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. “When are you having your next one?” 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. I don’t even know why I felt like I had to justify my decision to a complete stranger. I guess I didn’t want my response to be met with the usual, “You will change your mind.” Or “What do your parents think? Don’t they want lots of grandchildren?” “It’s so much nicer for kids to have a sibling to play with.”
But she surprised me. 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. And I have yet to come across any parenthood choice that is easy.
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?