10 Reasons It's Tough Being the Mom of 1 Kid

number one

When my daughter was born, my circle of friends changed. There were the old friends but new ones too: moms I met on the playground or at story hour, moms who I ran into at pre-school drop-off. Having kids tends to bring you together. But as many of those friends have gone on to have more kids, just as many of those friendships have fallen by the wayside.

There's a divide that seems to exist with many between me -- mother of one -- and them -- mothers of many. It's to a point where I simply don't talk about my parenting struggles much, even as other moms pour out tales of trying to wrestle three over-tired little ones into bed.

I could talk about my exhaustion, about being over-extended and at my wits' end, but with all but my closest friends, I've found I sense a palpable air of disdain.

"What does she know about hard? She's only got one kid!"

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It's true. I am a one and done mom and happy with my choice too. It fit for my family, just as two, three, four ... or even more fits for others. There are advantages to raising one kid, just as there are to raising many.

But if there's one myth about raising only children that needs to be busted wide open, it's the idea that somehow my life is "easier" because I stopped after one.

Motherhood -- be it parenting one kid or many -- is hard. And being a mom of one means dealing with myriad issues moms of many never face

1. There is no built in entertainment. There is no big sister to play cars with, no little brother to throw the ball to in the backyard. Even when you're bone tired after a long day of work, playing with your kid is completely on you.

2. There is no built-in best friend. It's true, not every child is friends with their sibling, but most siblings share an emotional relationship. At the very least, when a child is angry with Mom and Dad, they have a sounding board in the room down the hall to listen. When there's no brother or sister to listen, that anger has to come out somewhere ... and often it's right at YOU, the parent.

3. Family "discounts" are a rip-off. Ever heard the term "family four-pack"? We never get the discount! And when the town pool lets entire families get in under one fee but expects us to pay extra for our only to bring a friend, it's hard not to notice the disparity. 

4. No chance to chill out. When the second baby comes around, parents know what they're doing. They get to relax and enjoy things a little more. For those of us with one kid, on the other hand, we carry the stress of everything being new to us all the time, plus the stress of knowing we only get one chance to get this right.

More From The Stir: 10 Reasons It Stinks to Be an Only Child

5. We're constantly badgered about our choice. "When are you having another one?" "What do you mean you aren't having another one?" "It's not fair to your daughter not to give her a sibling!" "Clock is ticking, why aren't you pregnant again yet?" The questions and demands made of one-and-done families are rude, invasive, and constant. For some reason saying you're having an only child is tantamount to saying "I know you know more about my uterus, sex life, financial status, and marriage than me, so ask me anything!"

6. Our kids are constantly questioned about our choices. Nothing irks me more than when someone stops my daughter to ask her, "Don't you want a little brother or sister?" For starters, no, she doesn't! She has never asked for one and, more to the point, has specifically told me at various times that she's glad not to deal with certain things her friends with siblings do. Secondly, it's an adult decision, and it's pretty low of you to try to put it on a little kid's shoulders.

7. There are no siblings to make things "fair." A child psychologist once told me that assigning chores in households of two children or more is typically made easier because one child sees that their sibling is doing something and the "fairness" factor pushes them to act as well. In a house with just one kid, the only child doesn't see another kid taking on feeding the dog or putting dishes in the sink ... and it's a much harder lesson to teach. The same goes for just about everything else in the household -- from limits on toys to what sort of clothes you're willing to purchase. There's no "fair" line drawn in the sand, making the arguments -- and your job to hold the line -- that much harder.

8. We're constantly worried about our only children being judged for, well, being only children. Sure, every parent worries about their kids. But even when we're sure we made the right choice, and even though science is largely with us on the notion that only children turn out A-OK, there remains a society-wide perception that we are spoiling only kids or turning out anti-social freaks. Like any other parent, we just want what's best for our kids, but the myths about only kids are daunting ... and tend to follow even the most well-behaved, non-spoiled, wonderful kids in the bunch.

9. There's no strength in numbers. Send two kids out for a bike ride 'round the neighborhood, and you at least have the sense that one will look out for the other. With only kids, you just have to trust that they'll be OK. At times, parents of only children are singled out as being the worst of the helicopter parents. It's an unfair assessment of a group that practices a wide range of parenting practices, but this is one concern that may explain it.

More From The Stir: 8 Surprising Scientific Facts About Only Children

10. We spend a lot of money and just barely reap the rewards. Oh, dress she wore once, we hardly knew ye ... and there's no little sister to get at least one or two extra wearings out of it. In fact, when the annual "it costs X amount of money to raise a child to adulthood" figures come out, parents of one are faced with the notion that most of the expenses cited in the figures are actually evened out across multiple kids. You only have to buy one house, for example, or one family health insurance plan -- regardless of the number of kids.

So there you have it. Being a mom of one is .... not all unicorns and glitter. But it is absolutely right for me.

Have an only child? What's your biggest struggle?

 

Image via © iStock.com/Sean_Warren

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