One Is the Loneliest Number?


When we first decided that we were going to embark on this journey called parenthood, I knew two things:

1. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into and…

2. We were okay with having just one child.

Once my son was born, we relished in the time we were with him. My husband is a teacher, and my son’s birth happened to occur right when summer break started, so we were all able to be together in the first few months. That was a luxury and a blessing that I do not take for granted.

It was a magical time, a scary time, a time of transition. We were blessed with a healthy son who was blowing our minds every day. And every day I felt that my son was our one and only.

As time went on, it was obvious to those around me that I was suffering from anxiety. To say it was mild would be putting it mildly. I was in the midst of postpartum anxiety, and it stuck around for a while. It upsets me in retrospect that there were times I probably was not completely present or did not enjoy things the way I should have. But I can’t dwell on those feelings, and I chose to do something about the issue at hand.

I am glad that I can say I came out stronger and wiser. But this did little to change my mind about having another child. If anything, it solidified my decision to only have one. I certainly could not imagine going through that again and did not see how I would avoid it if I was to have another child. So our plan stayed the course and on I went in my journey of being the mother of an only child.

This has its own pros and cons.

My son gets a LOT of attention. He was the first grandchild on both my husband’s and my side of the family.

He was surrounded by love…and spoiled. My husband and I played into this. We rarely said no to things because we were fortunate enough to give those things to him and did not have another child on the horizon making us think twice about a purchase or trip. My son is grateful (sometimes) for the things he receives, but he also tends to expect things as a result.

Sharing is an interesting concept to him, regardless of playdates and early childhood friendships. Having things go his way was a natural way of life because there was no one else looking to have things go their way when it came to what games to play, what show to put on the TV, and so on.

We have made a conscious effort to have him be respectful and to have good manners. But to this day there is a part of him that expects things, and we are working on that. Do I think this would be the case with a sibling as well? I do, actually. It’s just part of his personality.

And like every parent, we are on a learning curve, and parenting an only child has its own set of rules that we try and be cognizant of in the same way that parenting several children will have others doing things in their own way.

There is an unspoken, or maybe not so unspoken, taboo about having an only child. I am always asked if we will have another, and I can see it in someone’s eye when they are trying to figure out why on earth we haven’t yet. You hear how it must “be so easy for you” just having one.

Well, I’m not so sure about that.

We are the ones to play with when friends are not around, and parenting, in general, is no walk in the park, whether you have one or five! Each comes with its own set of challenges.

Do I think it’s okay to have just one child? Yes, I do.

Do I think that it’s okay for us to change our minds if we decide to have another? Of course.

I have always stood up for the decision for one because I know it is not the norm and I know that for some it’s not by choice. For us, it has been, and that’s okay too!

No one should ever feel bad just because it isn’t what the majority does. Each family is a gift, no matter what the number. And we are enjoying our army of three right now.

Turns out one isn’t the loneliest number after all. It is, for us, just the right number.

How do you feel about having just one child?


  1. Another mom of an only child (she is 3.5 yrs) here. While her only status is not entirely by choice (due to infertility), We are content as a family of 3 most days and I can so relate to your confrontations with others. Why do people (strangers especially) think it is okay to talk about or give advice on my reproduction and family size? “She really needs a little brother or sister.” “When will (not if/are you) going to give her a sibling?” I don’t appreciate being judged for not providing my daughter with a sibling.; as an only, I provide her with all kinds of experiences and quality relational time I wouldn’t otherwise be able to. Thanks for sharing your story!

  2. “An army of three.” I love that!

    I always knew I wanted two (and no more) but then we had fertility troubles and I had postpartum anxiety and general anxiety and it got complicated and in the end we decided to be one and done (vasectomy, no take-backsies.) I believe it’s the right choice for our family but I still have some only child guilt and I think it’ll be hard to shake. Reading other people’s only child experiences definitely helps, so thank you.

  3. Party of three here as well. I always imagined 2 children. It’s what I came from, and you know, the obvious “only children are spoiled”, and I was so certain we would have 2. 2 miscarriages later and finally a viable pregnancy and we had our little man. In those early days I was still convinced that we would have another, maybe when he’s 1 or 2yrs old. But then 1 and 2 yrs old came, and I was not ready to share my love. I hated to think of not being able to provide him all of my attention, and I just was not ready. My husband was content with 1. It was manageable, affordable, and we knew what we were doing with 1 (sort of). As life went on and we were sleeping through the night, potty training, etc it became harder and harder to feel ready to start over again, and I was still just so happy and content with pouring all of my love into my 1 sweet boy. That, to me, was confirmation that maybe I did not need another. I completely threw all of myself and everything I had into my son from day 1, and I would not want it any other way…but the thought of doing it all over again was daunting, and I knew that it was ok to not 100% want to do it. Parenting is an all in commitment, and it’s hard work. I knew I could and would do it again if the time came, but consciously making that decision did not seem like the right thing for us. We love spoiling him, taking him places and being able to buy him something. I too worry about sharing, tolerance, dealing with feelings of not getting his own way, but I feel like my husband and I have made a conscious effort to involve him in thing a from early on that introduce these concepts. Mothers morning out and pre-school were amazing. Not only for the few hours of alone time I had, but for the incredibly important rules and lessons he has learned there. At 6yrs old I am proud to say that many of those fears have subsided with minimal hiccups, and our son is pretty sweet and caring of others. Recently another unexpected miscarriage stirred up all kinds of feelings. Initially “oh my god how am I going to do this”, and ultimately “why can’t I do this?” It has made me realize how lucky I am to have what I have, and that it is, indeed, enough. I never ask people those “when are you having another” questions. If there is one thing fertility issues have taught me it is that you really never do know what someone else is going through. We all need to make the best choices for our own families, and sometimes a family of 3 is pretty perfect.

  4. Thank you so much for sharing. My husband and I started later in life than most… I am 38 to his 49 years. We have a fabulous 4 year old daughter. While we would love to have another child in our life, we aren’t going to be heartbroken if it doesn’t happen for us. We are very fortunate to have family very close by and that helps a lot! My daughter spends 3-4 days per week around my 10 year old niece. The only person who asks me about a sibling these days is my daughter! She wants a baby! 🙂

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