Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Mother to One

I had a long time girlfriend sleep over last night because she thought I would be lonely all by myself without H out of town Monday through Friday. I think she knew how it feels to be with that one child all week long. She is also a mommy to a boy, her only child, who seeks out the only other living human being in the house constantly like my little one does. She tells me she had an emotional conversation with her 5 year old about not having siblings like all of his cousins and friends. I fear one day that J will melt into tears asking for siblings, because he is a social bird and he is already asking for a little brother to play with or a little sister to adore. She gave me reassurance I never had with other moms of multiple kids and I do hold a little bit of resentment when they say things like, "Sus, it must be so nice to have one child, you don't know how hard it is to have more than one." or "you can't say such and such things because you only have one," because at the end of the day, we've also cooked three home cooked meals, changed him a million times, taken him to school, the park, a play date, Lego land, the zoo, and more often than not, moms with only children plan more things outside of the house and events more elaborate to make up for lack of company. Even when your children are not the same playing age, there's something about a full house of people that gives a settled feeling of company and fullness.

I understand the physical and mental hardship of having a multitude and it feels like a multitude when you're outnumbered by your own kids at home, but I don't think it's any easier to have one, we just have different hardships. I have other concerns and difficulties as I maneuver through each day, trying to schedule each minute attempting to find balance between engaging with my child, taking a breather from the constant interaction (mostly communicating through cars, and his stuffed "friends) and getting out to have interaction outside of just the two of us. When you have one child, you are the target to 14 hours of chatter, demands and negotiations, you don't have a split second of contentment when your children are interacting with siblings, whether they are playing nicely or fighting with one another, it's the reprieve that is bestowed that enters you into a mini-retreat of mindless sanctuary. Then those times come when your only child is too quiet and leaves you alone, you worry that they're lonely, that they're too quiet, too alone, why isn't that child chatting in your ear about playing cars or solving a Pete The Cat floor puzzle with him.

After a certain point, you can herd your children in masses and they become independent enough to play on their own, with one another, the older children will learn to take care of the little ones. With only children, he will always be alone, and to have any peer interaction they will have to go out side of the house to find someone they will find consistency, trustworthiness, loyalty in their friends. I realize there are siblings that grow up always in contention and they grow apart as adults, but there are greater chances in a healthy home to grow up in a home full of people who will love you unconditionally in the safety of family bond that can never be broken. He will always be your brother, she will always be your sister. At the end of our conversation, I felt a little softened in my anxiety of having my little monkey, who publicly conducts himself as a perfect English gentleman and makes a liar out of me, because there was some validation in the feelings I had about having one child. That someone else understood, I don't leisurely cook full and satisfying meals because he is contently playing quietly in his room, that we sit at home with glorious silence and tidy homes because, let's face it, how much mess can one child make? That taking care of one child some how cuts down on all the activity or responsibility that comes with raising a child, logistically and by quantity yes, but not by a whole heck of a lot.

You as a mom go a little nutty, having interactions like this:

opening my eyes in the morning , every morning, I see J standing there with an arm full of stuffed animals. His bunny, elephant, doggy and Curious George.

J: mom do you wanna play with my friends
M: umm....no buddy...can you give me time to wake up?
J: you don't like my friends?
M: umm...no its not that I don't like your friends, they're really YOUR friends and I just met them through you, we never really play on our own...you're our mutual friend and so, it's not that I don't like them, we just don't have much in common
J: (looking confused)
M: never mind...come here...I'll play with you.