When I was a teenager, I made a clear plan for my future as a parent: I’d have one child – a boy – and that was it. My step-mom told me surely I’d want more than one, but I never questioned my decision because it felt perfectly right.
My son’s birth was a transformative and terrifying experience. If I hadn’t already made up my mind about raising an only child, my pregnancy, labor, and delivery would have done it for me. Despite taking precautions, I lived in fear of getting pregnant again, and that fear still hangs out inside my head, 18 years later.
Having an only child has been great! He’s had my attention from Day 1. Surrounded mostly by adults, he quickly developed language, social, and problem-solving skills. I can’t remember him ever asking or wishing for a sibling, even though he would’ve made a terrific big brother. We’ve been through a lot of good and bad times together.
Still, after suffering through two divorces and a seriously messed up live-in relationship with me, I think growing up was lonely for my kiddo. He compensated with friends. As he got older, some of those friends became regulars. Time spent with other people’s children opened my eyes to a lot of things. I never imagined my little broken home would become a place of respite for kids who were struggling with their home lives. Since my son’s girlfriend moved in with us last fall, the friend traffic has noticeably increased. We’ve seen a lot of tears and frustration, but we’ve also shared a lot of meals, happy celebrations, and plans for the future.
For the most part, I’m happy to host friends as long they eventually go home. There’ve been times when I’ve felt like I was raising more than one kid and I’ve had to put my foot down about reasonable visitation, after all, my home is my sanctuary and I still prefer having an only child (although his +1 has a place in my heart too).
But my son and his girlfriend plan to move out soon, and I may have said something about listing our extra rooms on Airbnb. May as well make some money on the ol’ empty nest, right? Well, my son – bless his practical mind and compassionate heart – thought this meant I was ready to open a boarding house for the friends he’s leaving behind. Though I’m touched that my son considers me a decent housemate and our home a safe haven for his friends, I don’t want to fill his vacancy with more kids.
I’m sticking to my original plan. It still feels perfectly right.