If I’m honest with myself, being an only child is hard. There’s just no other way to put it.
As an only child in the middle of adulting, I’ve wondered, do parents really consider what it means to only have one child? In the grand scheme of things, when they decide how many kids they want to have, is it really just, “We will have one, and we are happy with one,” or even, “We only wanted to have one?” I don’t know. But based on my adult experiences as an only child, there are days that I am so grateful that I have more than one child. I realize that this might sound selfish, but this is the reality of where I am in my headspace: there’s no way that I would want one child to have the sole responsibility of me when I’m older.
Being an only child is a catch 22, but I didn’t realize that until this year, when I turned 40. When you’re younger, being an only child has so many benefits (or at least that is what you believe). When I was a child, being the “only” was fun. You didn’t have to share anything! Not your toys, room, your parents. In other words, you might be considered spoiled. And you were most likely spoiled… by everyone. *gasp* Of course, through a child’s eyes, these are the only things that matter. But as I’ve gotten older, being an only child takes on a different meaning. (Side note – For those of you who might be a tad bit confused, the one who I call my “sister” is technically my step-sister. So we both consider ourselves an “only child with siblings”.) Which brings me back to my point, some things should be shared. In my mind, parental care is one of those things.
I pray that by having three kids it means that the weight of responsibility will be balanced amongst them if something was to happen to me or their dad. They won’t have to do that walk by themselves; they get to share that load with someone, and it won’t matter if they are married or not because they have each other.
At the end of the day, I know that my prayer will 100% depend on the strength of my kids’ relationships – both with their parents and each other. Because the unfortunate possibility remains that while I have three kids, I still might have just one that’s willing to step up and do what needs to be done for their parents. I’m trying my best to make sure that I’m raising my kids to be thoughtful and considerate of each other, to teach them about what family looks like and how family is responsible for each other (without causing harm to themselves). And I’m trying to really teach them how or what love should look like and how love should show up. Love is an action! It’s not just a word. It’s not just a noun and a verb. It is more than just the things that you say, it is most certainly the things that you do.
Even in the challenge of living as an “only adult”, if I could change my own circumstances, I would have a couple of siblings, but that wasn’t the cards. I take this to mean that being an only child, and now an only adult, is part of my destiny. Perhaps it is to build some character trait or help me learn some lessons. Or maybe it is ultimately used to help me better prepare my children for their future.