I never pictured myself as the mother of an only child. Of course, to be honest, for a long time I didn’t think much about being a mother at all. But when I did, I always pictured myself with two.
Now I’m not so sure.
My daughter’s almost three. Almost out of diapers. Sleeping through the night more often than not. The hardest stuff is almost over.
And I am now 36. In the “advanced maternal age” bracket, as it were.
Add in a financial situation that’s growing ever more tight and common sense dictates that we count ourselves among the “one and done” segment of the population.
It’s not like that’s a bad thing.
My daughter is a beautiful, happy, healthy child. One who I like to think is super smart and super talented. With no other babies to care for, I can focus on her. Play with her. Cuddle with her. Give her what she needs, when she needs it.
With just one child, it’ll be easier to save for things like vacations. More room for extras like dance lessons and soccer teams (or basketball, as she is currently insisting).
More room, period.
And our cozy family does feel pretty perfect, most of the time. When we’re walking down the street, each of us holding one of Tori’s hands, it’s hard to imagine any other dynamic working quite so well.
And when she’s being a monster? It’s hard to imagine adding another child to the mix.
But there are other times. Times when every cell of my body cries out for another child. When it feels like someone’s missing. Like there’s still an empty chair at the table.
I watch her watching other families at the park. Families where multiple children chase each other across the playground, yelling and screaming as they go, and my heart breaks a little. As an only, she’ll never have that.
I think about all the adventures I had with my brother growing up. I remember the day he decided to try and see if he could walk on water, and the lecture we got. I think about the weeks we spent boogie boarding at the ocean, and catching crabs, and dunking each other under the water.
As an only, she’ll never know what that’s like either.
Of course, she also won’t have to deal with the flip side of the sibling experience. She won’t have to deal with the fighting and the hitting and the name calling.
And maybe that’s a good thing.
But as I look at the baby gear still in our garage, or search through her newborn clothes looking for an outfit for her favorite doll, my heart twinges.
Then I hear a friend’s pregnant and it pinches some more. Even the memory of those brutal weeks after delivery and the depression that threatened to swallow me whole doesn’t make it stop.
I am happy with the family I have. I’m pretty sure my baby-making years are behind me.
But my heart? Still struggles with the thought of having just one.