My daughter is almost 5 and a half years old, and since she was about three months old, people have been asking us one thing.
“When are you having another?”
At first, I’d answer with a “we’ll see,” because at the time, we were undecided, not financially stable, and just learning how to be parents. Over time we decided that one is good for us. However, when I would answer that there would be no siblings, or that Sofia would be our only, you would think I told people the sky was orange.
“But she’ll be so spoiled!” or my favorite, “Poor baby, she’s going to be so lonely!”
I have grown pretty accustomed to these remarks, sometimes answering with a quick remark, other times just shrugging and walking away. But this past week, I read a post on a parenting website that made my head spin.
Andrew Kardon, a blogger over at The Stir, said, “Parents who chose to only have one child are just being selfish.” Just straight to the point aren’t ya Andy? He goes on to say that “Let me quickly put up a short disclaimer before everyone jumps down my throat. I understand some people are unable to have more than one kid due to medical or even financial circumstances. I’m not talking about them. I’m talking about the couple who choose to have one kid and then decide it’s a lot of work and they like having their freedom, so they stop at one.”
I wholeheartedly disagree. First off, the way he just dismissed it as “they just don’t want to work.” First off, IT IS A VERY HARD JOB to raise a child. In today’s economy, even in a two-income-earning household, the financial strain of having a child is huge just to fulfill a child’s basic needs. Let’s not get into all the extras that start piling on as they grow older. Plus birthdays, holidays, parties, blah blah…bye bye moolah.
Second, and just as equally important, is time. Having the time to actually devote to being a present parent, not just a provider. Carving out time for just yourself is hard enough, but when you have a family, you want to be there for everything. If you are a working parent, it’s a hard balancing act between work, play, kids, career, and also spending time with your partner. Everything worth anything in life needs time. For me, I like being able to be fully present for my daughter (and even that is hard sometimes; work at home parents, y’all know what I’m saying). I know I wouldn’t be able to do half the things I do with my daughter if I had more children, and I wouldn’t want to do that to any of my children. There are some parents that do this well, and I high five them. But that is not me. I don’t think that makes me selfish; I think it makes me smart. I know my limits, I know what I can do and what I can handle and I shouldn’t be called selfish for wanting to be the best parent I can be to my child.
Whether it be one child or 20, this parenting business is no joke and not everyone can handle what comes in the job description. I believe recognizing that you only have the strength to raise one child, and raise that child to the best of your ability is actually something to be admired. As parents, we should support each other, not tear each other down for our decisions on what works for our own families.