Yes, I'm Happy with One Child. Please Stop Asking.
I always wanted to have two kids; one boy and one girl (and yes it was going to work out just like that). I would picture the two of them running around the backyard, playing together in the play room, eating side by side in matching high chairs. I would name them names that began with the same letter (I’m so basic), like Sebastian and Sofia. They would grow up to become best friends and always have each other to rely on. I had my perfect family created in my head and it was exactly what I wanted.
Then I had my son and over the past 16 months of motherhood, my plan has changed. I knew that being a mother was going to be hard work, a 24/7, 365 gig. I knew there’d be many sleepless nights and patience-testing days. What I didn’t know was that it would be enough to change my imaginary family of four to a real-life family of three. That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy being a mother, because I really, really do and I LOVE my son. I shower him with affection (some could argue a little too much) all day, every day. My heart hurts when I look at him and I wouldn’t trade him for anything in the world, but I quite often find myself longing for the day that I can get into bed and actually STAY there until the sun rises. I daydream about the evenings when I can eat my dinner while it’s still hot, and I’m actually sitting. I miss being able to go somewhere without having to factor nap time into my schedule. If this makes me selfish then fine, I’m selfish, but I’m also looking forward to doing things with my son when he’s a little older. Going on family vacations, taking him to the movies, driving to Montauk to spend the day; things that are hard to do with an infant in the mix. I still have a while to go, but the thought of finally getting close to all of these things only to have another baby and start all over again makes me nauseous. And tired.
Now this is where the mom guilt sets in. Am I hurting my son by making him an only child? Is he going to grow up feeling like his childhood was lacking? Will he blame me for not experiencing that special bond shared between siblings? Ugh. It’s even worse when someone asks that question every one just LOVES to ask, “when’s baby number two coming?”. The looks on people’s faces when I tell them I’ve closed up shop (aka my legs) only deepens my guilt, like I’m ashamed of letting them down.
When a mother says she doesn’t want another baby, she is looked down upon. It’s almost as if having the first one wasn’t good enough and her experience as a mother isn’t quite real yet. I carried this kid for 9 months, and pushed him out of my body after 11 hours of labor. I’m still waking up in the middle of the night every. Single. Night. This is as real as it gets, people. I’ve got the under-eye bags and “mom bod” to prove it.
In my opinion, it’s a weird time for mothers right now. As women we are finally starting to take a stand against gender inequality and discrimination, yet as mothers we are still judging each other for our personal choices. I don’t want to dedicate the next couple of years to making more babies, but I’m still a mom. I can love motherhood without needing to have more children, and my son will have the best childhood I can give him even if I don’t give him a brother or sister. My husband and I can create special memories for just the three of us to share, like the Three Amigos. So, this is for all the mamas out there who are “one and done,” the mamas who choose to be a little “selfish”. We are moms, as good as anyone else.
Allie Szymanski grew up in Long Island and is currently a stay-at-home mother and blogger. When not hanging out with her husband and her son, she’s reading, cooking, home decorating, and obsessing about everything Fall-related. You can find out more about her on her blog, Long Island Millennial Mama, and on her Instagram.