I am an only child.
No matter how many wishes I wished in my childhood, this didn’t change. It was only later in life my father told me I was a mistake, which answered many questions for me. After his death I found a letter written to him by my mother, which extinguished any doubts I might have had about her love for me. It was obviously written sometime after they were married but before she had me. She desperately wanted children, my father did not and apparently he had made her promise never to have any. How sad.
I have included my mother’s letter in my book. In part it reads:
From the time I was old enough to play with dolls I wished and dreamt of my own family. When in school and in college my ultimate goal was to find a true mate and together with him build a family and home under God’s blessing.
Two years ago my joy was immeasurable when I became pregnant – it too was denied me, no doubt due to my many sins.
I weep now for the children I never had.
I’m sure if it had been left to my mother to decide, she would have had more children. Enough at least to fill the void both of us felt.
Despite my mother’s maternal nature, I think she struggled with the daily details. I get the impression there were many times she just didn’t know what to do with me. She was an only child as well, so there were no sisters she could ask and I’m not too certain my grandmother was any better as a mother, although she was a wonderful grandmother. I understood all this so much better when I had children of my own. One can love your parents immensely even if they make mistakes and I loved my mother dearly.
Nowadays I’m a vocal advocate for parents having more than one child. I realise sometimes it is impossible and I do try to be sensitive (those who know me well might smile a bit here). It is only when you grow up as an only child you understand the loneliness. Of course in many families there are cousins and friends with children of the same age but the only child still spends most nights in a bedroom on their own and, on the days when they are not with family and friends, they are left to amuse themselves.
I believe my only child status was the catalyst for my love of books. Whenever I found myself alone, and this was the norm rather than the exception, I dove into my books and escaped from my solitude into magical lands and charmed stories. I loved stories about siblings, such as the entire Narnia series, but I also enjoyed stories of the lone child who battles various predicaments, such as A Little Princess.
My desire for a big family resulted in my three boys. Originally I wanted six children but I have to admit, three was enough for me. Similarly to my mother, I struggled at times to know what to do. I did ask her advice now and again, just as I asked for the advice of my mother in law and my friends. Somehow I stumbled through the baby and toddler stage and found myself much more comfortable with the primary and high school stages. Now I have three fantastic adult sons who make me proud with everything they do – ok, maybe not everything… but you get the picture! My eldest son and his partner have recently made me a Nanna to the cutest grandson ever. I’ve already suggested they consider having another.