I am only having one kid, and I don’t think that’s weird. But it seems that many people beg to differ — especially people of a certain generation. (Boomers, in other words.) It sometimes seems like I’m constantly being asked when the next one is coming along, and then I get an earful when I say there is no “next one.” Once my dermatologist launched into a diatribe about how I “had” to have more kids because only children are spoiled and entitled. Safe to say that I don’t go to that guy anymore.
When the intrusive questions about my family planning start rolling in from strangers (or doctors), I feel like telling them to kick rocks and mind their own business. I hate every single one of the tired stereotypes only children get labeled with. But usually I just smile politely and say something along the lines of, “Oh no — she’s it for us!” while gritting my teeth. Really, though I’d like to go on a diatribe of my own.
See, first off, if I really wanted to make that person feel uncomfortable, I could tell them about how from the moment my husband and I wanted to start trying to have a kid that I had to inject a blood thinner into my stomach that burned like poison. I could tell them I was covered in bruises from the endless injections.
I could tell them that birth trauma is real and sometimes it makes moms not want to do it again. Period.
Or I could tell them in detail about that one sleep-deprived night my newborn wouldn’t stop crying because breastfeeding just was not working out for us, and the dog was barking at every little noise, plus my husband was on a work trip, and I was in the midst of one of the worst depressive episodes I’d have in postpartum life.
I could tell them about that time I collapsed onto the kitchen floor and soaked the tile with tears as I questioned if I should just pack my bags and leave because I truly believed that I sucked as a mom and my entire family deserved better than me. I’d tell them that I don’t want another kid because I quite literally survived the newborn phase by the skin of my teeth. Maybe that would shut them up.
Not that I even need to explain anything to anyone about how my husband and I choose to have a family, but I could also mention that when people tell me my daughter needs a sibling that she does in fact already have a sister — an 18-year-old half sister who loves her to pieces. Maybe they won’t grow up together or fight over the remote, but they’ll still be there for each other.
And even if I did give my daughter a sibling her own age, who’s to say that they would get along and be each other’s built-in best friends? Who can predict what their relationship would be like when they grow up? I know plenty of people who do not speak to their siblings or have extremely strained relationships. Having another kid does not guarantee a happy family.
While I know that these people who try to convince me to grow my family don’t mean to be offensive, it still offends me greatly. I feel judged. Sometimes, I feel like less of a mom because I only have one kid.
There was actually a time when I wanted more kids too. I always thought I would have three — just like how I grew up. My husband and I even invested in one of those fancy strollers that converts into a double plus a platform for a third kid to hop on if need be. I was ready to be a mom of multiples, until I actually became a mom.
I didn’t expect a global crisis when my little one was 8 months old. We were cooped up in a small condo in a major city (that was more or less shut down for over a year) with no childcare or jobs. Yup, I was furloughed, and my husband was laid off. For months, we scrambled to make ends meet.
For the longest time, even after recovering financially, I think my brain remained in that survival mode that I was thanking the universe that I only had one kid to take care of and support and love. I was stretched so incredibly thin that the thought of having to give my all to more than one child seemed impossible.
Before I got pregnant with my one and only biological child, I wanted multiple kids, but plans change unexpectedly. I had zero clue how I would handle motherhood. We changed our minds.
With the number of “one and done” families growing, shouldn’t the stigmas behind that shrink? Whenever I get the feeling that someone is judging me for not having more kids or making me feel like I’m a selfish person for how my husband and I decided to make up our family, I just remind myself that there are so many wonderful benefits for parents and for kids in only child families.
Katie is a contributing Scary Mommy writer covering parenting, celebrity, and viral moments.
She has written content for Distractify and Cuteness as well as personal essays for Thought Catalog and Clean Plates. She has a degree in English from North Central College.
In her free time, she’s hanging with her 3-year-old and husband, planning their next family trip, and watching restocking videos on TikTok.