You know when you read a quote in a newspaper or magazine, and think “That could have come straight from my mouth”? Well, I felt exactly that way this week when I peeked at an interview with actress and producer Drew Barrymore.
She features as the cover star on the September issue of In Style magazine and declares her intentions to have more children, siblings for her daughter Olive who was born last September.
“I was an only child, and it was lonely,” she says in the article that accompanies her 7th cover shoot for the magazine. “Some people love it and thrive on the independence, but I want my kids to have other kids around. Maybe two kids so they can run around life together, roll their eyes at their parents together like Rusty and Audrey Griswold from [National Lampoon’s] Vacation. So however that’s going to come about, it’s gonna happen!”
Like Drew, I’m an Only and I was determined that no matter what, history would NOT repeat itself — that if I was lucky enough to have kids, there would be more than one. After my son was born, I started to think about baby #2 and broached the idea with my husband. To my horror, he wasn’t initially that keen. “Are we having another kid just because of your issues with your childhood?” he asked. “Is that a good enough reason to have another child?”
I wanted to scream “YES! Of course it is.” But maybe he had a point. Was I being selfish?
I should add that I come from a broken family. My parents divorced when I was 3. In fact, I never lived with them together as they split up whilst my Mom was pregnant with me. As they got back together and broke up (several times before I even reached double figures), I dreamt about having a sibling to share all this with. Every letter to Father Christmas featured “I would love a sibling” at the top of the list. I just wanted someone to understand what I was going through and to tell me things would be okay.
So why do folks have more than one child? After all, you only need one kid to experience parenthood. A quick poll of my friends suggested a variety of reasons: “I want my kids to experience a big family, especially at Christmas”; “Two can play together and keep each other company”; “I want my kid to have someone else from their era to grow with and have around when we die”; and finally, “Family members told me it was selfish of me to have a only child — to put my child and his need for a sibling before my own happiness.”
But does having more than one child actually put more stress on our marriage/partnerships?
According to Robin Simon of Wake Forest University, it sure does. She surveyed well-being data from 13,000 respondents, and in a 2005 issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, published her findings that adults with children experience depression and unhappiness in greater numbers than non-parents. However, a quick Google search shows that for every study that states that parenthood and marital satisfaction decrease with each child born, there is one stating that people are happier after the birth of their second child.
At the end of the day, it is simply a personal choice. I can’t really explain why I was so intent on having two children, just as I can’t explain why I would be horrified to get pregnant again, as I know I simply couldn’t cope with 3 children. What works for one person would be a nightmare for another. Sometimes circumstance is the reason: marriages break up before parents have another child (as my parents did), or parents cannot afford the cost of another baby.
More and more I see friends who are having only one child, and yet they have to defend this choice to everyone. Even strangers will comment on the fact they should really have more. So whilst I wish Drew all the best with her growing brood, I thought I’d celebrate parents who chose to have an Only. Whilst it wasn’t what I wanted for my own childhood, I wouldn’t be the person I am today if I had had siblings.
Check out the slideshow below of famous stars and their own children. Their Onlys look pretty happy, don’tcha think?
All photos credited to Pacific Coast News, except where indicated.