When I first read “8 Things Never to Say to a Mom of an Only Child”, at the Huffington Post, I thought, “Wow. She sounds angry.” To the author’s credit, the post stayed with me, but probably not in the way it should have. It ticked me off. While I generally write posts about the lighter side of parenting, I thought this was a good time to add to my No Laughing Matter category and draft a response.
Ms. Murray’s post was published by the Huffington Post and among other resume highlights she is a regular contributor to The Stir, both of which are on my dream publication list; clearly she is doing something right. This latest post just didn’t sit well with me.
Rebuttal to 8 Things Never to Say to a Mom of an Only Child.
In regards to insensitive comments from other people, the post is spot on.
“When are you having another baby?”
“Every child needs a brother or sister.”
“Don’t you want to try for a girl/boy?”
“Are you trying for another one?”
All of these are insensitive and absolutely none of anyone’s business. However, they are not unique to mom’s of only children. Just because you have more than one child, doesn’t mean these questions stop. Have 2 girls? Everyone wants to know if you are going to try for a boy. One of each sex? People ask if you want to try for more so that the kids will have someone of their own sex to play with. Have 3? People want to know if you are going for an even 4 – you already have the van and all the toys and clothes you would need. Just because a mom has 2 or 3 or 4 children, it doesn’t mean that is where she elected to stop either.
Questioning someone’s procreation choices can be perceived as intrusive and rude. Whether these questions are posed to the mom of an only child or multiple children is of no consequence.
“Oh, you ‘don’t know’ cause you haven’t had your second one yet.”
Yes, moms of only children are moms too. When I had one child my days were full doing all things mom. I couldn’t imagine anything different. I was busy, tired and fulfilled. Now that I have two, these things haven’t changed, but in comparison to how I felt before, I am definitely more tired and busy now. A mom is a mom is a mom. But no matter how you look at it, 2, 3, 4 (etc) is more than 1. Three sick children throw up three times more in the night than one does.
“You’re so lucky you can [fill in the blank] because you’ve got only one kid.”
One. None. That N makes all the difference. Yes, one is more than none. And 2 is twice as many as 1, 3 is 3 times as many, 4 is…well, you get the picture. All the items listed under this point are accurate. Now multiply it by the number of children you have. Do you know why people of more than one child say this? Because we have had one and are aware that our workload since having more than one has escalated. I don’t resent people with more than two children, I am in awe of them. I think, “Wow, they are doing [x] and have 4 children. Holy crap”.
“Well. It’s easy for you to be in shape because you were only pregnant once.”
This one really made me laugh. The commentary is accurate – eating well and exercising is what is important. When I had one child I would workout when he napped. Now, when one naps, the other one is up and vice versa. My exercise is now relegated to 6 am, 9 pm, or at a gym with a child-care option. Can I still fit exercise in to my day? Absolutely. But it has become more difficult to do so than when I had one.
“It’s so hard with three kids.”
I have two children. I have friends with three. Hands down, their lives are infinitely more complex than mine. The examples the author cites in a, b and c have nothing to do with the number of children one has.
I am not sure what A is referring to – perhaps it means that the three children are at home with the other parent? A parent of an only child can leave their child with their partner too. If there is no partner, then we are not talking about the mom of an only child, we are talking about a single mom of an only child, which is a different conversation. B is an economics / choice issue, not a number of children one. I know people with one child who have a nanny. C Again, this is an economics / choice issue, not a numbers one. Lots of moms of only children go away for weekends for a break. This is an issue of having someone you feel comfortable leaving your child/ren with while you get a break, not the number of children you have to leave.
My final bit of advice? The number of children you have does not define you as a mom. How you raise them, treat them, and love them does. Let’s focus on that.