Shortly after I was born, my mother used to tell me, Grandpa Fagalde said, “Well, when are you going to have your boy?” Exhausted from giving birth, she wasn’t thrilled about the idea at that moment, but a year and a half later, she gave birth to my brother. Like most of the families on our block, our parents had two children, a boy and a girl. A full set. We fit perfectly in our three-bedroom baby boom houses in the suburbs of San Jose.
Fast forward to 2020 and the Childless by Marriage community. So many people here are hoping, praying and pleading to have a baby, just one, but I suspect we really want a full set, too, which means more than one.
If we only manage to have one, he or she would be an “only child.” Although lone children can thrive, happy to receive all of their parents’ attention, they will go through life without the companionship of another person who has exactly the same family history and who will be around for major family events. They might also provide nieces and nephews for you to cherish. God knows I would hate to have gone through the recent loss of my father without my brother. We were a team throughout that ordeal and he has handled the brunt of the estate management.
In so many situations we read about here, a person would be lucky to have a single child. The partner is already reluctant, or the body is not cooperating. If one sperm and one egg actually get together and if the pregnancy lasts the whole nine months and if the baby is born healthy . . . dare we ask for more than one? Should we just pray for twins?
Sure, having more than one child is double the cost and double the effort. My mother always said she sometimes thought she’d lose her mind those first few years with the two of us both in diapers and into everything while Dad was at work all day. But it was good for us. We always had someone to play with when other kids weren’t around. We fought a lot, but we were united against the world. Now that our parents are gone, we still have each other. I have always wished I had a sister, too, but Mom and Dad didn’t cooperate.
As Catholics, if they were following the rules, my parents would have had more children, but honestly most Catholic couples use birth control of some kind. As a working class family living off my father’s income as an electrician, they would have struggled to take care of a larger family. Two was enough for them.
Many of our readers have married someone who already has children from a previous relationship. So did I. Two of my friends in that situation had one more child together. For medical reasons, they could not have more. Others had more than one. I’m not going to say the children from the second marriage blended perfectly with the kids from the first. They did not turn into the Brady Bunch. They got along, but it was always clear they came from different tribes. But both partners in the marriage got the children they wanted; no one was left childless.
Back to the original question. While we’re asking to have one child, dare we ask for two—or more? What do you think? Are any of you “only children?” Do you wish you had a brother or sister? Would you like to have more than one child with your current partner? Dare you ask? Or would negotiations completely shut down if you went that far?
Driving down the road, I often follow cars with stencils on the back window representing their families. Have you seen them? There’s the mom, the dad, the multiple children and the dog. How many people would we like on our back-window stencil?
I look forward to your comments.
“The Rise of the Only Child,” Washington Post, June 19, 2019
“The Truth About Only Children,” The Guardian, May 31, 2018
6 thoughts on “Dare we ask for more than one child?”
Hi, Sue. When I was little in the 70’s, every family had MORE than two siblings and only children were rare. But a counselor friend once told me that since there are so many only children nowadays they don’t experience the same loneliness as only children used to. It is easier from the parents’ perspective to have just one though. But you are correct, siblings generally cannot imagine not having each other, so in a way the second one is a gift to the first.
I think it’s okay to want more than one. It’s certainly not selfish. However, let’s say if I had one, I just would not express [my desire for another] to a childless individual or couple.
I’m glad that you and your brother have each other.
I’m glad to have a brother, but man, sibling culture gets overrated. And also in response to the above comment, you aren’t guaranteed to get along with them or to have them help you with aging parents. Google “siblings not helping with parents” or similar terms. Some kids take POA without talking it over with anyone and shut other siblings out. Or the absentee siblings get angry at the primary caregiver sibling who decides to put the person in assisted living. I know there are plenty of wonderful larger families, but in reality it’s not all roses. I also hate it when parents force their kids to be friends.
Anyhow it’s odd, some only children wish they had siblings and some people from larger families wish they could escape the noise, lol.
We always want what we don’t have, right? Put people in any combination and you never know who is going to get along or work together well, whether they share the same blood or not. I’m grateful for my brother. He was a huge help before and after our father’s death, but I know siblings don’t necessarily work well together. Thanks for sharing this important reminder.
I’m the oldest of two sisters. I always wished I’d had an older brother… so he could introduce me to his cute friends. All the girls I knew who had older brothers assured me it did NOT work that way and that most of their brothers’ friends were idiots, lol. My sister & I were fairly close when we were little, less so as teenagers/young adults, but we’ve been getting along better again these last few years, as we deal with aging parents.
I always thought I’d have two children, maybe three. As the clock ticked down, I knew I’d be happy to settle for one, but that was not to be.
I know a lot of parents who have just one child get almost as much flack for that as we do for not having any. Sometimes it’s a choice, sometimes it’s just how things worked out, sometimes the parents went through a lot of infertility & losses to get that one child. It’s really nobody’s business!
Loribeth, you’re right. Parents of only one child do get a lot of flak, even though it’s nobody’s business. Thanks for sharing this.