Bringing a baby into this world is no easy task. The first few months literally go by in a daze. But no sooner than erstwhile dazed, sleep deprived mothers start looking like they’re actually enjoying this motherhood thing, that we jump in, asking (often telling) them to start planning another baby.
Sharavati Choksi has had enough and writes about why she is perfectly content with just one child, and how it is the best way for her.
DISCLAIMER: I have one child. For now!
The thing is, questions never end. That is what my 37 years on this planet have proved.
As a child, I was asked, “what will you be when you grow up?”
When I chose English as an under-graduate study, I was asked, “Will you be a teacher?”
When I chose Journalism for my post-graduation, I was asked, “Is Barkha Dutt your hero?”
When I chose to do another Master’s at 23, live away from home and displayed no signs of getting married, little pieces of hell started breaking loose.
Finally, here I am: married and a mother of an almost four-year-old.
And the questions still haven’t stopped. No sooner had baby number 1 arrived that well meaning people already started asking me about baby number 2. Now that I have reclaimed my sleep and sanity (to a certain extent), I am clearer than ever before that my son will not have a sibling. It is not because I’m being selfish but to me it’s the right thing to do.
Without delving into a thousand “excuses”, let me address the biggest one. We live outside India, away from family support. That essentially means – no weekend grandparents visits, no cousin sleep-overs, no palming off the child for a few hours to an aunt nearby, etc. He has all our attention and I strongly believe, that is why he is truly a happy child. I am a single child too- maybe that is why I see similarities between what I felt growing up and how he is now.
A lot of research has been done proving the merits having siblings. I agree with almost all of those points, but have found ways to get those benefits into my life as well.
- Children tend to share better when they have siblings.
That is why I am very conscious that he shares with his friends, family and learns that sharing is a life-long habit.
- He will be spoilt.
Hell no! That is where our parenting comes into the picture. My husband and I are very careful about the frequency and the kinds of treats our son gets. In fact I feel I am on the “stricter” side of the spectrum when it comes to giving him things. He is rewarded with a meal outside or an ice-cream through good actions at school and overall behavior. We have been through some melt-downs of “buy me this” at shops but he knows that tears and demands don’t necessarily get him what he wants.
- I read somewhere that children are better at making friends when they have siblings. Perhaps. Although I am a single child and have absolutely no problem making friends. My son, too, is very social and keeps inviting his friends over every week. Sometimes the days of the week aren’t enough!
- Some people say my child will be bored and lonely.
Bored yes, lonely no! I am a firm believer that children need time to themselves to get “bored” because that lets them explore and get creative. Even as adults, don’t we all need some alone time to understand our thoughts better? Why do we look for a quiet corner to finish important work? Research shows that boredom in kids very often leads them to imagine and get creative. That, for me is a huge plus. My son makes up stories, regales us with his imagination and that cannot come without having some time to himself. For all the other times, he is quite entertained with activities and play dates!
Will my son be lonely? Aren’t we all sometimes? “Lonely” sounds worse than it is but being alone sometimes is connected with boredom, which like I said, is a blessing.
- What if we aren’t there anymore, who will take care of him?
This thought comes to mind very often and honestly, it worries me. That is why I am resolute that my child will grow up appreciating his friends and family. He should be surrounded by people he loves and who love him back. Nobody can predict the future but I hope I am raising him to be mentally and physically strong. Parents are irreplaceable for any child whether he/ she has a sibling but I wish he is able to find his feet despite excruciating emotional pain.
Honestly, my heart melts when I see a newborn. But there is something so complete about having just one child that it’s hard to explain. Even the idea of having another child vanishes when I see the happy boy in front of me.
Some say that I am selfish. I agree. I choose to do what I think is best for our family and if that is called being selfish, I am. It is very easy to judge and brand people. I just want to enjoy every bit of motherhood while raising a kind and compassionate human. Whether one child or four, we don’t know the kind of emotional, financial or physical compulsions some couples have to come to the decisions they do. So, instead of burdening ourselves and those around us, why not make the most of what we are blessed with.
Sharavati Choksi is a journalist turned entrepreneur, who is either chasing time or her almost 4-year-old.