Open Letter To An Only Child
Posted: Friday June 25 2021
By: Guest Blogger
A letter written by our fantastic reader and one that hits home about the phrase “only child”
OPEN LETTER FROM A WORKING MUM
You are an ‘only child’. I hate that phrase. Like you’re slightly less somehow, because we didn’t provide you with a genetically -appropriate playmate. It wasn’t through choice – we never intended to be ‘One and Done’. I hate that phrase too. Like you’re some masterpiece we’ve toiled over and decided we can’t be bothered picking up the paintbrush again. No, like many couples we’d always planned to give you a sibling and have the perfect age gap between you. But life got in the way. The house we’d painstakingly renovated and almost paid off turned out to be in the catchment of A Bad School. Probably The Worst School, actually. The kind where the neighbouring houses have abandoned sofas and rusty motorbikes outside. So we immediately started talks about moving to get in A Good School. Talks of a second child were shelved until we’d moved. New house, new baby – isn’t that what they say? I increased my hours at work. Daddy already worked long hours so you had to spend more time at nursery, which thankfully you loved. You got packed off to grandparents at every opportunity while we got the house sold. You were becoming more unsettled by the day. We felt more guilty by the day. But it’ll all be worth it, we said, when we’ve moved and Our Life Can Begin.
The old house sold within a week and we found a new one near A Good School. Probably The Best School, actually. Right at the beach and with a sensory garden and a wigwam. A bloody wigwam! You don’t get much better than that. Our new house is also at the beach. A new mortgage came with it, and a new round of painstaking renovations as it was a homage to 80’s decor. More bills to pay. More hours at work. More time with grandparents. More stress. Less family time. You were still unsettled and miserable. But it’ll all be worth it, we said, when the house is finished and Our Life Can Begin.
Talks of a second child were shelved until you started school. The age gap was widening. Your friends all had siblings. Hell, by now even their siblings had siblings! Friends who were staunchly ‘one and done’ began having babies. You became the exception instead of the norm. People kept asking when we were having another one. You kept asking when you could have a brother or sister. We felt guilty that you were on your own. But something else happened. You grew up. You are four and a half now (the half is always important). You are long out of nappies. We all get a reasonable amount of sleep. Mealtimes are less messy. We can leave the house without three hours of planning and taking half the contents with us (sometimes I only take my phone and a packet of tissues. I like to live on the edge). The house is nearly finished. It’s lovely. We have two living rooms so you can make as much mess as you like and watch Spiderman on a loop. But it isn’t baby-proofed in the slightest. We have cream carpets and glass tables with actual corners. There isn’t a baby gate in sight.
You start school in a few weeks, which means it’s time for the long-awaited Second Child Talk. But it also means no more nursery fees to pay. Which means I can finally work less hours. I can be the one to drop you off at school every day and pick you up in the afternoon. We can skip home and have a snack and Do Fun Things. Things we’ve never been able to do because I’m always at work. But if we have another baby, that won’t happen, will it? We can’t afford the maternity leave. I’d have to work longer hours again. There would be nursery fees and childminders. I wouldn’t be the one to drop you off at school or pick you up. There would be no skipping home for a snack or fun. I’d miss it all. Again. And the thought of that makes me so very, very sad. Sad enough that when we finally had The Talk and daddy admitted he didn’t actually want another one – didn’t want to go back to sleepless nights and nappies and nursery fees – I admitted he is probably right. I think we really are ‘One and Done’, which means you’ll probably always be an ‘only’. Sorry about that. But I’m really looking forward to the skipping…