I often get asked about our daughter and her “only child” status. I imagine there are many of you reading this that have had the same experience. I know many friends that are with me, sitting in this pew of life, with an only child despite wanting more.
My story is not unlike so many in this era of life. I was 39 when Ellie was born, a geriatric mother. We joke, but it’s the new reality. My age was not my choice, it was how it happened. I so often have been asked why we waited, and then told not to worry as we are still young. And don’t get me wrong, I completely agree. Your forties are still youth in a time when most people live well into their eighties or early nineties. But here I am, forty-two with a three year old. Not my ideal or my dream. But it’s my reality.
I don’t mean for this post to be a sad one. On the contrary, I truly am content with my weeMcFee. She is everything and more I could have ever hoped for in a child. She is also a handful, willful and full of her father & I – in both good and not so positive ways. She is all we can handle at this stage of life, and therefore, I can be content that no others will join her.
Yet, I feel a horrible guilt. A societal guilt. A guilt that I knew all too well growing up as an only child. Being told I had more privileges than others because I didn’t have to share. That I was spoiled, which I was, but meant to denigrate me and to imply that I was not kind.
So I made up for it. I tried hard to be more. I was outgoing, I was giving, I was always willing to share. I overdid it often and people took advantage of my generosity. But I never let it stop me. I made the world my home and its inhabitants my family, and to this day, I don’t think I have stopped that mentality.
But now, here I am, with an only child. Already getting asked “why only one” and “will you have more”, or even worse “it’s not too late”. I know it’s not meant the way I take it, it’s not meant to hurt or to sound judgmental. So often I know that people with more than one hope to pass that happiness along. But it doesn’t change how it feels.
How I know that I cannot have more children. And how, now at our age, it wouldn’t be a wise decision. That adoption isn’t an option for the stress it would cause. That with my depression and anxiety, I like to think the universe made a decision for me of what was best. To grant me only one!
So my ask, as I usually have one, is to think about that.
In my coaching around making connections my first advice in meeting people is not to ask what you do or if you have a family (married, children, etc.). I put these items up there with religion and politics, because they can be just as awkward. But to get to know the person. Ask them, why they are at the event. What they did that day. Some place they love in the city you are in. Get creative and get to know them.
Keep in mind that what might seem like a choice to you to have no children, one child or ten, is a person’s choice and should be respected, appreciated and celebrated.
You know the story, no one knows what someone might be hiding behind their smile. Don’t ever forget that. My smile is genuine, my heart is open, but behind it lies a mother who wanted so much more. More than one.
But I wouldn’t trade the ONE I have for anything. She is more than enough.