My weekends have morphed into a haze of shin guard finding, cleat cleaning, uniform washing and unpaid chauffeur driving. It’s enjoyable some days and completely draining and monotonous on others. Being a mom to a busy, athletic, and wildly social eleven-year-old has its ups and not so ups. The other day it had been one of “those” mornings…I burned the bacon, we couldn’t find his soccer uniform socks, there was construction on the route to get to the game. We were late, my little soccer player was upset, it was at least one thousand degrees outside and I forgot the sunscreen. Sweaty, aggravated and in the mood to be anywhere but playing the role of soccer mom I was spotted by one of the parents on the team. As she approached, I was thinking: please just wave. Do not speak to me. Do not enter my space. I was trying to center myself and find my inner Zen, alone. But of all the days, “perfect” mom came and sat right next to me and said, “You are so lucky to only have one kid to take care of.” “It must be so easy!” “I would kill to ONLY have one!” I had to channel my inner Mother Theresa and quickly. All kinds of inappropriate expletives ran through my head. Thankfully, my inner Zen made an appearance and I mustered up a less than impressive smirk and looked down at my imaginary “please don’t let me smack this bitch app.” Another pre-game mom brawl thwarted.
The perception of being the parent to an only child is completely wrong. As is the misconception of the lack of social skills one develops as an only child. There is nothing easy or simplistic about either role. Being an only child is like a science experiment that can be a huge success or a complete failure; you spend the greater part of your life living under a microscope. You are your parents one shot at getting it right. There is a heightened sense of your parents being over-protective, every mistake is illuminated, you can’t blame painting the dog bright red on anyone else. For better or worse, it’s what only children must embrace.
For the record, I am an only child. I’ve managed to get through life with grade A social skills and the ability to share. I have friends that consider me to be a compassionate person and I only see my therapist once a week. In a very calculated turn of events I decided to have one child & I have no regrets with that choice. The truth is the deep, burning need to be called mama never made an appearance. I’m grateful for the mini-me in male form; he has filled my life with laughter and increased my alcohol intake but I wouldn’t trade him for the world.
Once I entered adulthood, there was my introduction to the fertility judgment years. If you’ve never had a judgment train ran on you, then do a happy dance. I have on endless occasions and it’s not cool. There was judgment about me being an only child. “What does that feel like?” “Don’t you wish you had a sibling?” “I wouldn’t have known since you’re not bitchy.” Or my favorite, “You must’ve been sooooo lonely.” Thank you for the condescending tone & judgment but I was fine and I still am. Alas, the train would continue with “Surely, you won’t have just one child” and “You have to give him a sibling to play with, I mean you don’t want him to be a spoiled brat.” Big scowl and frown… I’ll never understand why women tend to judge one another so harshly and are consumed with the fertility decisions of other moms. I don’t think its intentional; but a little compassion would go a long way. Moms of only children have to battle judgment and pre-conceived ideas about how “easy” life is on a daily basis. The comments and assumptions are relentless. Here are the facts:
If my son gets sick I still have to call out from work. My boss doesn’t empathize because I only have one sick kid at home.
If my son has a band recital on the same night as his soccer game and I have a work function to attend I still have to find a way to fulfill my work obligations and super humanly divide myself in half to get him to both activities.
If my son gets bullied by a classmate I still have to schedule a meeting with the principal and handle the awful situation.
If my only child brings strep throat home, it’s still contagious and I have to be a good nurse while trying not to get sick just like any other mom.
I don’t get to skip college tours and admissions applications, I don’t get to drink margaritas by the pool, I don’t get to spend hours alone with my favorite vibrator, I spend all of my time just like any other mom; busy, exhausted and sexually depressed. Most days I’m involved in an intricate game of mental Olympics so that I don’t snap because I’m overextended.
I still have to provide snacks for the PTA meeting and sports activities, I still have to look for a carpool buddy if I can’t make it to his game on time, I still have to wake up if there is a nightmare, I still have to be a mom, 24/7. Us moms of only children don’t get this illusion of glorified easier mom life because we have “just” one.
I am proud to be in the only children’s club and I am even prouder to be raising one. I take each blessing as it comes. No judgement, no opinions. Be it on the soccer field, as classroom mom or in any other capacity all moms need to stop making assumptions about us moms that have one child. I don’t have more of this magical thing called time because I ONLY have one child. I’m not painting the town with free abandon because I ONLY have one child. I’m busy, frazzled, worried, grumpy, moody, & racing against time just like any other mother. It never stops. This is a full time, thankless job whether you ONLY have one child or multiple children. Let’s stop creating a false narrative where one mother has it soooo much easier than another because its demeaning and silly. I’ll be lifting up all moms in a judgment free zone and I hope I’ll be the beneficiary of the same courtesy.
About the author: Kai McGee, J.D. is a writer and photographer. Her work has appeared on MyBrownBaby.com. She is also a breast cancer survivor who actively volunteers with The American Cancer Society’s: Reach to Recovery program. In her past life, she was a lawyer/executive. When she’s not writing, she enjoys traveling and lazy mornings in bed watching the food network. She resides in South Florida with her tween son and canon camera. You can follow her on instagram @onanaturalkai