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May 22, 2008

The Only Child

Kate My husband and I are having The Discussion. The "more children" discussion. As in, should we have more? And more importantly, do we even want a second child? My beautiful Lucy is 9 months old now. She is my Angel, and my world. She has made our lives brighter and more joyful, and every day I love her more. How could I possibly love anyone else? I don't see how I could share my love for her. My mother says that you can, and you do, but still. I look at her playing peacefully -- alone -- and I don't see another.

That doesn't mean I don't think about what it would be like to have another baby. I imagine the first flutters of movement, of holding that child in my arms for the first time, and that first incredible smile. I imagine the joy of watching another life grow and develop into a beautiful little person (with an impossibly high-pitched giggle-squeal).

But not all children are angel babies like Lucy. Some are difficult.

I was a difficult baby, and it nearly killed my mother. I'm not sure I could handle a difficult baby. And there are other things to consider, like finances. Can we afford another mouth to feed? I only work two days a week right now. I spend most of my time with Lucy, and we want it that way.

Can we afford the daycare?
Right now my MIL watches Lucy the days I work; but she certainly can't watch a toddler and an infant. Can we afford to send the little rugrat to college?

I believe you have a responsibility as a parent to help your children pay for college. We are saving for Lucy; if she wants to go to Harvard, we will do our damnedest to make it happen. If she wants to go to Rutgers, she'll get her 4 years and money to burn. If she doesn't want to go to school...then, well, argh!! But that's another post.

Then, there are lifestyle considerations. With one child, we can still travel the way we want. We can go hiking in Hawaii with one child. But not two. We can go to Vegas and leave one child at home with Grammy. But not two. We like traveling and wine tasting and camping and driving aimlessly on back roads. You can do all of that easily with one child. But not two.

There is also the matter of Lucy's genetic condition. There is a 1 in 4 chance our other children would also have Hyper-PHE. The extent of Lucy's condition is still unknown; we don't know where this is going to end up. Neither of us wants to put another child through what Lucy is going through.

And here's the big one. If we were to have another child, well, I don't really want a girl. I have my Lucy. I would want a boy. If I knew for certain we would have a girl, I would say "no" and end it there. Is that selfish? You may think so, but that's just the way I feel. Feelings are not right or wrong; they just are. That's not to say I wouldn't love our second daughter. But I would probably be disappointed.

But not having another baby means Lucy is an Only Child, and wearer of all the stereotypes that go with that moniker. She will be labeled as spoiled, as coddled, selfish and self-absorbed, a Mean Girl totally ready to sabotage the new girl in school. She will be pitied by those with large families, and an outcast in some circles. Think I'm exaggerating? Check this out. A website devoted exclusively to the Only Child. A kind of support group for "Onlies" and their parents. Because yes, we do worry about what will happen to Lucy as she gets older. Will she be lonely? Will she socialize well? And what happens when we die? And then, there is my own guilt. Will my selfishness now hurt her later? Or will my honesty now mean a happier home and a better adult life for her? The short answer is, I don't know. I only want what's best for my child.

But right now I don't know what that is. And so The Discussion continues...

This is an original New Jersey Moms Blog post. Kate B. is a journalist and mother of an Only Child (for now). You can find more of Kate's guilt trips on her personal site, Rockin the Suburbs.


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