A Magic Number

By: Amy Forstadt

I’m officially coming out: Benjie will be an only child. For a while there, around Benjie’s second birthday, there was a window where I was open to having a second kid. But as I got closer and closer to my fortieth birthday, that window closed a little more every day until the big four-oh arrived and it slammed shut with a resounding smack, sending paint chips flying from the windowsill of my uterus. (I never claimed to have perfect metaphors, just go with me here.)

Yes, I hear what you’re saying right now, that two kids are double the love, double the fun, double the joy. And that Benjie will need a sibling when it comes time to buy me Ensure and change my adult diapers. Plus, living with siblings is good for kids – it makes them less spoiled. And teaches them to share. And besides, only children are freaks!
To you I say, calm down. First of all, I’m an only child myself, so you’ve just insulted me. Watch it with the judgments, there, imaginary reader. Second, I realize that I’m making a decision based in a moment in time (now) that I may regret later (deathbed), but it feels right to me. My husband, I think, is not quite as on board with just having one child, but even he agrees that the advantages may outweigh the disadvantages for us.

The fact is, I’m really happy with my life, exactly how it is. Sure, more kids might equal more love, but they also equal more chaos, more yelling, more demands on everyone’s time. Between you guys and me, I really like my quiet house. I also like knowing that there will always only be one baseball game, one birthday party, or one school recital going on, and that my husband and I will both be able to go, every time. I like being so close to Benjie, and knowing that he and I share a special relationship that neither one of us will have with anyone else. I especially like being able to be the kind of mother that I want to be, one who is present, patient, interested and involved. I just don’t think I could do that with two. I think I’d be way more snippy and impatient. I don’t like it when I get that way now, so I can’t imagine being okay with it happening twice as much.

Don’t get me wrong, I love being a mom (and not just a mom, Benjie’s mom), but I’ve got a lot more I want to do than just momming it for the next several years. I know there are plenty of moms out there with two, three, four, eight kids who have thriving careers and lives outside of their families. But, frankly, I don’t think I’m cut out to be one of those women. I don’t have the energy, the organizational skills, the focus, the drive, and have I mentioned the energy? I just can’t imagine being happy that way. I’m not sure if that makes me selfish or self-aware, but that’s my reality and I accept it.

Lately, Benjie has been requesting the same song over and over when we ride in the car, as preschoolers are wont to do. It’s the one from Schoolhouse Rock (you might remember it from your own childhood) called “Three Is A Magic Number.” And the more I listen to it, the more it feels like an anthem for our little family. A man and a woman/had a little baby/Yes they did/They had three in the family/That’s a magic number. Three is for us, the perfect number.
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[Photo Credit: Flickr Image: Scribbletaylor]

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Comments

  1. Madge Woods says

    Do what is right for you. You will be happy and so will your son. It’s not selfish, it is what you know is the right decision for you, Amy. Kudos to knowing your own self.

  2. susan says

    I didn’t know you were an only.
    I love the School House Rock.
    It’s tough when you stick the landing on the first one, to want to jump back on the horse again.
    Benji is already a jackpot.

    Great Blog

  3. Barb says

    Great post! I am a 43-year-old single mother by choice currently very pregnant with my second child, and I always knew I wanted more than one (for all my own reasons), but I love all the ways in which you make having an only child sound so appealing and wonderful. I’m glad I decided to have two, but your post made me see that if I weren’t able to, that would be just as great but for different reasons. Really, really great post.

  4. Amy Wise says

    Amy,

    Tatiana is an only child and we LOVE it!! When we first got married we talked about having 3 kids…then it went to 2…then after we had Tat and got settled into life, we kinda liked it that way! Just the 3 of us. =) Everyone said have more, give her a sibling, and so on. We said we liked it just the way it was and made the decision to be done. Then a few years later Mother Nature made the decision final and I had to have a hysterectomy so then it was a done deal! I remmember the doctor feeling so bad for me when he told me and then when I told him we didn’t want more kids he sighed with relief! Funny! Glad I could make him feel better! Enjoy one and do what you want…nobody else is living your life but you. =)

    Amy
    interracial fams

  5. Evie says

    I don’t have a leg to stand on, here, honey. Your decision is calmly reasoned and clearly the right one for you. Sigh.

  6. Tosha says

    I love this. I wrote about the same thing last year (“my one and only”), but your post reflects a much more self-assured mom than I was when I wrote my piece. We love our little family of 3. I just wish I could slow time a bit. He’s growing fast and I’m afraid of the day I’ll be standing there as he leaves me and I ask, to no one in particular: “what happened?!” But I too just want to be HIS mom, no one else’s. Thanks for the reinforcement, Amy.

  7. Tanya Ward Goodman says

    Gorgeous post. What a lucky, lucky kid! Love that Schoolhouse Rock song, too. I always found it incredibly comforting (though I had a sibling and am a parent of two) We try to give our kids a little of the “magic” by spending a day here and there with only one of them at a time. They love it and we get the chance to just be with them instead of reacting to the big, crazy energy we refer to as “third child” they make when they are together…

  8. CookiePie says

    Thank you for such a great post! I have an 18-month-old and my husband and I are about 93% sure that we’re done. I feel like the only thing keeping that 7% open (it’s more than 5 but less than 10!) is that people are constantly telling us we HAVE to have another, it isn’t fair to our daughter, etc. But we’re all really happy just as things are, and I’m like you, I don’t see how I could have another and still have time to do all the other things I want to do in life, AND be the nice, patient, calm mama I prefer to be. It’s great to read about someone who’s happily on the other side of that decision. Thank you for sharing!

  9. Newlywed Next Door says

    Found this via Babble. :)

    Really great post

    I’m an old child who is the daughter of an only child, who is the son of an old child (if you’re counting that’s my grandma, my Dad, and me). I could not be happier that I was and am an only child. I had an amazing childhood and I am super close with my parents to this day. Because I have such a small family my parents have forged many friendship that have become like family — which my family joking says is better than real family because they picked them! :)

    Am I worried that I will have to deal with my parents decline and death alone? No, because I have a wonderful husband who loves my parents and will be there to support me and them. And my parents taught be to be strong and self-sufficient, so I think I will be fine. :)

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