Why Do I Keep Apologizing for Having One Child?
This article isn’t about what you think it might be about. I’m not sorry for being “one and done.” And I’m definitely not sorry for choosing NOT to give my son a sibling. I have to make the best decision for my family and for my health and that means no more babies. One postpartum depression illness, two daily happy pills, and tons of therapy sessions later, I’ve accepted I’m not built to be a mother of multiples. This is me and my family feels complete. Maybe you think it’s my duty as a mother to provide him with a sibling. Maybe you should mind your own business. Maybe I think my most important job is to provide him with a happy mommy.
Yet, for some reason I find myself apologizing often and mostly to other parents with more than one child. It’s as if I feel bad for for venting to another mom about my stressful day because theirs has to be more stressful. And it’s been really stressful lately. My nanny has been away for a month. My husband is gone all week on a business trip, comes home for a few days, and then leaves again. My three-year old needs eye drops every four hours for 7-10 days and I’m thinking he is going to be an MMA fighter when he grows up the way he tries to punch me every time I have to hold him down for just one drop. I don’t even know if the eye drops are making into his eye when I squirt them.
Last night he refused to go to sleep at bedtime, magically wet his bed but kept his diaper dry, and still peed even more in the potty. Once I changed the sheets and put him back to bed, he attempted to negotiate all kinds of deals that would prolong him from having to fall asleep. After listening to him read himself books and sing show-tunes from Hamilton (yes he loves Hamilton like the rest of the world), he finally fell asleep around 10:30pm only to wake up at 3 am, get out of bed, sit by his door and repeatedly whine, “I’m hungry.”
My husband flew home this morning on the red-eye from California and I’m trying to feel a little bad for him and his exhaustion, but it’s so hard. Like I said, I’m trying. And by trying I mean I’m going to try really really hard to refrain from nagging him about all the house shit that has to be done before it can be deemed ready for market. But tomorrow I will go back to nagging since the painter still hasn’t come back, the contractor hasn’t fixed anything, and we have loads of boxes and furniture that need to be taken to the storage unit. He better have gotten a storage unit on his way home from work today. Oh and did I mention he leaves again on yet another business trip (one I swear he forgot to tell me he was definitely going on) at the end of the week? And that I de-cluttered and reorganized the entire house and he has had weeks to get this stuff done? I hate feeling like a nag and having to constantly repeat myself. Why can’t he just do what I ask the first time?!
I just picked my son up from camp. He asked me what snack I brought him and then proceeded to cry that he didn’t want that snack. This happens everyday no matter what snack I bring. When I finally calmed him down, we arrived home where I let him play for 30 minutes, which was then followed by a meltdown of epic proportions because of course he didn’t want to nap. After he finally realized that mommy would win this battle, he resigned himself to sitting in my lap with a cup of milk and reading two books before climbing into bed. For him, climbing into bed means moving at a glacial pace after loudly declaring that “I can get in bed by myself.” Of course he can’t just lie down on his pillow and let me tuck him in. He has to jump into his pillow after counting: “onnnnne, twooooo, threeeee, fouuuuur, fiiiiive, sixteeeeen, eleventeeeeen.” Obviously we have to work on our numbers.
And does he nap? Not today. Today he decides to transform into a tornado that destroys his room and then knock on the walls yelling, “Is anybody out there? Mommy where are you?” I decided to pretend no one was out there. Mommy needed to take a shower. Mommy needed a few minutes of peace and quiet. Mommy really doesn’t feel like being a mommy right now.
I knew if I went in, it would all be over. I thought I was a master manipulator, but I could seriously learn a few tricks from him. I just didn’t have the energy to engage in a battle of wills. I would lose. I’m just too tired.
Once this not so quiet quiet time ended, I texted one of my close mom friends and I did what I always do after I vent. I ended my rant with, “I know I shouldn’t complain. You have to deal with this times two. I’m a stay at home mom with one child and a part-time nanny.” BUT my close friends never tell me I shouldn’t complain. They never say things like, “It could be worse” or “Try doing that with two additional children” or “What do you have to be stressed about, you have a nanny and don’t have to work.” They never judge or make me feel guilty.
I guess the judgment and guilt must come from me. Do I feel as if I don’t have the right to complain because running after and managing the needs of one kid is easier than doing it for three kids? What about the moms who work all day and then come home to parent? What about the moms who stay at home with multiple children and have no help? What about the single moms that do it alone?
Some moms might judge me or call me spoiled or think I have it so easy. What those people don’t know is that I have a part-time nanny as a result of battling postpartum depression for a year. I never thought I would need any help, especially with only one child. I judged myself for a long time because of that. Eventually I got over it and accepted who I am and my limitations, the biggest one being having more children. I am also extremely grateful everyday to be fortunate enough to stay home and get the mom breaks I need from the luxury of a part-time nanny. I should also mention that I don’t live near most of the women in my husband’s and my family. My part-time nanny fills that void.
That same close mom friend I texted, a mom of two boys, always apologizes for venting about motherhood and marriage stress too, as if I don’t want to hear about those kinds of things. What she doesn’t realize is that I live for those conversations. They remind me that I’m not alone in my motherhood struggles, no matter how many children I have. Since we don’t live in the same place anymore, they keep us connected and make me feel needed. I always tell her, “Don’t be silly. You never need to apologize. This shit is the toughest part of life we’ve been through so far. And we need to talk about it to feel better.”
I think I should start taking my own advice and start apologizing less and owning who I am and my flaws even more than I already do, no matter how many children I have. Maybe in theory, one child should be easier than two or three or four. But one child for me might equal three for you. I’ve just chosen to do what’s best for my family and me. And I’m definitely not sorry for that.