It's a look I get...first disbelief, then a sort of smile, then that's wiped off, so I then get a sad little shake of the head. Yes, just like Liz Hurley, I am that mother who puts her own feelings first and deprives my child of siblings!
My daughter's birth was amazing, I couldn't have asked for better. She was a beautiful, chubby baby who, yes, did have colic and all the usual gripes. She also didn't sleep much, but then babies don't, do they? And I loved her (nearly) straightaway. But then the sleep got worse, she stopped eating, lost weight and turned very pale. And she remained that way- small, pale and delicate- from 4 months up to 14 months. Until we stopped giving her gluten. Then it turned out there were a load of other foods that were stopping her sleeping.
We have finally got her sleeping through (aged 3 and a half), well until 12, then 3, then she's in our bed whilst dad sleeps on the floor, but it's still an improvement from our all time low of 15 times a night!
There was a time when she weirdly slept through for three weeks in and amongst this, and I began to think about having another (my husband was horrified), but then she returned to her old night frolics and there was just no way on this earth I could face another.
Me and my husband waited a long time before we decided to have kid(s). 18 years to be precise. So I was a bit older than Liz when I got started- I was obviously having more fun...
I was also more tired, and my husband, who is 14 years older than me, was 14 years more tired (that's his story anyway).
Oppression Of Only Children?
Having a child has given me so much more confidence. I feel completely whole for the first time in my life. I'm good with me and wake up happy and excited to be alive. How much of a gift is that for my daughter? I love what I do, and share my passion for work with her, I enjoy being able to give her my full attention when I'm with her and then to focus on me when I'm not. It's a choice that works for us. Maybe your choices work better for you. I haven't yet shaken my head (whilst hissing through my teeth) at friends having ANOTHER baby... However, I do note that there is a National Only Child Day group on FB:'National Only Child Day celebrates the only children of this world and our historic struggle against fear, injustice, and oppression.' Can we parents of only children join the ranks of the oppressed? Seemingly attracting open house on personal comments about our family planning (or over-planning).
I grew up in a family with two other siblings and, whilst I adore them, we were always in competition with each other for our parents' affections. My sister's speciality was nipping: mine was biting...each other. It shaped my character in ways that I haven't always liked (I couldn't possibly comment on my siblings' character shaping!) and left me hungry for attention in ways that didn't always turn out well in my teenage years.
So, girly will have to be that kid who asks if she can play. At aged three she already has no problem with this. She has observed from birth both parents striking up warm conversations with randoms wherever we are (hey, we're from Yorkshire), and will happily talk about the weather and long train waits with whoever sits next to her (in a casual, slightly bored 'I do this everyday' voice). She grows and develops every time she has to navigate friendship groups that she feels outside of. And her confidence is not lacking I can assure you.
She may run the risk of being spoilt. She may be precocious (oops, too late for that...she's being brought up by me), but she will be given many opportunities to socialise, to make true friends and to know that the world is a big and beautiful place. Which is more than I'm getting at the moment, I can assure you: this week, I am mostly voicing Captain Barnacles and Kwazi in a sad attempt to replace the sibling she has never had.
Jess Summers-Jackson is a hypnotherapist and hypnobirther (CHBP) based in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire. This September she is running the north's first 'Luxury Hypnobirthing Retreat' that puts dads' needs into the mix!
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