Monday, December 10, 2012

"When Are You Going To Have Another One?"

A recent tweet from someone I follow on Twitter got me started on the subject of having more children. My son is 5, he will be 6 in a couple of weeks, so the subject of only children comes up frequently in my life. The woman who mentioned it has a baby who is maybe 6 months old - and people are already asking her when she will have another - ridiculous! But let's start from the beginning. When you are young and dating, people constantly ask you when you are getting married. Or worse, when you are not dating and are a constant bridesmaid, suffering through the barrage of questions "So, when are you getting married?" My response was usually. "Well, I don't have a crystal ball, but if you find out be sure to let me know." So, you get married. Before the bouquet has been thrown, it begins again - "So, when are you going to have kids?" It never ends. When you do have a child, and said child is in the nursery, it develops into "So when are you going to have another one?"

 This is unless you are super lucky and have a Mother In Law like mine who flat out told me that I am not a "Real Mom" unless I have more than one child. She probably doesn't even remember saying it, but I do. It stung like a knife to the heart. I am a real mom, a loving mom, and in my son's eyes I am his hero. It didn't stop with her, though. My husband wanted another child, because in his eyes that was how it was supposed to be. But I wasn't ready. We were living in a dump town in West Texas, I was busy enough with my son who at the time was 2, and I was not about to have another child "just because he needed a sibling". What good is a mom who is already at her wit's end with one in a terrible place trying to take care of a newborn? I would never EVER have a child just so my son could have someone to play with. Each child that comes into this earth deserves a mom who is present, doing her best, and is able to devote her time and energy. I'm fine with one. I like knowing that I will never change another diaper. At the same time, I know that if I ever decide to have another child (doubtful), it will be because I was ready, and I decided that I would love to welcome another child into the world. Not because somebody told me I needed to.

 A couple of years ago I read this article in Time, a magazine I don't normally read.  And in that article I found concrete validation.  You see, my son has no dilution of resources, a phrase I have come to use often. He has a mom who stays home, goes to private school, which is important in Las Vegas, as we have the worst schools in the nation, and my full attention. I'm not sure I could say that if I had several children. My favorite part of the article was this: "olit conducted a meta-analysis of 115 studies of only children from 1925 onward that considered developmental outcomes of adjustment, character, sociability, achievement and intelligence. The studies, mainly from the U.S., cut across class and race. Generally, those studies showed that singletons aren't measurably different from other kids — except that they, along with firstborns and people who have only one sibling, score higher in of intelligence and achievement."

One day at work, (yes, I have been both a stay at home mom and a working mom)
a co-worker was telling me how a friend was in town and that she could tell he was an only child because he was self centered, particular, and basically not so fun to be around.  "Everything has to be his way" she said.  The funny thing is that she was basically describing herself, yet despite my urge to say "So, you are an only child?" I refrained.  She was in the middle of planning a wedding, and my first thought was not anger, as she said those words to me, someone she knew had an only child, it was pity.  Pity for the fact that she may one day only have one child.  How sad is that to have a mother who thinks that only children are destined to live self centered, horrific lives?

I know better.  I know that my son is well adjusted and happy.  Here is the difference between women with one child and women and men who think that you have to have more to justify your child's existence.  I don't care how many children you have!!  It does not affect me.  So please don't concern yourself with how many children I have.  If you have the balls to say to a woman "when are you going to have more?", why don't you think before you speak.  The woman you say that to may have spent years trying to conceive the one precious child she has.  She may have lost her husband.  She may be just like me, a woman who had a stillborn daughter and is scared to death every time she is pregnant that it might end in a funeral.  When you say "every child needs a sibling" to a woman who may not be able to have more children, you might just be breaking her heart. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Oh, Christmas Tree

It's that time of year, when we all take out, cut down, or buy our Christmas trees, decorate them, and post on Facebook for the world to see. Let me first say that I love the department store look - the white lights, burgundy ribbons, gold ornaments; all perfectly placed on a perfect tree that looks like it came out of a showroom. When I go over to a friends house and see a perfect tree like that I marvel at how together she is, how perfect it looks, and sometimes think "someday I will have a tree like that". You know those friends - their houses are perfectly staged with garland twinkling with little white lights, poinsettias on the stairs, every perfect icicle light outside hung at just the right angle. I love it. My love only goes so far; however, because I love my colored lights and handmade ornaments more. Every year I untangle my 1,000 lights, assemble my tree and fight with both until I am staring at a blaze of glory - a tree that has more lights than actual branches, in all of the pretty colors. THAT is Christmas to me. As a child, a big part of the magic of Christmas was unwrapping each and every ornament from old, worn out tissue paper, admiring it and having it bring back memories before hanging it on the tree. That is what I want for my son. Not a memory of a perfect tree full of ornaments with no sentimental value other than how much they cost or how the colors are coordinated with the ribbon. Perhaps the most hideous example of how I decorate the tree is a particular stuffed duck ornament my husband bought the year my son was born. Yes, I said a stuffed duck. It is yellow and crazy looking, and when pressed it quacks out "Joy To The World". I kid you not. This thing looks so ridiculous, but it has become such a tradition in our house that even family members ask about it. It would not be Christmas without that duck on the tree. You see, traditions are what matter at Christmas, not how well your home would fit into a magazine. Although next year I am going to get a second tree to decorate department store style. As I said, I do love the look of them, just not for the family tree.
This also brings me to my thoughts about the outside of the house. We haven't hung lights outside due to the fact that my husband works out of state and I am smart enough to know that getting on a ladder with lights is probably not in my best interest. This year, however, I was bound and determined, so I put out a plea to "borrow a husband" to hang lights. Luckily, a friend volunteered to do it and he is coming over this week. But what should I do - perfect white icicle lights or old fashioned colored bulb lights? I am going with the traditional ones, so I can see the blue, red, and green festive colors in all of their glory. I love the icicle lights, but it goes back to the same thing as the Christmas tree - when you are driving around looking at lights, can you imagine if every house had the same stinking clear lights? How boring would that be? There are enough perfect homes in my neighborhood with them, so I think I have the right to go the traditional route. That and I know of one particular 5 year old who doesn't notice the perfect icicle lights, but yells "slow down!!" when I drive by a house with the multicolored ones. And he is the reason I am putting them up. This way, he can have magical memories of a Christmas tree that is filled with construction paper ornaments, multicolored lights, and a house that is decorated not perfectly, but memorably.