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Yes, We’re Only Having One Child, No, We’re Not Monsters

The British are a polite people.

The kind that, when the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse come a-calling, will form a nice orderly queue for their dose of pestilence and slaughter.

Several will bring a flask of tea and some sandwiches.

But tell them that you’re only planning on having the one child and all cordiality is flung out of the window.

“Cruelty!” They cry. “Wicked!” They chorus. “Barbarism!” they explete, consulting a thesaurus whilst pointing pitchforks at the womb you’ve put up for early retirement.

But it’s true. Our son is to be an only child.

Most people prefer to presume some underlying medical reason for this decision.

Eggs so far past their sell-by date, the Lion mark has spent its ninth life?

I’m no spring chicken, but nowadays it ain’t ovum until the menopausal lady sings.

First pregnancy so fraught with difficulties, you’d be endangering the pair of you if you went again?

Sorry, nope. The biggest complication I had with number one was a stubborn number two that literally blocked the boy’s entrance to the world.

Relationship on the verge of collapse due to the unrelenting demands of a baby? Nah. We’re having a vomit-inducingly good time of being parents.

No. For us it’s pure selfishness.

We want to avoid going deeper into debt by needing a bigger house or car.*

[*You just have to trust me on this – we would need them.]

We want to avoid working in high-earning jobs we don’t love to pay off said debt.

We want to avoid being unhappy.

And we believe the latter is a far, far greater gift for our son than any sibling would prove to be.

Oh, and it’s nice to once again have a pelvic floor rather than a wet patch on the floor.

Now I can guess at a few of the counter arguments some of you may be formulating as you read this, pitchforks in hand. I’ve been through them myself.

Some people are concerned that our son will become ‘spoiled’ if all the attention is on him.

I personally believe it’s impossible to spoil a child with attention. But it is infinitely possible to spoil them with material things, bad parenting and a shitty upbringing.

But just in case, we have this week invested £0.99p (plus postage) on a second-hand Tamagotchi off eBay. What with the feeding, discipline and cleaning up its pixellated poos, Edgar barely gets a look in.

Some say he’ll be lonely growing up.

Now this may come as a surprise, but it IS possible to socialise a child without having to actually gestate a mate for them.

Besides, how many of us grew up with siblings we couldn’t stand the sight of?

I have still not forgiven my sister for throwing Katrina Christabella (my beloved Cabbage Patch Kid) down the stairs, or for being able to tan well.

And in turn she has been unable to forgive me for trying to kill her that ONE time.

Some have noted that when we are gone, Edgar will have no-one else with whom to talk about ‘mom and dad’.

But this is (hopefully) many years off in the future.

By then he’ll have our re-animated heads in jars on the hover-mantelpiece from where we can dispense sage advice like ‘any chance you can think-turn the fire down, we’re boiling’.

Even given existing technology, no-one needs siblings to be able to recall treasured family memories. It’s all there, minute by minute, across every social media platform conceivable.

Like that time he wore a hat. Or when we ate that sandwich. Or when his dad liked a photo of someone with a cat beard.

Perhaps the most common generalisation is that only children grow up to be maladjusted weirdos, incapable of forming meaningful relationships or feeling empathy.

You know, like Jesus.

Because God only had the one didn’t he? And he’s all-knowing and that.

It’s probably just as well Jesus was an only. That’s a tough act to follow in sibling terms.

Mary: “So Jesus, what did you do today?”

Jesus: “Oh, you know, cured the sick, healed the lame, the usual.”

Mary: “And you little Jimmy?”

Jimmy: “I wished I’d never been born.”

By contrast, some of the most evil people in history have been one of several offspring. Like Hitler. Ted Bundy. And Simon Cowell.

And yes, I realise it’s not scientific, but one sweeping generalisation deserves another, right?

The fact is, for every bossy, selfish, needy only child, there’s a bossy, selfish, needy one with siblings who presumably should know better.

And as almost half of families in the UK choose to have just one kid, research studies have demonstrated that only children are no different really.

As always, there are two sides to every argument.

Unless you’re an only child, that is.

The great thing about imaginary siblings is they don’t answer back.


35 Responses to “Yes, We’re Only Having One Child, No, We’re Not Monsters”
  1. I’ve only recently found your blog but am really enjoying reading :-) I can’t see why it’s for anyone else to have a view on how many children you decide to have, provided you’re looking after them! End of :-)

  2. Sam says:

    What nut job is trying to dictate how many kids you have?? You can almost guarantee whoever it is is the parent of more than one child themself and trying to drag you into the misery of what is 2 (or more) pre-k hell! I should know – I’m in it myself right now..actually its lovely, give it a go? (Only kidding!). I think its admirable that you are doing your bit to calm over-population. I get on well with my sister personally but my husband’s parents were both only children and to compensate they had two themselves. Bad idea – him and his sister hate each other!

    • raisingedgar says:

      Ha, thanks Sam. Yes, it’s good to know Attenborough is onside, even if some of the family aren’t.

  3. Eeh Bah Mum says:

    What is it with people asking why all the time? Why did you have 2 children? Why do you not have children? why? why? I don’t know why I just did it….

  4. Rebecca says:

    We get those comments too – in our case it is medical reasons but why the heck should I have to tell a random woman in the playground about the state of my uterus so that she’ll stop judging me? None of her beeswax.

    (One tiny point – Jesus was not an only child – he had half-siblings. If you believe Joseph was his father rather than God then they were full siblings of course… But his brothers and sisters get mentions in the Bible. I believe Gandhi had three siblings but might be wrong on that).

    • raisingedgar says:

      Ooh, re Ghandi, that’ll teach me to believe everything I read on t’internet. Thanks Rebecca. I’ve tweaked accordingly. Although, purely for the purposes of the gag, I’m sticking with the ‘perpetual virginity’ argument on the Jesus front 😉

  5. Soopy says:

    I’m a happy mum of an only 8 year old daughter. It’s been a ball so far. She is frighteningly well adjusted and…well…nice. I keep waiting for the head to start spinning 360 but so far. All. Is. Well.

    • raisingedgar says:

      Thanks Soopy. It really does come down to whether you’re all having a good time, right?

  6. Alex says:

    We’re still undecided, but I love this post. A lot of the reasons I often think “maybe not” are listed here, and I just don’t think it’s unreasonable to say “it’s not that I couldn’t manage, but it might just be that I don’t WANT to MANAGE”.

    Sigh. I guess we’re both irredeemably awful people. 😉

    • raisingedgar says:

      Yep. I don’t get the whole ‘have more kids to have to work harder and spend less time with the kids you do have’ thing. But then I don’t really get the ‘work work work cruise die’ thing either. All seems such a wonky way of living your life. But that’s for another post…

  7. NotTreadingGrapes says:

    As the only daughter of an only child, and owning only the one myself, your post really resonates. I’m fortunate (sort of, though I sometimes wonder…) to live in Italy where, strangely, onlies are much more common than in the UK, so although lots of traditional old granny types tut at me not having another 4 at home, the majority of people don’t even comment. Siblings/DNA- pah,- nothing more than accidental biological soup at the end of the day….

    • raisingedgar says:

      Ha. “You can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your biological soup mix.” Love it!

  8. meeshie says:

    Eh… it’s a personal choice. I’m holding off a final decision but with a six month old at the boob and starting a 3 year schooling for a whole new career all at 37 years old…. I likely will not have the time to have another child. And that’s okay.
    Maybe I’ll change my mind in two years or so but either way it’ll be my choice.

    It’s okay to be selfish, you know. Sometimes your happiness and mental health require it.

    • raisingedgar says:

      Thanks Meeshie. You can bet that if we did decide to go again in a few years, we’d get criticism for leaving it late and our poor children having a mum who can’t play football with them due to crumbling bones and incontinence. Oh hang on, I have both of those already…

  9. Muvva says:

    Fantastic and funny post, thank you raisingedgar! Some familiar territory here, and I’m in Australia! Hey, another idea for you: why don’t you have three kids and not worry about it?! I’ve heard it said that having two kids is exponentially more difficult but you don’t notice the difference after that! Just. Jokes.

    • raisingedgar says:

      Thanks Muvva. I think we’d be hard pressed to get three out before the womb became a tumbleweed-laden dust bowl, but food for thought!

  10. Steffi says:

    I stumbled upon your blog and this post resonates so much with me and my partner. We have just had our beautiful baby girl and despite the classic comments from other parents/friends/pretty much everyone, we’re done with the having babies thing. I’m looking forward to showing the other half this post!

    • raisingedgar says:

      Cheers Steffi. And congrats on the new flat (took a sneaky peek at the blog). Happy decorating.

  11. Jem says:

    Hahaha. Loved this post. Got to now burn vital working hours reading through your archives.

    (Although on a serious note, this bit should be plastered on baby guru books everywhere: “it’s impossible to spoil a child with attention. But it is infinitely possible to spoil them with material things, bad parenting and a shitty upbringing.”)

  12. Esmé says:

    There are countless people who ask me why I “only” have one child or when I’m having another. So, I say “I’ve had seven consecutive miscarriages after my daughter actually”. Because that *is* the question they’ve asked. People are astoundingly judgmental and presumptuous at times. It’s simply none of their business! Just like when I don’t bother to ask them why they have two or three kids. Gah!

    • raisingedgar says:

      Gah indeed. You can never know what really goes on in people’s lives, so it is better to forgo any judgement. I wish I were better at not jumping to conclusions myself, but I am trying! Sorry to hear about the miscarriages. I imagine having your hand forced by nature is always going to be tougher than being able to make the decision for yourself.

  13. Sam says:

    Wow man – you got some *comments*!! This is clearly a hot topic. And I appear to be the only person with more than one child who has entered the fray! Weirdly I can’t clearly put my finger on why I wanted to have two (no more). In some strange surreal way it feels like we were a house with three walls and now we’re a house with four walls. Symmetry. I completely understand that its not for everyone though, just like its not for everyone to have kids at all and that’s a personal choice (or unfortunate biological anomaly) that shouldn’t be judged either. People are just too judgemental by far!

    • raisingedgar says:

      Thanks Sam. I reckon if the symmetry thing ever comes a calling, I can just kick the hubbie out / take on a lover, right?! But yes. Each to their own – in all things (except bad stuff).

  14. Jennifer says:

    I entirely agree with everything you say.
    I was (am?) an only child. Very glad of this fact.
    The only ‘side effect’ of this fact is that I can be very much a loner and get narked if I don’t get left alone when I need it, I can’t stand clingy, ‘havetohavecompanyallthetime’ sorts of people.
    But I can live with that. At least I am happy in my own company! After all,siblings or not-we are all really dependent on ourselves for happiness when all’s said and done.

  15. Carol Cameleon says:

    Love it!

  16. Deedee says:

    I do not, for one second, actually believe that you do not want another child. But carry on trying to convince yourself. Others, even very very British people, do not actually give the tiniest fuck!

  17. Becky says:

    If people judge, may I suggest the following responses:

    ‘We just thought, as our child is perfect, we didn’t need another! I guess if I had… a different…child (sideways look at their child) I might have felt differently *frownsmile*’

    ‘Oh, well, we’re trying to clone him so
    as to avoid that whole pregnancy thing, but the little bugger doesn’t like needles! *tinkling laugh*’

    ‘Another baby? But then we’d have to HAVE SEX *vomit on their shoes*’

    Seriously though, some of the most well-adjusted, and, now I come think of it, actually quite glamorous, people I know are onlies. You don’t need me or anyone else to tell you that Edgar rocks and will continue to do so, mightily, with or without siblings.

    And he is welcome to come and push my children down the back steps in a rage, and steal then lose their lipstick before furiously denying having TOUCHED it, if he wants to sample that sibling feeling.

    • raisingedgar says:

      Thanks Becky. We’ll be round on Wednesday. Edgar’s growing his nails especially for some scrapping…

  18. Jane says:

    Absolutely love this blog and wanted to let you know that myself and my partner are both only children and have agreed that we too will only be having one child.
    We were never lonely and we were never spoiled (apart from at Christmas… Christmas was f*****g amazing)
    We both stand our parents decision to not bother us with siblings and agree that we never felt like we missed out by not having any.
    I hope that this helps with any further pitchfork to womb scenarios!

    • raisingedgar says:

      Ah, thanks jane. Apologies for the delay in responding – we’ve all had the lurgy. Dealing with one ill child when you’re poorly yourself is also ample reason not to go again too!

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