(This was originally published on January 29, 2019 by Nikki Nienhaus of Seasons of Life Chiropractor. Found HERE. It was modified and published as a Guest Blog on A Mom Around Town July 10th, 2019)
The Choice to Only Have one
If you know me, you know that I do not plan on having any more babies. I love my little Lorelai with everything in me, but if having a baby has taught me anything, its that I’m only cut out to be a mother to ONE CHILD. Seriously. I always thought I’d rock this mommy thing and that mom-ing would come so easily to me. In college, my friends and I once took a poll and I was voted most likely to have kids first. (Turns out, I was last!) I dreamed of having a whole gaggle of children, and I just knew that I would never get tired of playing with them and reading to them and just being with them. I would love being a mother and it was all I would ever need in my life.
I dreamed of being a mom for as long as I can remember. I had a wonderful role model in my mother, and she made mom-ing look so easy. I wanted to grow up to be just like her. I spent my childhood (and let’s be honest, most of my adulthood too) mothering anyone and everyone who would let me mother them. I played school with my friends and was always the teacher. I nursed my baby dolls back to health. I dated guys who wanted a mom, not a girlfriend (insert eye roll here). When my friends started having kids, I begged them to let me babysit, and I loved those kids like they were my own (or so I thought). I lived my life with one goal in mind – to become a mother.
So when Kyle and I decided to start our family, there was nothing but anticipation and joy in my heart. I just KNEW I’d be good at this whole mom thing. I was made to mother.
Imagine my horror then, when my adorable little bundle of joy arrived and I did not immediately LOVE being a mom.
Now don’t get me wrong, I immediately and unreservedly loved my daughter from the moment that she was born. But I didn’t immediately love motherhood. It didn’t come to me naturally. I struggled with giving up my sleep and with being touched out every day. I struggled with a baby that cried non-stop for hours. I struggled with not having time to myself anymore EVER. I struggled with juggling being a mom and a wife and a sister/daughter/friend. I seriously struggled.
Where was the unending patience I had imagined I would have? Where was the feeling of peace and love and joy that I was promised? I felt so much resentment, and with that came guilt, because it definitely wasn’t my daughter’s fault that I couldn’t be the mother she deserved. Those first few months of motherhood were dark ones for me, friends. I learned more about myself than I ever wanted to know. It wasn’t pretty. Turns out a lot of my self-worth was wrapped up in my ability to be the world’s best mom, and to love being that awesome mom. And I wasn’t, and I didn’t. So where did that leave me?
I started having to get really honest with myself about what I could handle. I had to start asking for help, something I’ve never been good at. And I had to take a really long hard look at what the future of our family looked like. Because if I had learned anything, it was that under no circumstances was I going to have a gaggle of children. Some days, I still can’t even handle the one I have. Give me any more, and its possible I will be reduced to weeping on the floor of the shower while my kids knock on the door screaming “MOMMY!!!” all day.
So I talked to Kyle about the fact that now that I know what being a mom is like, I don’t think I want any more children. He had seen me struggle with becoming a mom. He knew first hand how crazy it had made me in the beginning. And he actually agreed with me. And so the decision for Lorelai to be an only child was made.
I don’t know if you have kids, but if you do, you’ve probably been asked when you’re having more.
If you don’t have kids but are in a committed relationship, you’ve probably been asked when you’re having kids at all. There’s a whole different post I could write about how rude those questions are, and how you should SERIOUSLY NEVER ASK SOMEONE WHEN THEY ARE HAVING KIDS, NEVER EVER EVER but that’s not what I’m talking about today. What I am talking about is the whole list of “advice” I’ve been given by everyone in my life when I tell them we’re only having one child. Most of these people are well meaning and honestly concerned for our family when they say these things, but what I ultimately hear from them is only judgement. My choices are not the right ones because they would choose differently.
“You don’t want her to be an only child!” they say.
“She’ll end up…. (insert your chosen flaw here – selfish, lonely, unable to play with others, antisocial, etc)”
“What will she do someday when you’re gone? She’ll have no one!”
“What if she doesn’t want to take care of you when you’re old? Who will you rely on?”
The list goes on and on. And I’m not gonna lie, I ask myself these questions too. The what ifs and the mom guilt get to me some times. When I watched Lorelai play with her cousin at Christmas, I wondered “are we making the right choice?” But then I think to myself, we can’t have another child simply because society thinks that is what would be best for us. How does society know? They don’t live in my house. They don’t feel the anxiety I live with from being responsible for raising this human. They don’t see me cry from the sheer overwhelm I’m feeling from having shared my body with another human for 3 years now. They aren’t me.
I have faith in my daughter’s ability to make friends that become family, so that she won’t be lonely when she is grown and I am gone. I have faith in her ability to learn to share and to not be selfish, even if she has her own bathroom her whole life. I have faith in my ability to teach her these life skills, even if she stays an only child. I have faith that she will want to care for me when I am old, and if she doesn’t, then I will pay someone to do it instead.
Becoming a mother has taught me that there is no surer way to break a woman down and rebuild her into a completely new person than to make her a mother. And this new person is learning what her limits are. I am learning that to be the best mother I can be, I must embrace the fact that my limit is one child. I am a great mother to the one child that I have, and that is enough for me. I’m sure people will continue to encourage (**pressure**) us to have more children. But I know deep down that we have made the right decision for our family. And I will rest in that assuredness. And I will snuggle my darling girl tonight and be so so so so thankful that she is the only one.
Dr. Nikki Nienhaus is a chiropractor, specializing in pregnancy and pediatric care. She has a passion for helping women get pregnant and finding their inner badass! You can see more from her on A Mom Around Town or Seasons of Life Chiropractic.