This article isn’t about what you think it might be about. I’m not sorry for being “one and done.” And I’m definitely not sorry for choosing NOT to give my son a sibling. I have to make the best decision for my family and for my health and that means no more babies. One postpartum depression illness, two daily happy pills, and tons of therapy sessions later, I’ve accepted I’m not built to be a mother of multiples. This is me and my family feels complete. Maybe you think it’s my duty as a mother to provide him with a sibling. Maybe you should mind your own business. Maybe I think my most important job is to provide him with a happy mommy.
Yet, for some reason I find myself apologizing often and mostly to other parents with more than one child. It’s as if I feel bad for for venting to another mom about my stressful day because theirs has to be more stressful. And it’s been really stressful lately. My nanny has been away for a month. My husband is gone all week on a business trip, comes home for a few days, and then leaves again. My three-year old needs eye drops every four hours for 7-10 days and I’m thinking he is going to be an MMA fighter when he grows up the way he tries to punch me every time I have to hold him down for just one drop. I don’t even know if the eye drops are making into his eye when I squirt them.
Last night he refused to go to sleep at bedtime, magically wet his bed but kept his diaper dry, and still peed even more in the potty. Once I changed the sheets and put him back to bed, he attempted to negotiate all kinds of deals that would prolong him from having to fall asleep. After listening to him read himself books and sing show-tunes from Hamilton (yes he loves Hamilton like the rest of the world), he finally fell asleep around 10:30pm only to wake up at 3 am, get out of bed, sit by his door and repeatedly whine, “I’m hungry.”
I have a three-year old son and sometimes he has tantrums. Sometimes he doesn’t want to share with other children. Sometimes he melts down when you tell him it’s time to stop playing or time to give someone else a turn. Sometimes he screams and yells when he doesn’t want to leave the playground or the toy store. We negotiate when it’s time to get dressed. We negotiate when when it’s time to turn the TV off. We negotiate how many pieces of broccoli he has to eat at dinner time. Life these days is just your good old-fashioned power struggle.
My son is also an angel when mommy isn’t around–a model citizen–the perfect example of sweet and helpful–a good listener–a good sharer–one who follows directions. I swear his teachers think I’m lying when I say he tried to hit a little girl at a birthday party last weekend or threw every fake piece of food from his fake kitchen onto the floor this morning before school. Or how about the time he drew all over the family room walls with crayons? They say, “Not Mason,” when I tell them about the constant battle that is getting him to clean up his toys. At school, he is the best helper–the first one to stop what he’s doing to put toys away.
So what am I doing wrong? Does any of this sound familiar to you? If you have a threenager or even a terrible two-year old, I’m sure it does. Anytime I talk about these things with mom friends, they all tell me it’s completely normal. Their kids act or used to act the same way at that age–behaving well for others, not as much for them. Getting pissed off when they don’t feel like sharing. Overusing the word words: “No!” and “Not fair!” and “It’s mine!” Laying on the floor face down, kicking their legs because you asked them to come to the table for dinner and they want to keep playing. So I don’t really understand when other moms like to say, “Well he’s an only child.” WTF does that mean? WTF does that have to do with anything?
I was once getting a manicure next to a woman who asked if I had children. At the time, I told her I had a one-year old boy. She then asked my favorite question most people follow that up with. “Are you having any more?” I told her I wasn’t–that my husband and I decided one was enough and the right decision for our family–we were one and done. She informed me she only had one son and that sometimes when you create a masterpiece, it doesn’t make any sense to paint over it. Thank you manicure lady for immediately accepting my choice and making me feel good about it! It doesn’t always happen like that.
In fact, most people respond with confusion, sometimes horror when they find out you are “one and done.” I love that phrase. It’s short and sweet and very blunt. It leaves no room for interpretation. Those people do not. Sometimes those people are strangers. Other times they are acquaintances and family members. All I can say, is that at the end of the day, you don’t know what it’s like to walk in my shoes–to live my life–to know what I need and what’s best for me. Only I know that, especially when it comes to motherhood. I also want to say that I am in no way promoting”one and done” as the best or easiest parenthood choice. If you don’t want any kids or want to have two, three, even five kids, I think that’s incredible. Do it! It’s just not the right choice for me.
If you are one of my closest friends, you know all the reasons why I’m not having any more children. It comes up in our mom conversations all the time. You never make me feel guilty. You never judge. You never try to convince me to change my mind. Thank you for that. So now I’m just going to put it all out there–because I think it’s so important for moms to feel empowered and confident in making the choices they know are best for them–regardless of what others think and say–regardless of who the people are that are doing the thinking and saying.
I really hate when people ask about baby number two. I swear they start asking days after baby number one arrives. Aww, your baby is so adorable. You and your husband need to make more. A boy! He’s going to need a sister–or a brother–a playmate–and soon! You had one–just keep going–what’s one more? You say you don’t want another one right now, but you’ll change your mind–you’ll see. Um…no I don’t think I will…but good talk.
Hello! I need to get used to being responsible for one tiny human. How the eff am I supposed to even think about more than that right now? And at the end of year one of new motherhood? Yeah, I’m still getting used to being responsible for my only tiny human. At the end of year two? Yup, nothing has changed. Still adjusting to taking care of the one single human.
I don’t just hate when people ask me about having more babies. I hate when anyone gets asked this question. How about it’s none of your fucking business! How do you know if someone desperately wants more children, but isn’t having the easiest time conceiving again? How do you know that a mom hasn’t suffered one or multiple miscarriages? How do you know if one parent wants more and the other doesn’t and it’s causing strain on the marriage? You don’t! If someone wants to talk to you about having more babies, they will. You don’t need to prompt them to have the discussion. If they don’t bring it up with you, then it’s probably an off-limits conversation right now. Respect it.