I never thought I’d have an only child, it wasn’t in the plan. As I’ve mentioned before I was lucky that I fell pregnant really quickly with my son, aged 40, and it didn’t cross my mind that that wouldn’t happen again. It took a lot longer the second time and then I had a miscarriage and made the decision that as I’d be at least 44 before I would then have another child, that I should just be content to have the happy, healthy child I did have. It was a hard decision to make, but I’d spent so much time wishing I was pregnant again, or dealing with the aftermath of the miscarriage, I realised that I wasn’t actually concentrating on my son. The child who was actually here. I had the only child conversation in my head, and decided that one was the way forward, and once that decision had been made, I felt so much better.
My son was only little when I had my miscarriage, although the poor boy had to come with us to the hospital when I was admitted. I’ve always been honest with him about what happened and why he is my one and only. He talks quite openly about his brother or sister that lives in heaven, the sibling that wasn’t born. The baby that never got to be met in the real world.
The only child conversation doesn’t pop up too often with my son. There was a time when he would ask if he could have a brother or sister, mainly a brother. But as soon as I mentioned the concept of sharing toys the whole idea went out of his head again. It’s not a conversation we have had in quite some time really. Then out of the blue he brought it up again at the weekend. Mummy where would my brother or sister sleep? I wouldn’t share my bedroom. Mummy I don’t think I really want a brother or sister. I wouldn’t want to have to share with them, they would annoy me. Mummy, imagine if they didn’t like trains! What we do then? No I don’t think I’d want a brother or sister Mummy.
My son looks at the situation very much in the here and now. He has no concept that his life would have been very different for years if he’d had a sibling. He’d have had to compromise on activities, our time, space, in so many other ways. He doesn’t have a concept of having someone who is there to play with, talk to, and yes argue with, all the time. He doesn’t realise that unless or until me meets ‘someone special’ that he’ll be alone in the world, if and when we aren’t there. He’s nine, so it’s not even on his radar to think about. But it is something that goes around in my mind a lot when I’m having the only child conversation in my head.
I guess you can’t miss what you’ve never had but it doesn’t stop me worrying about the future for him. Who will be there to support him when we are not. There will be no one to share memories with of his childhood, no one to reminisce with about past adventures. No one to look at old photos and be the one to say do you remember when we did this? No, you’ve got that wrong, it was such and such. I guess as I’m getting older and with parents myself that are in their mid to late seventies, I worry for my son about the emotional strain to come at some point in the future. Hopefully in years to come, but there will be a time when he’ll need to make arrangements when we’ve gone, it will all be down to him. There will be no one to share the burden. That makes me sad and guilty but there’s nothing to be done, nothing to change, it is what it is.
But perhaps I’m just feeling a little maudlin on a cold January day. Perhaps I need to have the only child conversation again with myself. Spend time reminding myself of the positives to having only one child to consider. spend more time in the here and now, and less worrying about the future and things I cannot change.