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The Impact of an Only Child on Motherhood

The Impact of an Only Child on MotherhoodThere are many days where I feel like I’ve missed out on full motherhood.

The days when my friends have no down time, laundry galore, dirt and mud tracked on the kitchen floor, never-ending meals, nighttime wake-ups, and a desperation for naps — those are the days I keenly feel an absence.

My house is clean. The laundry is usually done in a day. Bella takes naps and sleeps through the night. We have no diapers, no bottles, no rooms filled with the baby’s toys and hers mixed together.

All of that sits in a little box in the garage. Once again unused and untouched.

They’re hauling carseats and laughing about their 3rd cup of coffee in an hour because the baby was up all night — and I’m knitting on the couch while Bella plays at my side.

If this was by choice, it might be different. This scenario might even have sounded snarky or bragging to some. But when the cause is those other littles being taken away by death and loss — then it’s a very hard thing.

After I lost my twins, I mentioned something on Facebook about getting Bella in and out of the carseat for errands. It’s a pain, and she was 2 years old at the time, so the carseat was a never-ending chore. One of my readers quipped back, “You only have one, so imagine my frustration — I have 3 to do that with!”

I had imagined three. I was supposed to have three. It wasn’t anyone’s fault that I couldn’t compare with her level of tough motherhood, but it stung.

And now it continues — because only about 20% of all families consist of one child — it’s rare to bump into another. I hear the constant, “It never ends,” and I don’t begrudge ANYONE that because heaven knows motherhood is a never-ending job, with one child or 20 kids. Yet, I feel like I’m the only one who sees it from my side. My personal motherhood contains difficult days too — but I can’t complain or be exasperated (even in my own mind) about these things because I have one child. One very capable child who becomes more independent by the day.

Twice my life was supposed to contain more children, and yes that would have been difficult, but it would have been beautiful — and twice it’s been ripped away from me. I’m left with “ugly hard,” the kind that makes other mothers hold their babies tighter and look at me with sad eyes.

So while my friends struggle with another round of diapers and all-nighters, I struggle with missed due dates and death dates, anniversaries that I never wanted to mark on a calendar. I feel cheated out of full motherhood in so many ways, and so much of it is tied up in my own doing. I took quite a bit of Bella’s first few years for granted since I figured we’d have more. A second, third, maybe fourth chance. We’d do it right next time. I didn’t have to slow down and wonder in amazement at her, because I was gearing up for the next baby.

Yes, I’m beyond thankful to have my daughter. Yes, I’m incredibly blessed to be a mama at all, especially after all our loss. Yes, I love the life I have with her.

But inside? Inside my heart aches for the full struggle and exhaustion of motherhood. The kind I’ve prepared for twice. The kind I dreamed of as a little girl.

The beautifully hard kind that comes from all of your children living.

Diana blogs at Diana Wrote about her life with a daughter here and three sons in heaven, life as an army wife, and her faith. You can also find her work on Liberating Working MomsShe Reads TruthStill Standing MagazineThe New York Times, and The Huffington Post, with smaller glimpses into her day on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

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