As a mother of an only child, the journey of motherhood can be bittersweet. There are a multitude of reasons why some married couples only have one child - most of the time, it is a product of circumstances rather than choice. Whatever the reason, I would be lying if I say that I have not felt a tinge of envy when I see facebooks posts of yet another friend joyfully cradling her second (third or fourth!) child.
But yet there is also the "sweet" portion of the mother of an only child's journey.
Sleep glorious sleep!
Like the first night when my child started sleeping through the night at 2 years (which meant I could too) and I didn't have to contend with having to go through the same routine with a second one soon after, and I grinned to myself in the morning and said "Sweeeettttt!"
There is nothing like motherhood to really make you appreciate the pure joy of uninterrupted snoozing, trust me, and having an only child means the amazing feeling of your sheets embracing your inert body for long stretches of time are extended into the foreseeable future.
Alone bonding time is fleeting and precious
Or the moments of bonding that are made all the more sweeter and deeper because it is just the both of you. And I hug her a little tighter during these moments and really try to appreciate that these moments with the same intensity and dynamics are finite if or when another comes along, or when she simply grows out of this.
Balanced social development
Imaginative play and the ability to socialize with adults are some skills that only children develop early
While there are tonnes of benefits of growing up with a sibling, having seen my child play by herself, I don't necessarily think it is a bad thing for her social development. She has her cousins and her friends at school, so she knows how to play with her peers and she knows how to share. But because she is also surrounded by adults much of the time, she has also caught on to a lot of our mannerisms and speech and is completely at ease with holding conversations with adults that are perfectly coherent with no baby talk. She is also perfectly happy without any playmates, falling back on imaginative play with the most mundane of everyday objects to keep herself entertained.
A calmer parenting journey
I'm sure multiple children bring manifold happiness, but the other side of the coin is also multiple stresses - be they financial or simply day-to-day time management. I'm glad I can deal with the problems that come my way in piecemeal portions. I am better able to relish the small joys of motherhood as and when they come my way without having to put out mini fires that invariably pop up more often with multiple children.
The best of us
When we have children, all parents naturally want the best for their children. I believe that even with more than one child, this is possible, but I also think that with just one it is easier to give one's best. Whether it is extra money to go to a better dance school, or more bonding time or having a less frazzled state of mind, the fact is there are just more resources which do not have to be stretched between a few children.
So parents of an only child, whether it is by choice or circumstance, let's keep in mind that what they might miss out on as an only child, they too have lots of opportunities that do not come easily to children who have siblings.
Parents of an only child, what other things are you grateful for?