- Posted September 4, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Confessions from imperfect parents
One and Done - Why Stopping at One is Not Wrong, and None of Your Business
- dsashin, CNN iReport producer
I love being a mother. When I was pregnant with my son, I could not think of anything more magical than feeling his tiny body moving inside of me. Then, when he was born, I saw his perfect face for the first time and his head full of wild hair, and the magical moment of tiny flutters was surpassed.
As I embarked on this new journey of motherhood, I tried my hardest to enjoy every moment - no matter how sleep deprived I was. I read all the parenting magazines, dutifully filled out the baby books, and even made my own baby food when the time came. We played on the floor for hours, read books, sang songs. As we celebrated my son's first birthday, I looked back at the first year with satisfaction and happiness. I was so excited for the years to come. And after my son smeared his cake all over his face, someone asked me for the first time. "So when are you going to have another?"
Seriously, I was still trying to recovery from the past year! Birthing another baby was the furthest thing from my mind. I politely answered "We are just enjoying this little guy for now!"
Over the next year, I was fielding this question weekly. From friends, family, relatives, coworkers, a strange man at the gas station, and random people in the grocery store. While my reproductive endeavors are definitely not the business of anyone, especially complete strangers, everyone felt entitled to ask when I would be getting pregnant again.
Fast forward a few years and a few hundred inquiries later, and my divorce was finalized. Bringing a child in the world can make you realize quickly that the unhealthy relationship you allowed yourself to be subjected to, is not the place for a child.
The inquiries stopped. Now I was a single mother, someone who was raising a child alone. I was not selfish to these people, but a hero. Someone whose strength was to be commended.
Fast forward again, four years later. Proudest mother of the most wonderful eight year old boy. Recently re-married...now the questions start again. "When are you guys going to have a baby?"
Suddenly the same people applauding me for the way I was raising my son and patting me on the back for doing it as a single mother, were telling me that he needed a sibling.
When I give my standard answer "we aren't planning to have more children. One and done for us!" with a polite giggle that really means "none of your business, why are you asking, go away," the responses vary, but are almost always negative.
"But you're such a good mother, you have to have more children!"
"You can't deprive your son of the sibling experience!"
"You have to give your husband a child!"
Hearing "you're a good mother" is lovely, but most mothers never feel like they are doing enough. By my own standards, like most mothers, I'm always feeling guilty that I can't do more, do better, be a superhero. Let's say for argument's sake I'm a wonderful mother. Why does this mean I should add more offspring to my care? How does splitting my time, energy, finances, and sanity amongst multiple children make me a better person? Why am I a worse person if I choose to not do so?
The Sibling Experience. It sounds like a horrifying trendy restaurant or an interactive show at a theme park. In my life, the sibling experience was my two sisters, brother, and me harassing each other, bickering on car rides. Him breaking my dollhouse. Her breaking his guitar. Me having to babysit. All of us swearing that when we grow up, we will never see or speak to each other again. We are all great friends now and I love them all dearly. Bringing a child into the world to give my son an "experience" sounds like a load of nonsense. Sure, let's bring a child into the world so my son can have an experience. Never mind the responsibilities, financial obligations, doubling the number of soccer practices, flag football games, cub scout meetings, and cupcakes baked for Halloween parties. We wouldn't want to deprive the poor lad of this experience.
You have to give your husband a child? My husband is an all-star step-father and does not want to have more children. This is something that we both had similar views on early in our relationship and discussed prior to being married. The same women who can fight for equal rights, equal pay, and rights to their bodies and are telling me that I somehow owe it to someone to conceive a child and birth it for them? Yes, in many instances, people get married and intend to have a family. In ours, we are perfectly happy with our family as it exists, and decided to omit "produce an heir" from our vows.
Since my son is eight years old, we are well out of the diapers, potty training, and Sesame Street phase and enjoying the sports, scouts, and bicycling phase. Having another child and re-starting the clock is not something I want. It is not something my husband wants. We are loving life with our son and have no desire to start the clock over with a baby. I'm perfectly content being Super Aunt to my niece and awaiting the future nieces and nephews that I get to love, have fun with, and send home.
In blogs and articles of the past months I have read men and women defending their decision to remain childless. Those of us raising an only child are often facing judgment and criticism as well. This may be news to all of those strangers at gas stations, grocery store clerks, friends, coworkers, parents, and uncles everywhere - it's none of your business.