Written by my dear college friend Emily, who is also navigating new motherhood, and also sometimes screwing it up. Just like the rest of us.
Almost seven months ago, I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl (she weighed two pounds and looked like the offspring of a tiny old man and an exotic bird, but still beautiful). For reasons you’re about to read, she will be our only child. Until I had her I had no idea how many people had opinions about the number of children I should incubate in my very own uterus. Sure, I expected comments from family and friends. But I’ve also gotten a lot of thoughts from coworkers, casual acquaintances (e.g., one of my pro bono clients whom I have met a grand total of two times), even strangers on the street. Sephora and Anthropologie customers seem to have the most to say on the subject (or maybe I just spend a lot of time at those establishments). It usually goes something like this:
Other person: “Congrats! So when are you having your second?”
Me: “Just this one for us!”
Other person (the occasional response): “Oh, just wait – you’ll change your mind!”
Other person (the typical response): “Oh, you can’t have just one! You don’t want her to grow up an only child, do you? Only children are the worst!”
1) I am an only child. Telling me that only children are awful people is rude to me and to my parents. If you already knew that about me and said it anyway, you’re an asshat. If you didn’t, maybe think about what you say to someone about her family before you open your mouth.
2) Most only children are not terrible people, and most terrible people are not only children. It’s true, I promise. Think about that bitchy girl from junior high. She had a sweet little brother who rode horses, right? What about that jerk who made you cry in college because he liked the power trip? What’s that? He had an overweight and emotionally fragile little sister? Thought so. Now think about the only children you know. Are they terrible? Maybe one or two of them are unpleasant, but certainly not all of them. In fact, the percentage of terrible only children you know probably isn’t any higher than the percentage of terrible people with siblings.
3) Due to some pretty severe medical issues (and by that, I mean “hey, I don’t think livers are supposed to swell up like that” severe), my daughter was born eleven weeks early, and we both came pretty close to not making it. If I try again, the odds that I will die are somewhere between 1 in 8 and 1 in 2. Those are pretty bad odds. People who are only having one child might have a medical reason for it, so maybe cut them a little slack. Or maybe MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS.
4) We were probably just going to have the one kid anyway, for a lot of reasons that I won’t discuss here because I don’t want you to think that I’m judging you for choice of family size. (Unless you’re one of those Duggar people who had 19 babies and gave them all J names. If you’re a Duggar, I’m judging you. But also because you put your eleventy million babies on a reality show.) Let’s all agree that the number of children someone wants to have is their business and also totally acceptable. Unless that number is 19.
Will my daughter be screwed up? Undoubtedly. I’m sure I will cause all sorts of harm to her psyche and self-esteem over the next twenty years or so. I’ll tell her that a shirt doesn’t fit, which will somehow mean I’m calling her fat, or I’ll tell her she’s wearing too much makeup , which she’ll take to mean that I don’t think she’s pretty, or I won’t be able to drive her somewhere and her social life will be OVER. The possibilities are endless, really. But will she be more screwed up for not having siblings? I doubt it.
Emily lives in Chicago with her husband, her tiny baby, her enormous dog, and her now normal-sized liver.