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02/01/2010

The Only Not Lonely

Lil standing"Are you going to have more?"

I hear it from family, neighbors, and well meaning relatives who want more babies to hold.  I get it from the grocery store clerk, the dental hygienist, and story time acquaintances at the library.

The questioning started when my daughter was around one year old.  They waned a bit when she was a raging tantruming two and a half year old.  Now the intrusion is starting again as my daughter looks to be about kindergarten age.

I respond, "no".  Sometimes I joke with the truth, "nah, my husband is fixed."

The deeper truth, that I have an only child by choice, is not shared very often.  Most people do not understand making that choice, but more importantly, they do not need that information. 

What if I was struggling with infertility?  What if I could not afford another child?  What if my husband had left me and I did not want to parent more children alone?  For any of these reasons, and many more, asking a parent of a single child when the next one was coming could reopen wounds already blistering on the surface.

It hurts even me.  It feels invasive to ask me about the deeply personal choice of family size.  Does a questioning cashier really want to hear how the first year of my daughter's life was a personal hell?  How I felt like a walking zombie most of the time and I never want to experience that again?  Does the pharmacist want to explore my guilt that conception and pregnancy were simple for me when so many

struggle?

With closer friends or family, I do sometimes carefully tiptoe around the more rational reason for having an only child: I like my small family. I like that having only one child allows me the time to feed our family home-made local food nearly all the time.  Our small family fits in a small house and a small car, reducing our environmental impact and pocketbook strain.  I know other bigger families who achieve the same goals with more kids.  This is just how I choose to do it.

To end the cycle, I never ask about family size to a stranger in public.  I am teaching my daughter to show the same restraint.  Personal questions are acceptable in certain situations, but even an innocent one can stir up big feelings.

This is an original Ohio Moms Blog post.

Rachel writes about her tiny family and their tiny garden at Hounds in the Kitchen.

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