Monday, December 21, 2009

The Only Child Option; Or What's Wrong With You Frigid Ice Queen

Today is the first day of winter break. It started off well. Noah slept in 2, 765 times later than he usually does and didn't come moaning into my room until 7:45. We played a little with his new bug game, and then I beat the legendary and feared puzzle #40, in the "Super Difficult" level of Clever Castle, for shock value.  I am finally cool.

Next was a Chicken Little DVD while I showered, which ended quite quickly, as I didn't know, but apparently the sky falling is that which five year old anxieties are made of.  Surprisingly, at school this fall, Noah play a bit part in Chicken Little, in his preforming arts class. Although, most recently it was Santa in the Polar Express, which Noah preferred and whole-heatedly got into with all the gusto and dedication of any three foot tall Jew.  Ho Ho Ho.

We both shared scrambled eggs and cinnamon toast for lunch, and when I asked him to come in and watch The View with me while I put on my make up, he politely  declined  in favor of  fifteen minutes with his "Steam and Steal; Train Art of the 20's, 30's, and 40's" calendar from 2007.  What a great morning.

And then while laying there in his little Snoopy shirt, hanging half-off, upside down on our over sized club chair, Noah said:   "Mama, I'm lonely, I wish we had more people." 

My heart sank  to my feet and every self flagellating,  guilty thought of Noah being an only child sprang forth, out from the filing cabinets of my brain, and started slapping me in the face.
"Oh Noah...." I said with tears in my eyes.  "Do you mean that you wished you had a brother or a sister like other families?"

And then he thought for about two seconds and said: "No Mom, I wish that we had more kids on our block!"

*Crickets chirping*

" do? Like, this isn't about siblings"?
"No, I don't want a baby bothering me" said Noah, with nothing but conviction.

Then we put our coats on, took in the garbage cans, drove all the way over to Jungle Java, and bought the limited time  offer deal of 12 passes for $50, so he can go play in a "neighborhood" with a butt load of kids in it.

I'm not going to bore you AGAIN.  About the way that EVERYONE, EVERYWHERE that we go, asks BOTH of us, when or if we are going to have another child. Wait...wait, strike that, the secular, humanistic Jews at the latke party last week didn't ask us, but that's probably because they are an extremely liberal, very intellectual bunch, which automatically makes them defy odds, and apparently that includes the odds that someone random is going to come up and ask us about my uterus. It was also a lot better in New York City last month. Apparently in some places, there are these ridiculous people who actually think that living within their means is an ok thing to influence how many children they have. I just said; "Pshaw! What's living costs, lack of space and time have to do with it!? Ha!"
We were at a Christmas party this past weekend.  Hey, a Hanukkah party AND a Christmas party. Can you say: POPULAR!
And of course we heard it...yada...yada....
"Only one!?"
"Are you sure!?"
The rudest most recent, rudest remark, which didn't happen at the party by the way was:
(With a frown and a sad, I pity you voice) "Awwww......really? That's too bad...."
No, really, what's too bad is that you have to drive a mini-van lady! SUCKER!

Ok, so my question is, why is it, in our culture, perceived to be so NOT NORMAL when you choose to be a one child family!? Why is it looked upon with disbelief and a negative stigma? Shouldn't we have more openness and acceptance that having an only child can be an ok option?
I'm sure that there are millions of families out there, that go on to their second child, not because they are positive it's the best choice for their situation, but because of the pressure from family, friends and society to fit the norm. Nobody likes being the odd man out. 

I'm not saying by any means that having an only child is a better way or Superior to having multiple child families. I know as well as anybody else that the number of children that you do chose to bring into this world is an extremely personal decision, based on a limitless number of unique factors. I'm not advocating for only child families. What I AM advocating for though, is a more visible and thought about option of choosing to just have have one, if that means it is the right fit for your family. It would be a positive thing!


Meagan Vanover, CWP said...

We are quite content with our four person family unit and it bothers me so much that everyone and their mother is so concerned and bothered with the fact that I do not want more children.

When they ask why, I just say because I am still tired and crabby from the two that I have.

I used to go into a dialog about how two children fit well in our home, cars, theme parks, grocery cart, restaurant booths, finances, etc. but the truth is, is that no-one cares. They just think I'm young and therefore should not stop having babies.

But I really am tired and still crabby.

(And very happy with the two that I have.)

markpuhl said...

The fact that people were asking us about #2 days after the birth of our daughter always sounded a bit strange to me. It's always seemed like more of a reflection of their own parent/child issues.

FYI--We were at Jungle Java the other night when you guys were there, and that place is incredible.

sharon said...

beautiful post and adorable photos.

Lauren said...

Hi, thanks for the comments! :)

Meagan-Who the heck are you hanging out with!? I'm just kidding. So you've been getting the "when are you having a second" and "when are you having a third". Wow! Harsh.

What I'm kind of getting at is that, yes they're going to be ask us these things over and over, but the concept of a one-child family needs to be more accepted in this country. It shouldn't be seen as an oddity. At least two child families don't carry the same stigma.

One more thing, I should have mentioned this in a post. People keep asking you when are you going to have another BABY. Because of course, right, we all love BABIES! Heck, I want a baby! I love babies, so sweet and cuddly. But that said, there is a big difference between wanting another baby to hold and care for, and wanting a toddler, preschooler, child, teenager and all of the responsibility and required work that come with it.
People just want other people to have another baby so they can play with that baby, and then when it becomes a four year old having a meltdown, they run away.

Markpuhl- Wow! How interesting and random? How did you come across us online!? Thanks for the comment! Next time you see us at JJ, come by and say "hello"!

I think you are right about the people's intrusions being more about their own parent/child issues. Sure, it's human. We try to give advice, try to help. Even if it's intrusive or not really the best advice. Thanks!

Thank you Sharon!!!!
When you get back, and you and Ian have the first one, I promise not to ask you when you're having the second, third, fourth........, seventh and eighth one. xo!

One more thought, also something I should have put in the post. I'm not saying always, but sometimes, I think that people push you to "do what they did", as a way to validate that they made the right choice. Does this make sense?

markpuhl said...

I started reading your blog a few years ago when I was on the precipice of parenthood. I didn't want to bother you guys at JJ--plus I was preoccupied with chasing my daughter around that place :)

Lauren said...

That's awesome Markpuhl !!!
Thanks so much for reading, and next time, if you're not busy chasing your little girl, come say "Hi"!
Thank you for your comments too!
Lauren :)

Laura said...

My credo right now is: "Be happy with what you have" and that sums up what I tell people when they ask us if we're having another. Yes, we make cute babies but we're very happy right now and want to keep it that way.

Noah is one handsome, smart and sweet kid, so why not stop when you've created such of an awesome kid. Other people are jealous because you got it right the first time! ;o)

Kendra Lynn said...

Hey...if you are happy...go for it, girl! I say, you are free to choose how many children you want. Noah is especially gifted, and you know that and are happy with that. More power to you, baby.

I love you...hope to see you sometime soon! Hugs to Noah!

p.s. Jungle Java is my girls' FAVORITE playplace...and you are right, it IS like a neighborhood!

lws said...

I think what you said about people seeking validation by pressuring others to do what they did is right on. My husband and I probably will not have children and in certain circles that is socially unacceptable as well. I'm 31 and have little interest in kids (sure, I like them when they are cute and cuddly, who doesn't?) and I don't see that changing. And if I do change my mind, I don't see us having more than one child.

Creating a new life is a huge responsibility and I think it is so important to do it for the right reasons - as an expression of a couple's love, with a desire to help this little person develop into an intelligent, compassionate citizen of the world and so on ... but I personally just don't have it in me. I respect the people who have the energy and patience required for such a daunting task.

The rude questions like, "when are you two going to start a family?" used to really bug me. For one thing, according to my definition we are a family. Two people can be a family. Really, at least half the time those kinds of questions come off as judgmental and prying.

I'm sure people would express their happiness for us if we were expecting a baby. I wonder why they can't be just as happy for us that we are happy in our lives now? We are mostly content and like the other comment said, maybe we should all practice being happy with what we have.

Anonymous said...

Everyone here in the UAE thinks there is something wrong with me or Youssef b/c we have no children. They don't understand that we have no children on purpose. It's rather startlingly direct I think for strangers to make such comments. That said, you can't let that stuff bother you.

BTW - why are my blogs not worthy of your links list?


Anonymous said...

i should add that i don't get the baby thing. i want a toddler and upwards but babies are the part i want to avoid. i find puppies much cuter and they don't need 3am feedings (usually)...


Lauren said...

Wow! Thanks everyone for the comments, they are great!

Laura (CO)- Thank you!!! I really love your credo: "Be happy with what you have." It's so simple and incredibly true. I'm going to use that in one of those few times that I am cornered or challenged on the one child thing. Beautiful, perfect. Who wouldn't be happy with Caitlin and Cara. They are amazing, loving, gorgeous little girls. I'd love to be a Mother to a girl, it just looks like so much fun. I feel that way when I see what you and Kendra are up too. I'm sorry you guys, I'm a good blog reader, not a commenter, I always say this and I mean it, I need to get better at that!!
So, you are really right Laura, I am happy with the family I have! Thank you for the wisdom, a little Christmas gift!

Kendra-Woo Hoo! Thank you for the girl power. ;)
(high-five). Yeah, I'm happy for now. You never know, but I really appreciate your support.
See my above comment to Laura about the girls. I think it's the most adorable thing to see Merry and Kelsey all dressed up, and their hair with the pretty accessories. As I say, like you too, they're beutiful both inside and out! I miss you guys too. know, meeting at JJ sometime would be a great thing. The kids could play and we can get a coffee! What do you think?

Lws- THANK YOU! I'm so sorry that you have that pressure from so many I'm sure, asking when you and your husband are having children. That must be difficult. There needs to be a whole other post on The NO Child Option! Gosh, that also needs to be acceptance in our society.

I'll tell you something, I don't talk about this much, but I think there is a lot to be said about choosing not to have children. I love Noah and I could never imagine my life without him. That's a given, but when I think about people I know, who are living incredible lives, traveling, having fabulous high powered careers, or are into sports, getting together with friends....I think, if they have children at some point, most of these wonderful things will go away for the most part. Yes you can travel, work, play sports, see friends after kids, but it's just not the same at all. I didn't think things would change completely, I just thought they would change 50%, but no, my life is about 150% different.
For some, the change and having a kid-centered life brings total happiness, but for others I think that it brings much the opposite. There is a media myth out there that being a parent makes your happy and your life complete, when in fact recent studies show the opposite. I wish that there was more honesty and transparency. That way society could understand and accept more, the choice to not have children, in addition to having them!

I admire your self-awareness and honesty Lws. Thanks.

Eh hem..."anonymous from the UAE"-
Thank you for the comments.
First, lack of linkage- that was merely an over-site, will go back and add to the template soon.
How can you say don't let it bother me? If something bothers me, it does. Anyway, perhaps once you and Youssef hear it for over five years, from everyone, then maybe it would bother you too. I've never had the tough shell that you do. We're different, that's normal. It doesn't bother me as much anymore as makes me annoyed anyway.
I understand what you are saying about the baby thing. Be careful what you wish for with the toddler and upwards. Have you been around a toddler or a preschooler having a meltdown? I know you have, but like, for several years straight? OMG. Really. I get it though, you are great with kids and babies are not the same level of interaction.

Twins-Plus-1 said...

awww...beautiful fam pic! We miss all your smiley faces :)

From our fam to yours...happy holidays! A get together soon?

Kendra Lynn said...

Jungle Java it is....let me know when. And which one...we have one in Canton, and there is one in Ann Arbor...not sure which one you go there one near you, too?

Love you.

Anonymous said...

I did not mean it like you took it, Ms. Defensive. I was empathizing... just saying that you shouldn't let other people put their values and issues onto you. You don't think we have had people asking us for five years now if we have or will have children. It's just escalated here. Local families here have 4+ kids usually, but the children complain that their parents never spend time with them. A nurse said that often the women don't even want to see the babies after birth b/c they're sick of childbirth. The locals tend to be so wealthy that they just hire servants/near slaves to care for them from abroad. On Xmas, we went on a desert trip and a family was there. The mother had control over exactly what the 'servant' wore and her every movement. This is the dynamic children are reared in. Our driver (who only does it for fun and is immensely 'well-off') was married at 17 and has 4 children at 25. Ugh! You're better off having time for Noah and giving him all the attention he needs (which is a lot, as he's such a smarty pants)... and, yes, living within your means. That's one of the biggest reasons I haven't had a child - that and the travel... I'm done being supportive, though, as I fear being 'yelled' at again:( Laura

Judy said...

The comment I mostly get (at almost 41 years old) is when we're going to have a GIRL - because I had total control of the sex of the two I have???? And, get this, it is from my 94 year old GRANDMOTHER. Factory's closed, grandma. LONG closed.

My return line to all of this is "We will when you do it, too!" My grandmother doesn't quite know how to take that, but I think she gets the picture. :)

Anonymous said...

I stumbled upon your blog by doing a Google search "What's wrong with having one child?" I LOVE what you have to say. Thank you.

I, too have the sweetest little boy who socializes well, is loving and quite honestly pretty darn hilarious. I told my husband that I think we got this kid right - I don't want to ruin it with another.

Thank you again for your wonderful blog. I've got you bookmarked!