Friday, May 9, 2008

Only Child

The Boy is an only child. Before we had him, The Man and I thought we would have three kids. He was an only child and I didn’t really like that – I have no brother-in-law or sister-in-law and our kid would never have an aunt or uncle or cousins from The Man’s side of the family.

I had (have) a brother and I definitely did (do) not like that. I speak of him in the past tense because we have not spoken in nearly nine years and even then it was stilted and unwanted conversation. I don’t really count him as part of our family anymore. THIS is a story for another day. The point is that I did not like having one brother.

I grew up with lots of aunts, uncles and cousins and I loved it so I am sad that we are not able to provide The Boy with that kind of environment. By having three children I felt we could create a greater opportunity for him to provide his future family with that type of atmosphere if he so chose.

We were naïve, but we thought it would be great to have two boys and a girl, the girl in the middle. We had names picked out for each of them, decided how each one would look physically, what kind of personalities they would have, and what they would be when they grew up.

Then we had The Boy, a.k.a. THE NUCLEAR BOMB. Oh my gosh we didn’t know what we were doing with this baby. He very near killed both of us and our marriage. I’m not blaming our marriage problems on him and I’m sure that even if we had been more prepared or never had him at all that we would have come across these problems eventually. But The Boy was the catalyst.

We both agreed very soon after he was born that we would NOT BE HAVING MORE CHILDREN. Everyone said, Oh when are you going to have another one?, You’ll change your mind, and my personal favorite, You’ll forget about all of this. YEAH RIGHT. I’ll forget about my near death experience due to sleep deprivation and being on the verge of the ruination of my marriage? I don’t think so.

Neither of us has changed our mind. Sure, I’ve seen babies and said, Honey I want another baby and those times would continue for up to a couple of weeks. I would eventually come to my senses and realize that I truly did not want to have my own baby; really I just wanted to hold and smell someone else’s baby and then give it back. There’s a big difference.

Then I read this, and I wonder if we are doing the right thing.

The Man is very strong and independent and I wouldn’t say that he is close to his parents or that he relies on them for anything. He likes them, sure. This is going to sound very harsh, but I don’t think it is going to be too hard on him when they die. Yes, he will be saddened by their death, but he will rely on my support to get him through whatever tough times and then I think he will be okay. I don’t feel that he would be better off if he had a sibling to share with him in the grieving.

It will be more difficult on me when my parents die than it will be for The Man when his parents die. I will heavily depend on The Man to help me through those times. Since my brother and I are not close, I am not any better off to have a sibling in this situation. We will not be sharing in the mourning.

My dad’s family, who provided all the aunts, uncles, and cousins, are no longer close. There was an event that destroyed everything, and we no longer spend time with them. I miss it greatly and I often wish those relationships could be restored.

I don't know if I am shielding my son from the pain and heartache that families can bring upon each other. Perhaps because he will never be familiar with what it is like to be part of a large family, he will not know what he is potentially missing out on. I do know what is being missed, since I did experience the joys of being part of a large family. If I had never been part of that family, maybe I wouldn’t feel any void or longing for those types of relationships.

And for now, The Boy seems satisfied to remain the center of attention, the only grandchild on both sides. He has never asked for a sibling. I can only hope that he will be blessed with strength like The Man’s and the support of a loving wife to get him through life’s trials when we are no longer available to him. Until then, I hope that we will always remain a solid family unit.


Kelvin Kao said...

China has a population problem, and in order to deal with that, they came up with the policy that each couple (unless in certain exceptions) is only allowed to have one child. This gradually produced a generation of only childs. In another ten or twenty years, you are going to have children that don't know what it's like to have uncles and aunts. (Not immediate ones, anyway. They can probably still have distant ones.) What would that be like? I am curious to find out.