I’m taking a step back today. I’m thinking to myself, How did I end up here, where I am, where I am content, though everything is so different than I thought it would be? I’m especially thinking, How is it that I have become the happy mother of an only child? I never thought that’s who I would be.
I grew up the youngest of three children, and I’d always imagined that when I was a mother, I’d have three or four kids myself. I had no firm reason for thinking having just one child was wrong, but I had a vague sense that it was selfish, that the child would suffer for being alone, that she would be maladjusted, bratty, and self-centered. Many of my childhood friends were only children, and they were lovely, kind friends, but still I held tightly to these underdeveloped judgments of only children.
Judgment. I so easily put on judgment of anyone who makes different choices than I do. But becoming a mother—one so completely different than the mother I thought I would be—has taught me to beat down judgment at every corner. Having struggled deeply with aspects of motherhood that I thought would be easy, even enjoyable, I hold firm to the belief that I cannot judge other human beings for their choices, no matter how wrong or crazy they look to me. When I realize that I’m not the person I expected I was, I have to readjust my view of myself and find new grace for the person I am. And so I choose to do the same for others who have made different choices than I have.
What happened that was life-changing enough for me to reconsider such a long-held negativity toward only children? I must honestly say it wasn’t one thing. It was a million things; it was discovering every day that mothering was so not what I thought it was. It was falling completely in love with my daughter and realizing that our family felt 100% complete as a family of three. Zach and I stumbled our way through a traumatic birth experience, the nightmarish first eight weeks with a newborn, and a painful and miserable 14 months of breastfeeding. In some ways, parenting has gotten easier, but it still challenges us every day—with our one and only girl.
We are so happy to have her in our lives, and she is enough for us. Enough joy and enough pain. Enough struggle and enough laughter. One birth is enough; one first smile is enough; one potty training is enough. I firmly believe that one first day of school, one first lost tooth, and one first love will also be enough! We are filled to overflowing with our one child.
It has taken time to dismantle the negative feelings and stereotypes I had for only children and their parents. At first, I worried that my choice to have an only child meant something was wrong with me. But ultimately, it’s given me a new respect for all families—those with no children at all, those with one parent or one child, those with five or six or more kids, and on and on…families are infinitely varied, and that’s the very thing that makes them so beautiful and so precious.