You Heard Me: I Said I Was One and Done...

Untitled-design-2.png

I was once getting a manicure next to a woman who asked if I had children. At the time, I told her I had a one-year old boy. She then asked my favorite question most people follow that up with. “When are you having your next one?” I told her I wasn’t–that my husband and I decided one was enough and the right decision for our family–we were one and done. I don't even know why I felt like I had to justify my decision to a complete stranger. I guess I didn't want my response to be met with the usual, "You will change your mind." Or "What do your parents think? Don't they want lots of grandchildren?" "It's so much nicer for kids to have a sibling to play with." But she surprised me. She informed me she only had one son and that sometimes when you create a masterpiece, it doesn’t make any sense to paint over it. Thank you manicure lady for immediately accepting my choice and making me feel good about it! It doesn’t always happen like that.

In fact, most people respond with confusion, sometimes horror when they find out you are “one and done.” I love that phrase. It’s short and sweet and very blunt. It leaves no room for interpretation. Those people do not. Sometimes those people are strangers. Other times they are acquaintances and family members. All I can say, is that at the end of the day, you don’t know what it’s like to walk in my shoes–to live my life–to know what I need and what’s best for me. Only I know that, especially when it comes to motherhood. I also want to say that I am in no way promoting ”one and done” as the best or easiest parenthood choice. If you don’t want any kids or want to have two, three, even five kids, I think that’s incredible. Do it! It’s just not the right choice for me. And I have yet to come across any parenthood choice that is easy.

My closest friends know all the reasons why I’m not having any more children. It comes up in our conversations all the time. They never make me feel guilty. They never judge. They never try to convince me to change my mind. Sometimes, the remind me that one child suits me. Thank you all for that.

So now, three years after meeting the manicure lady,  I’m just going to put it all out there–because I think it’s so important for moms to feel empowered and confident in making the choices that are best for them–regardless of what others think and say–regardless of who the people are that are doing the thinking and saying.

I need more. This might be a controversial statement, but being a mom and a wife aren’t enough for me. I need more–something that is just mine, which I have found through writing and speaking about my experiences. My writing is my currency. It’s part of my identity outside of being a mom and wife. It has transformed me–makes me feel happier–connects me with amazing women and feeds my mind and spirit. Writing has become my second baby. I want to nurture that and give it the time it requires while enjoying, raising and being present for my first baby too.

Happy mom, happy baby. If mommy isn’t happy, there is no way baby is going to be happy. This is the reason I stopped breastfeeding on day 5. It’s the reason I went on and continue to take antidepressants. It’s why I have a part-time nanny, hire babysitters for date nights and girls’ nights and take solo trips occasionally. And it’s most definitely the biggest reason why I’m not having another child. I want to be the best mommy I can be to my son and part of that means taking care of my well-being. Therefore, I choose to give him a happy, healthy mommy rather than a sibling.

I want my marriage to last. I love my son to the moon and back, but he is not the sun in our marriage. My relationship with my husband comes first. We made a pact to live this way before we had Mason. Marriage is hard work and the work grows exponentially when you add kids to the mix. We have weekly date nights and take child-free vacations. I’m not going lie, child care is easier when there is only one tiny human to chase after. For us, we balance parenting and marriage by deciding to be a team of three. It’s just the dynamic that works for us.

I need consistent me time. I take mom breaks and I do so without guilt. I need to for my own sanity and survival. Every now and then I go away. Sometimes it’s for the night, other times for a long weekend. I usually go to New York City where I get to see my best friends, sisters, shop at my favorite stores, eat at my favorite restaurants, and take too many Soul Cycle classes. When I leave, my husband spends quality time with our son, is able to balance work and dad life, and I come back feeling renewed, recharged, and ready to be mommy again.

Airplanes fit us perfectly. Superficial I know, but an airplane row fits three people. In my world, that is mommy, daddy, and son. Mason goes in the middle with mommy and daddy on either side of him. iPads out, headphones on, and we are good to go.

I can’t start over again. When Mason turned one and I finally felt confident and happy as his mommy, I felt like I had come so far. I went through so much in that first year and I just knew I couldn’t go backwards. For me that meant no more pregnancies, no more infant stage, no more sleep training or bottles of formula. I just wanted to keep going forward, growing as Mason’s mommy as he continues to grow into a little person. I love to see and love on my mom friends’ new babies, but after about 30 minutes I’m over it and handing them back. I don’t have that feeling of “my uterus hurts” for more babies. My family feels complete.I still get anxiety when I find myself back at the maternity floor of the hospital visiting a friend who just gave birth. If that’s not a telling sign, I don’t know what is!

I battled postpartum depression. I’m putting this reason last on purpose. Many people assume this to be the number one reason why I choose not to have more children. While yes, I’m at a higher risk for having it again in future pregnancies, it’s a very small part of my decision. I am grateful for my PPD journey and who I am today because of it, but it is not something I want to experience again. It is not something I want to put my husband through again or my son especially now that he would be old enough to understand it more. I already missed so much of the first year of his life. I refuse to miss any more.

I’m sorry to everyone who might disagree with me here, doesn’t approve of my choices, or thinks I’m saying too much on the subject. Actually, thats a lie. It’s more like sorry, I’m not sorry. I can’t please everyone, just the most important one. Me! I’m just being real…and honest…and hoping it gives other moms the courage to do the same…no matter what choices they are making or struggling with.  And my baby who isn’t such a baby anymore isn’t going to just be fine. He’s developed into and independent, brave, strong, compassionate, opinionated, brilliant, and amazing little four-year old. Well duh! Of course he is–because I made him–and he is a masterpiece–and I’m his mommy!

Well He's An Only Child...

my_son_is_awesome_sticker-rfdb0460e067d464aa0945d03e1b9275c_v9w0n_8byvr_512.jpg

I have a three-year old son and sometimes he has tantrums. Sometimes he doesn't want to share with other children. Sometimes he melts down when you tell him it's time to stop playing or time to give someone else a turn. Sometimes he screams and yells when he doesn't want to leave the playground or the toy store. We negotiate when it's time to get dressed. We negotiate when when it's time to turn the TV off. We negotiate how many pieces of broccoli he has to eat at dinner time. Life these days is just your good old-fashioned power struggle. My son is also an angel when mommy isn't around--a model citizen--the perfect example of sweet and helpful--a good listener--a good sharer--one who follows directions. I swear his teachers think I'm lying when I say he tried to hit a little girl at a birthday party last weekend or threw every fake piece of food from his fake kitchen onto the floor this morning before school. Or how about the time he drew all over the family room walls with crayons? They say, "Not Mason," when I tell them about the constant battle that is getting him to clean up his toys. At school, he is the best helper--the first one to stop what he's doing to put toys away.

So what am I doing wrong? Does any of this sound familiar to you? If you have a threenager or even a terrible two-year old, I'm sure it does. Anytime I talk about these things with mom friends, they all tell me it's completely normal. Their kids act or used to act the same way at that age--behaving well for others, not as much for them. Getting pissed off when they don't feel like sharing. Overusing the word words: "No!" and "Not fair!" and "It's mine!" Laying on the floor face down, kicking their legs because you asked them to come to the table for dinner and they want to keep playing. So I don't really understand when other moms like to say, "Well he's an only child." WTF does that mean? WTF does that have to do with anything?

Are you saying that my child acts out in those ways simply because he's an only child? That he is selfish and bratty and spoiled? I won't argue with the spoiled part. He is the first and only grandchild on both sides. This means he has better clothes than his mommy and more toys than he could possibly know what to do with. It also means he is often the focus of everyone's attention at family gatherings because there isn't anyone else to share the focus with yet. So what? It's not his fault. It's not my fault because I chose not to have another baby.

He is also funny and kind, curious and compassionate, silly and very chatty. He participates and always wants to be involved in what you're doing. And do you know what else? He loves to help in the kitchen and is obsessed with cleaning supplies. He now makes his own pretend car wash at home by lining up all his planes, trains, and automobiles and wiping them down with damp paper towels. In fact, sometimes it's a power struggle because he wants to be the one doing the vacuuming. He is always asking to help. That doesn't sound very "only child-like" to me!

So when my son is somewhere playing and decides in that moment he doesn't feel like sharing the toy he is playing with but also wants the toy your child has, why can't he just be acting like a normal three-year old? Why do you feel the need to say, "Well he's an only child"? He might be acting like an asshole right now, but mommy's decision not to have any more children doesn't really factor in here. And I'm pretty sure I just saw your son push another girl in the sandbox and he has two siblings.

Mason goes to school everyday to a class of 15 other children. He goes to gym class on Tuesdays, swim lessons on Wednesdays, and soccer on Saturdays. He has playdates with our friends' kids. He might not be around other children all the time at home, but he is still exposed to lots of other kids. He shares and talks and holds hands and helps and cleans up. And sometimes he refuses to share, doesn't want to talk to anyone and refuses to pick up toys--just like your kid does. Yeah, your kid who has one or two, even three other siblings.

That's right. Your kid is around the same age as my kid. He has siblings. Wasn't that him just acting like an asshole over there? You know, the same way Mason did a few minutes ago. So I'll ask again. Why is being an only child relevant here? Your one of three children just ripped a toy out of my kid's hand. Oh and now he is wailing and kicking the floor because he doesn't want any one else to use his firetruck even though he wasn't playing with it at the moment.

So how about we leave the only child judgements out of it. Three-year olds can be tough no matter how many brothers and sisters they have. They have multiple personalities and sometimes you don't know which one you will get. Shouldn't we just embrace where they are at and teach them what's important regardless of how many people they share their home with?