I am an only child.
At this point, some who know me may crack wise about my reluctance to share dessert at a restaurant, or the unspoken but unwavering claim I lay to the remote controls in the apartment. Some may see being an only child as a bad thing. That it makes one...self-focused.
I think it makes one self-sufficient.
When I was a kid, I received a lot of board games as gifts. Multi-player games, like Sorry! and Parcheesi. And as an only child who hated other children, it was rare to find someone to play them with. I recall my Uncle Tommy playing with me, and I'm sure my parents must have, but mostly, I remember playing these games by myself. Or rather, with myself. Or maybe even against myself. At least I always won.
My husband is the youngest of three boys, and really appreciates having brothers. For me, the main appeal of having siblings would be to relieve some of the pressure of caring for aging parents. Having someone to consult/blame/cry to/drink with when the time comes to find a really good nursing home. (Mom and Dad, consider this "writer's embellishment.")
Our son is seven weeks old, and already people ask if we're planning on having another one. My knee-jerk response has been, "No, parenting is a young person's game," but then I gave it some serious thought. Yes, it takes an enormous amount of energy to tend to a newborn's needs, and one must function on very little sleep, two attributes that were at their height when I was in college. Also, recovery from childbirth- in my case, a c-section- is much more difficult than I expected, and a younger, firmer, more elastic body would likely have more success bouncing back.
But I did think about it. And I determined I was 89% certain that one child is plenty for us. My husband is 84% sure of the same. I'm more sure, so I win...even though we're on the same team.
Being an only child has its payoffs in adulthood, though.
OK, I can't think of many of them right now, but I CAN say that being an only child has allowed my imagination to flourish. Not just to flourish, but to...whatever is even more fabulous than flourishing.
Case in point: our son wakes up in the middle of the night, and it sometimes takes a bit of walking, bouncing, and singing to get him back to sleep. We have a nightlight in our bathroom that has what I initially considered to be a charming scene of animals camping.
But really, it's more than that.
Many a night I've explained to our child that the red fox in the sleeping bag had a little too much to drink, and doesn't even realize he's not sleeping inside the tent. The deer is helping him conceal it from the grey fox by hiding the empty wine bottle behind him. The poor grey fox has to do all the work, including gathering firewood, and will no doubt have to clean up that dirty plate (bottom left corner) and the unfinished can of beans outside the tent. The poor grey fox is so busy doing everyone's work, he's unable to hold his own marshmallow stick, and has to plant it in the ground, because the deer hasn't offered to help. The grey fox probably didn't even want to go camping in the first place.
See? You probably thought it was just some animals camping.
And you probably have siblings.