Thursday, July 10, 2014

Raising Just One Kid

I have just the one kid. I've taken to saying "just one" because I'm asked frequently if she's all I've got. You're expected to have more than one and just because no one has ever seen me out and about with a second child doesn't mean I don't keep an extra locked in the basement. That would make more sense than only having given life to one other human being. Having an only child is somewhat startling.

Julia's attempt at photography when she was about four-years-old.
When I last wrote about her only-ness, Julia was four and we, her parents, were twenty-eight.  Ah, twenty-eight, I remember you! Back then people assumed that I was fertile. Their knowing looks conveyed their thought that I might be on the verge of giving birth to a second child without ever even knowing I was pregnant. I was a naive girl back then, convinced there was only going to be one baby. Ever. Boy was I....


Oh yeah. I was right. Five years have passed and I still have just the one. She is nine and I am thirty-three. People seem to accept that there's only ever going to be one child in my family. I'm happy and satisfied and I know that I got just what I was supposed to have.


I'm a good Mom to one little girl. And still, I've always been fairly certain I'm messing up somehow in a way that I might never notice or understand. I expect Julia to tell me (or her therapist) all about it in her 20s.
This was taken at the kindergarten Mother's Day
program. See that crown? I got it because I'm good at what I do.

Maybe her complaint will be that she was an only child.

There is an ample amount of second guessing fueled by her position as our solitary offspring. Would we notice her doing that if there were others? Would that be a big deal if my attention was divided? How has it affected her social skills? Is she lonely? Is she too attached? Why doesn't she like to play by herself?

I find myself, at times, compensating for the lack of children in our household: ignoring behavior (very rarely) and making play dates (slightly more frequently) and forcing independence even when there's really no reason (that one I do all the time).

It occurs to me that this is my mistake, one of them anyhow. Attempting to envision some alternate reality and then parenting as though that was our life is bound to end in frustration. I don't know that I wouldn't be still be brushing her hair for her if there were more kids. I've forced her into the realm of haircare because I'm pretty sure she'd have to be more independent if there were siblings. There's an entire timetable created in my mind to make sure she is ready for adulthood. It is spurred on mostly by the ghostly specter of the other kids that never were.

I should really stop doing that.

But then again, it probably would take a lot of kids to occupy my vigilant eye. I never was keen on having more than two and it occurs to me that I could still hover pretty effectively over them both. So perhaps it's not a mistake. Or the only child bit isn't the mistake. It's that I'm an introspective helicopter mom. And a worrier. I'm going to set up a PayPal for donations to a therapy fund right now.