up in a decision we made for a ton of different reasons. And unlike some other decisions I’ve made in my life, this particular one didn’t have two or three BIG reasons accompanied by a ton of little reasons – this one just had a seemingly endless supply of little reasons, and every single one of them can be argued with.
Firstly, and probably ultimately most importantly, my husband and I are, despite appearances, introverts. We were concerned that we would end up with several very social children, and since we are the types who are easily tired out by extroverts (especially extroverts in large quantities) we figured that it would be better for our family dynamic if we had either 3 introverts or 2 introverts and 1 extrovert. This way all of us will be able to have some time to ourselves, James and I will be able to spell each other off if and as needed, and Zoe will always be guaranteed to have her own room. Er, that is, as soon as she actually HAS a room.
Secondly? I’m honest enough to know that I could not do this type of sleep deprivation and 24hour care again with a toddler around. I would not be a good mom to Zoe, I would not be a good mom to a second baby, and I certainly wouldn’t be a good wife to my wonderful husband if such a situation ever arose. I have always been someone that needs my sleep and, honestly, I have very few healthy coping mechanisms (though I’m working on that) and I think it will be healthier mentally for all of us if we just stop at one.
Furthermore, James and I are slightly idealist when it comes to family structure, and we know from experience that the more people there are in a family, the less of a chance there is for everyone to be happy simultaneously. This applies, in my opinion, to matters of taste, discipline, personality and behaviour. We knew that if we had more than one we would want to make everything perfectly fair for everyone, but that is rarely the way life works. In my experience, you cannot treat any two children exactly equal all the time – or, at least, you can’t convince THEM that everything is always equal all the time – and the same disciplines, calming techniques and even teaching techniques will often not work. For us? This is a big issue. I think it basically boils down to the fact that we don’t ever want our child to feel that she is being slighted or treated unfairly – life is unfair enough, why should it have to start with your parents who are the two people who are supposed to love you most in the entire world?
We also figure that by only having one child we will be in a better position financially in a number of ways. For example, we’ll be able to go on family holidays more often and (hopefully) to more interesting places, we’ll be able to put her in dance or swim or whatever classes, we’ll be able to allow her to have her own space because I sincerely doubt there will be a time in our lives (besides now, I mean) when we won’t be able to at least afford a two bedroom apartment, and when we go to a school play or parent-teacher interview night, we won’t all need to split up (one parent in one direction with one child and the other parent in the other direction with another child) which will, hopefully, give our wee one a sense of security and family cohesiveness and James and I both feel we somewhat lacked as children (even though he was an only child, but that’s a separate issue all together). The point is that we feel we will be able provide a better familly structure for one child than for two or more.
Financial issues were another huge point in our decision. Neither of us has any useable post-secondary education and it’s doubtful that we will ever get any, partly because neither of us has much inclination, but mainly because we are just both too practical to bother going thousands into debt in order to get a career that we may not like in five or ten years. We had a tiny wedding for the same reason. We realize that we are, theoretically, limiting our financial potential by doing this, and that is another of the reasons we don’t think we should have two chlidren. We didn’t get a lot of help financially, and we’d love to be able to do that for our daughter if she does want to pursue post secondary, or have a big wedding. And, if there is ever a situation in our lives where an emergency arises, we will know that we can deal with it without having to worry about whether or not we’ll be able to eat that week as well.
Basically, we want to give our little girl the best type of life we can. We want her to be well-rounded, and we want our family to be well-rounded, and we want her to have experiences that we never had, and we think we have a better chance of providing this type of life if we only have one baby.
Neither of us think that people who have two or even twenty children are crazy and we certainly don’t think that children with siblings will not have “as good of a life” as single children, we just think that for our family, one child was going to be the best for everyone.
Obviously this is just a little overview of the things we considered, but probably the main things that ultimately tipped the scale.