Why is it that society, in this day and age, puts so much pressure on women to have more than one child? There is a sense that if you do not procreate multiple times you are a failure and a bad parent. Somehow an only child is suffering an injustice so massive if they are forced to have, God forbid, THEIR OWN ROOM. They will be seen by their peers and the world at large as a victim of such severe child abuse if they cannot have the blissful experience of sibling companionship or as I experienced it, violent sibling rivalry.
The moment Otto came out of my womb, I was inundated by questions as to when the next one was coming. It was as if I had carried twins but one decided to hang back until he or she was good and ready to leave mommy’s war room. The pressure began to increase when people discovered that I was 39 years old when Otto was born. Today, that makes me two months shy of 41 with only one child. In other words, I am a freak of nature, a selfish old woman who thinks of no one but herself. It never occurs to anyone that an only child has advantages that one member of a large litter does not.
I have already mentioned the “own room” scenario but what about never wearing hand me downs with blood stains from a back yard fight in which your younger sibling was excused of any blame simply on the basis of age while your older sibling is off getting high with the sluttish babysitter next door? Or the fact that this only child will never have to fight over a doll in the living room and have their biological best friend decapitate it in retaliation and scar him or her for life. If you are solo in the kiddo department you never have to share the crappy car that Mom and Dad let you drive, thus making every weekend a make out in the car weekend.
When asked when we are having a second, I tell people that I do not think Dave and I will have another but they try and argue their point as if we were in a courtroom and my life, literally, depended on it. I can see myself in shackles and an orange jumpsuit pleading my case to the under-educated, fashion crippled jury, begging them to see it from my point of view. I tell them "I love sleeping", "breast feeding sucked (no pun intended)" and "I'm back to my skinny jeans" but to no avail. The prosecution comes at me like a toddler at a Cheerio. My favorite pitches from various people on why I should have more than one child are the following.
“Have another. They take care of each other.”
“Once you have one you don’t even notice another.”
“Don’t you want your child to have someone to play with that has the same germs?”
“You don’t have to buy all the baby stuff again. You’ll already have it.”
This last one is my favorite for the simple reason that it is so ridiculous in its logic, missing the whole point that having a second child is expensive whether or not you have used baby crap sitting in bins in the garage or not. How much money will that really save you in comparison to the hospital bills, food bills and education costs that the second will incur no matter if its wearing an old, faded bib and a onesie decorated with shit stains from its older brother.
Having one child is not only fine for the child, it is more than fine for the parents who can focus all their attention on their single muskrat and enjoy each stage of their development without knowing that another hell year of no sleep, breast pumping, irrational bouts of tears and no sexual desire is coming down the pipeline. You can travel to Europe, go on long car trips, have sex in the afternoon without falling asleep and prepare for the bunny to scoot off to preschool and give you those few precious hours a day back that you so longingly miss.
Lastly, why no one thinks about the environmental impact of a larger family is shocking. The diapers, the gas used to come and go to various activities and appointments for the bean sprouts, the food, the plastic Chinese made toys and all the detritus that goes along with having multiple offspring is polluting the environment. Discarded sippy cups and lost pacifiers overflow landfills along side their best buddy, the poop filled disposable diaper, better known as the cockroach of modern waste management. Those funky envelopes of excrement refuse to break down in the dirt and are amassing an army that will one day take over the earth. They do not know the word biodegradable and have never met a seagull they did not like or choke to death with their Velcro closures and absorbent urine sacks.
If you want to have a large brood that will always resemble one another in Christmas photos and will be easier to find in a crowd at a large state fair than be my guest. I am not telling you all the reasons you should not. Yet, you are telling me all the reasons I should give Otto a brother or sister and that that is what he wants and needs more than anything else. No one, including Otto, really knows what he wants. But I do know what I want. I want a happy, healthy family, quality time to spend with them and a clean, healthy planet to leave for my child. That, and low tuition costs as I jet around the world with my husband when junior is cramming for the finals of his LSATs or banging hot chicks while he house sits for us.