There is a pressing issue I'd like to discuss with the legions of baby pushers out there, and it is this: only children. Since when is it appropriate to approach a complete stranger on the street, paw at their adorable two year old, and demand to know when more offspring are forthcoming? This happens to me on a regular basis, not to mention the assault by well-meaning coworkers, family members, and friends.
Let's be perfectly honest here - I'm not that great of a parent. I don't need to add another child to the mix to have the horrifying realization that we'd all be better off if I only had one. I can see it with my mind's eye quite clearly, and it's not a pretty picture. Right now I have all I can manage to keep my marriage, child, and personal agendas afloat. I'm happy with my small family, as is my husband. So why does this make me feel so guilty?
In a 2008 commentary, Carl Zimmerman examines the growing trend of only children. He points out that natural selection isn't just about having a lot of offspring. "The more offspring an animal has, the less energy it can give each one. If a hawk can't supply its chicks with enough food, they may not live long enough to have chicks of their own." Obviously, having another child isn't going to kill my first daughter. But what toll might it have on me?
I enjoy having time for things outside of childrearing. I've noticed that women seem to be defensive about their mothering - we want to make sure everyone knows we love being mothers and that our kids come first. News flash: this isn't anything to brag about. Of course my daughter comes first - she's two years old. She would die if I didn't put her first. That doesn't mean I don't want to be a close second.
In our constant need to validate ourselves, we attack the choices of other parents. I myself have been guilty of ragging on women who I think leave their kids too long at daycare, and alternately, those that spend too much time mothering. In the world of bitchy-ass women, you can never win.
One of the most irritating things about admitting to having an 'only' is the fear that people think I don't like being a parent. I find myself giving people this little speech about how I love being a mom and I want to focus on our one daughter. As if people assume I'm not happy with my baby because I don't want any more. And that's my own baggage.
I admire women who deftly manage three kids, a career, and a vivacious sex life with their admiring spouses. I'm just not that much of a go-getter. This isn't an attack on your choice, just a request to respect mine. So the next time you see someone with a gorgeous toddler, don't bug them. It might be me, and I'm too busy to talk to you - I'm with my daughter. I may not pass this way again, and I don't want to miss a thing.