As I play my 10th game of Toy Story Uno, my mind is racing. In addition to being my daughter’s playmate, I’ve got a million other things to get done before the end of the day. But how do I explain this to my only lonely little girl?
This was not the plan. I knew all too well what it was like to be an only child. To play both hands in a card game. To play both sides of a board game. To tie one end of a rope to a tree to play jump rope. To only have the TV to keep me company. My mom was a single parent. She did her best, but she had to work. And when she wasn’t working, she was cleaning, cooking and doing everything else it takes to manage a single household. And by the end of the day, she was (understandably) tired. I did end up with a brother when she married 13 years later and a sister when my dad married 14 years later. But by then, they were more like living dolls rather than playmates.
After my childhood experience, I vowed to have at least two children. It was my plan to get pregnant when my daughter turned one. That year flew by and I was just not ready. In my mind, 40 was my cut off for getting pregnant, so I had plenty of time. When I thought I was finally ready to start trying, my husband took a job that took us over 400 miles way from our family and friends. So here I am with a 6 (almost 7) year-old, a month away from 40 (gasp!), and no baby in site.
While I can certainly still get pregnant in my 40’s, the real question is do I want to. Part of me feels like I’ve waited too long. I always thought that people who had kids with more than 5 years in between were crazy. That’s right around the time they start to become more independent, have a full day of school, can get themselves dressed, make their own cereal (not my diva, she requires a hot breakfast every morning, but you get my point). Not to mention the end of the exorbitant expense of daycare. What sane person wants to start over? After years of walking around in a sleep deprived haze, I am finally getting a decent night’s sleep. I know this sounds selfish, but am I ready to deal with 2am feedings, teething, ear infections and everything else that comes with a baby?
Still, I can’t say I’m ready to completely let go of the idea of having one more. I have a storage space full of her baby things that I can’t seem to part with just yet. The smell of baby still takes me to heaven. And those lil’ feet! I just melt at the sight of them! Does that yearning feeling that a mother gets when she sees another baby ever go away?
Okay, so I bite the bullet and have another baby. By the time the baby is able to really “play” with Journey, she’ll be about 10. Just about ready to put away her dolls and most of her toys. Just about ready to have a fit every time the baby gets into her things. Just about ready to hit those teen years and be so over having a little sibling. Then I’ll end up being a playmate to this baby too!
On the other hand, the neurotic mother in me fasts forward 40 years. My daughter now lives out-of-state and my husband and I are driving her crazy. He still insists on driving, won’t take his medicine, and now that I’ve shrunk to 4’ 10”, he can’t hear a word I say but won’t get a hearing aid (he’s 6’3” by the way). Oh, and me? I constantly fuss at the healthcare worker that she has arranged to come over 3 times a week to help us out because I don’t need anyone cleaning my house and telling me what to do. Half the time I kick her out or she leaves. Clearly, we are a handful. At least if she has a sibling, all of the responsibility to take care us won’t fall squarely on my daughter’s shoulders.
I’ve read countless articles about the pros and cons of being an only child. Still, the information can be conflicting. I don’t think that having siblings guarantees a close bond with them, no more than being an only child guarantees a life of loneliness. In the end, how she turns out may have more to do with how she is raised, how she values friendships and her other life experiences.
As for me, I’m still not sure what the future holds. But for now, I guess I’ll go play another hand of Uno.
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