From the heart of the Mommy of an Only Child..
Being the parent of an only child...this was never my plan! Growing up with a brother who was only one year younger than me, I always had a fierce protector, confidant and yes as anyone who has a younger sibling knows, someone who sometimes annoyed the heck out of me! I say all this in love because my bond with my little brother was then an forever will be unbreakable with an adoration for each other that is unmeasurable.
Because I had my little brother aka my room-mate, I grew up dreaming that when it was my time I would have at least two children and in my mind ideally 3....2 girls and a boy...I had a plan.
Well as my mother would say, “man plans and God laughs” because after two heart breaking miscarriages I had my daughter at the tender age of 22 and she would end up being my only child.
You might ask, how do you go from having a lifelong dream of having three children to only having one? You had her so young, why did you stop?
Here’s the thing: I did have my daughter at a very young age but from the moment I first held her in my arms I felt a love I had never known and could not even explain. I wanted to be and do everything for her. My primary purpose in life became discovering all that I could about this little human that I had been entrusted to steward over. For me this was the greatest responsibility I had ever been given and I did not take it lightly. I studied her, nurtured her gifts, encouraged her to strengthen her strengths and manage her weaknesses. I spent countless hours at theatre, art and dance classes. Sought to get her a great education and traveled around the world with her to cultivate and express her talents. As the years went by I realized that I was learning about myself as I poured into her...we grew up together.
In my youth I thought that being a parent meant to be a steward and it does but I have come to learn that in my stewardship there were aspects of my being that were unveiled and blossomed in my role as Mommy.
Now do I think that myself and my daughter may have been different people had I had more children? I do think that the dynamics of our relationship would have been different because I would have had to share my time and energies with her sibling(s) but ultimately I think we would have grown into who we are today...same destination different journey.
Some think that it’s a disadvantage for one to grow up as an only child because that only child can be showered with so much attention from their parents that they may become selfish and socially inept.
I must admit that there were often times when my daughter was growing up that when were in the presence of other children and attention was being given to them, my daughter would be come upset and give the standard pouty face and arms crossed over her chest. I would tell her, “ it’s not your moment,” and she would most often shake it off and join in with what was happening or go off and do her own thing. Only children are good at doing their “own thing.” I’m not sure if this behavior was because of the “only child syndrome” or because my daughter was an entertainer from birth and always wanted to delight people with her talents. Either way, there were times when I had to tell her NO and as a Mommy I could not be afraid to do so because in this world she will not always get a YES, them what?!
Two life principles that I have learned are critical when it comes to raising only children, they are “balance is the key to life” and “relationships are the network for life.” Though my daughter did not have a sibling in the home that she had to share Mommy’s attention with, I always made it clear to her that it’s not always going to be her “moment.” I taught her that she needed to be mindful of the needs of others because we all have an innate desire to feel loved and wanted and when that need is not met that it when abnormality expresses itself in ways that can be harmful not only to the individual but to the society at large.
We grow in community and not isolation so I always made sure to bring my daughter around our extended family, scheduled play dates with friend and kept her engaged in social activities that developed her socialization and communication skills outside of her parents. You can not develop a muscle unless you exercise it.
I would tell anyone who has more than one child as difficult as it may be to share your time talent and treasury equally with each child, do your best to see them as individuals, uniquely and wonderfully made and designed for a specific purpose. Take the time to study their unique traits, characteristics and abilities, help your children to discover them then put in the work to nurture them.
I believe God in His infinite wisdom knew WHO my daughter was and what she would require from me and that’s why she is an only child. I don’t have any regrets because my daughter brings me so much joy and I see her as the best of me...my one and only!
- Heather Hughes
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