An Only Child

When D would tell me he wanted a little sister or brother I felt sad and guilty.  Sadness because my interpretation of D wanting a sibling meant he was lonely.  And guilt was saying, "You went into parenthood knowing he would be an only child. It's your fault he is missing something vital in his life."

It made me wonder "Lord, are we supposed to adopt another child?"  Is he missing out on something vital?    

He used to talk about it almost daily, now it's down to once or twice a week.  The other morning at breakfast D said, "Mom, I want us to be a family of five."  (It used to just be a sister, now he wants a brother and a sister and has names picked out for them.)

Knowing that we are a permanent family of three, and not wanting to get D's hopes up, I always remind him, "I don't think there's gonna be any more kids in our family D."  (Of course he always refutes that.)  

I asked him questions about being a big brother.

"I would teach them to read since I'm a such a good reader. And I'd help them do other things." 

"You would be such a great big brother."  

In the back of my mind the fix-it part of me analyzed his answers:  he wants to teach them to read, he wants to help them do sounds like he wants to be a big brother so he can teach and help...hmmm I really need to find something he can do to help younger read stories to them...ok, I thought of that before why didn't it ever happen? I really need to pursue that.

But somewhere between my analysis and D finishing breakfast, my mind relaxed.  The analyzing stopped.  Sadness and guilt left.  I started to simply see the beauty in D's musings of being a big brother.  Stop explaining to D that there won't be more kids in our family, I thought.  Stop trying to fix it.  Nothing is broken.  We are a family of three.

Yes, D reading nursery rhymes to younger kids is a great idea for several reasons but I doubt it will satisfy the desire he has to be a big brother.  And that's okay. His wanting to be a big brother doesn't mean he's lonely. Nor is it a sign that we're to enlarge our family. 

We've always pretty much known that D would be the one and only. It was a surprise to me when he started talking about wanting a sister and brother (he gets so much attention from us...what are we doing wrong?).  Even though it made me question if we were to add to our family, I knew that wasn't a reason to start adoption proceedings for another child. 

I think the guilt for parents of an only child is common, but when you know and understand that your family with one child is a blessing and just the way God designed it, the guilt goes away.

That particular morning, God interrupted my thoughts to help me see what He sees.  I interpreted my son's desire to mean that something was missing or wrong because he wanted to be a big brother.  Well, God showed me to enjoy his thoughts about being a big brother rather than see them as something missing or wrong with his life.  Nothing is missing.  Nothing is wrong. We are a complete family of three. 

If you, too, know you are meant to be a mom of only one, but struggle with guilt, may you embrace the completeness of your family and see the simple beauty in your child wanting to be a big brother or sister rather than interpret it as something that needs fixing.

Lisa Butwell