To the Mother of an “Only Child”
Dear Sweet Mama,
I see you. I know you. I’m one of you.
I see you working hard, trying to do your best.
I see you struggling to paste on a smile and have a joyful voice.
I see you exhausted and out of ideas.
Other moms don’t know what it’s like to be us. They simply can’t relate.
Being the Mama of an only child is NOT something every mama can understand.
You are a constant playmate and entertainer for your child. There is no one else readily available to play with your child during the day within the confines of your house, unless it’s been prearranged. But even when you do have playdates (which are heaven-sent) you’re still entertaining.
I know you live with a sense of guilt. You feel guilty for wanting time alone. You have NO time alone…because you are your child’s constant entertainment, you have no alone time during the day. And when your husband gets home, HE needs your attention. Yet, you haven’t paid attention to yourself and your needs yet today.
I sympathize with the sense of guilt for forcing your child to play by themselves so you can get things done. Children are a blessing and we feel like we need to be with them EVERY.SINGLE.SECOND. But then the house work, yard work, laundry, cooking, etc, etc, etc, would never get done. You know you can’t just play with your child all day because you have other responsibilities to fulfill, but you feel guilty when you’re NOT playing with them.
Do I even need to mention how hard it is to establish and maintain an emotional balance with your kid? It’s easy to treat them like an adult, too mature beyond their years. It’s also incredibly easy to spoil them since they’re your only child. You don’t need to save money for other children or worry about not being fair. You only have one, so why not give them everything they want, right? Oh, dear Mama! I feel your pain. So how we establish that balance? How do we keep the playing field even with their friends, cousins, classmates, etc? I don’t know. I’m right there with you, struggling to find the answer.
I see you trying to be the PERFECT role model, striving to set the pristine example in every area of life because your child has no siblings to help model good behavior. You worry that the areas you struggle with will “rub off” on your child and leave them with no hope! You see other children excelling in different paths because they have older or younger siblings to guide them. And you feel helpless…hopeless.
Loving Mama, do I see your tears? Let me cry with you. Maybe you’re like me and never thought you’d only have one child. You dreamed of having a house full of giggling children only to have your dreams shattered by infertility or illness, either yours or theirs. Or maybe your only child is the result of an unexpected pregnancy. Does your heart break for your child, knowing that you can’t give them what you had so desperately hoped to be able to give them? I’m wiping my tears too.
For me, it’s not my choice to have only one child. I never know when a “first” may come nor when a “last” is approaching. I only have ONE SHOT at getting this “Mama” thing right. I have no other children to compare milestones. I will never know what a baby girl will look like. I will never experience birthing another baby and noting the differences. I will never get to see my son meet a younger sibling, although he asks for a baby brother (or sister) regularly. I know the heartache of telling him that it’s just not possible.
My dear friend, I know that breaks from school are hard. You want to cherish the time with your only child, but sometimes they drive you CRAZY and you wish they had someone to play with. And then when you get a routine established over Christmas break, they’re back to school for 5 months. The summer break seems endless yet flies by in the blink of an eye. You osculate between feeling blessed for being able to spend one-on-one time with your child and the feelings of pure desperation and exhaustion from pouring yourself out for them.
I know the pain of isolation. All of your mommy friends who have multiple kids are friends with other mommies who have multiple kids and you can’t relate to them. They talk about sibling rivalry, juggling multiple schedules, and the sheer joy of watching their children play together. Meanwhile, you try to cherish the time you see your child play with any other child. You go to the park, hoping they’ll find someone to run around with so that you don’t have to climb the monkey bars one more time. The prospect of adult interaction is PRICELESS and you would do just about anything to have it.
I see you, Mama. I hear you, Friend. I know your pain.
Know that you’re not alone. I’m praying for you.
The Mama of an Only Child