2016-03-26 22.20.24

There are the universal themes that link all parents to one another: We all know well the elation, the worry, the self doubt, the pride and the frustration that goes hand in hand with parenting. Then, there are those parenting situations that are unique — that are particular to each family or to each type of family. We are a single-child family, and as such, there are a few things that are true for us that might not be true for a multiple-kid family. Here they are:

  1. As a parent in a single-child family, you spend a lot of time on the floor. Let’s face it, as comfy as your furniture may be, kids rarely sit on it. Their play area/dinner table/ sleeping spot/lounge of choice is the floor. And with no other children in the house, guess who’s your child’s favorite playmate. You! Try as you might to get them to play Legos with the dog or to entice them onto the cushy microfiber couch that seems to be calling your name…nope…You’ll be parking it on the floor for an extended edition of naked Barbie meets Doc McStuffins. Hardwood floors are not your friend in this situation, but it is one of the few scenarios in which it’s actually beneficial to, like me, have a little extra padding on your rear end.
  2. Everyone thinks it’s okay to ask you why you don’t have other kids. Yes, acquaintances, distant relatives, and even complete strangers somehow think it’s their business why you haven’t procreated more than once. People I don’t know well at all have even tried to convince me that my daughter needs a sibling, so I should get right on that. I imagine unmarried people of a certain age and married, childless people also have to sidestep intrusive questions such as these. Let me do a public service here: There are myriad reasons for why or why not people have children or why they have the number of children they have, most of which are personal and none of your damn business.
  3. You have an “elevator speech” prepared to explain why you only have one child. You have fielded the indelicate questions about why you don’t have more children so often that you’ve memorized a 30-second speech to get people off your back about this subject. You’ve said it so many times that it pours out of your mouth in one long sentence in which you don’t even take a breath: Wellwereallywantedmorekidsbuthadadifficultdeliverythefirsttimeandwereallyarejustgratefulforwhatwehaveanddon’twanttoriskanotherdangerousdelivery….. (Nod politely, then walk away.)
  4. One child can make an insane amount of noise — as much as multiple children even. But having one kid can also mean that your house is quiet sometimes. You are grateful for both.
  5. You are your child’s favorite playmate, companion, confidant, cuddler, dance partner, napkin, hair-braider, and cheerleader. You are the Anna to their Elsa — the Mater to their Lightning McQueen. Sometimes this can make it more challenging to keep the parent vs. friend boundary clear.
  6. You and your family will come home from Disneyland, Chuck E. Cheese, children’s birthday parties, sporting events, holidays, and playgrounds completely over-stimulated. You will say, “Phew, thank goodness we only have one!”
  7. Other times, you will come home from baby showers, visiting friends’ and relatives’ new babies, or babysitting your nieces and nephews and feel like you want another baby.
  8. Your child is used to being the center of attention and not sharing the limelight with siblings. Thus, they may have a case of the “look at me’s,” and they will find out the hard way that their teachers, coaches, friends, and friends’ parents aren’t always interested in looking at them or seeing what cool new thing they can do.
  9. You worry a lot about your child’s social life and social skills. When your kid doesn’t have built in playmates in the way of siblings, you put a good deal of effort into seeking out opportunities for them to connect with children their own age. Even when they do this at school, you’ll still work hard to organize unstructured playtime for them. And even if you’re the type of parent who’s extroverted and outgoing and really on top of this, you’re still going to wonder if your child’s social skills are where they should be, simply because they don’t get the same amount of practice time as those kids with siblings.
  10. You have to make a concerted effort not to spoil your kid. When I was single and gainfully employed in the non-freelance capacity, I spent a good deal of my salary on nonsense, i.e., travel, clothes, makeup, purses and shoes. And my justification was: “Well, I have no responsibilities and I have a 401k, what else am I going to spend my money on?” Now that I’m a parent, it’s hard not to apply the same logic to spending all of our disposable income on our one and only child. Thus, we’re mindful about not falling into this trap.
  11. Travel is easier with one child. They are quite portable.