Wednesday, August 3, 2016

My One and Only

When Eric and I first became involved, he expressed to me that he always assumed he wouldn’t have children because he hadn’t settled down until so late in life (he turns 40 this year). I’m 7 years his junior, and still in prime baby-making years. Having already had a child, I had told him that if he wanted a child of his own, I was willing to go through it one more time (yes, I said go through it. My first pregnancy was awful). Originally, the plan was that we would start trying in May of this year. Then when Eric got a new job, we pushed it back to this fall. Then I started grad school, so we pushed it back to next fall.

On Mother’s Day, Eric visited with his family and his sister, who had just had her second baby. He held the baby and, for reasons I’m still not fully clear on, he started to second guess the plan to have a child at all. He wasn’t sure he was cut out for caring for a baby, and I expect he found himself somewhat annoyed with his sister’s baby. So, when he came home, he told me that he wasn’t sure he was on the baby train anymore and that, while he hadn’t fully made up his mind, he was leaning towards not having one.

My position on having a baby was based on his preference. Personally, I never wanted children to begin with and had I not had my daughter in the way I had her (unplanned), I likely would never have had a child. However, I was willing to do this for him, to give him a child because he seemed to want one. To be honest, I was never 100% thrilled with the idea of having another child, kidlet just turned 9 this year, so the diaper stage of my life ended a while ago and the thought of returning to it this late in the game wasn’t a fun one. There are people in this world who love children, who love babies, and who have to fight the urge to have more once they’ve met their quota of kids. I am not one of those people. I love my daughter and I’m happy to have her in my life. However, I think I would have been perfectly happy in life had it taken a different path that didn’t include her. Perhaps that makes me a bad mother, I don’t know nor do I particularly care. My daughter is well loved and well cared for, and the fact is she is here, my life did not take a different path.

It’s been a few months now and Eric has steadfastly stuck by his initial decision to not have a child. He has until next fall to change his mind, but I find my initial mixed feelings fading away to pure relief. I will admit that, while I never wanted children, the idea of having a planned pregnancy and a supportive partner was something I was looking forward to with Eric. My first pregnancy was awful, but my first marriage was worse, and while kidlet sees her father regularly, I don’t think I’ll ever fully get over the things he did to me, the things he didn’t do for her (and still doesn’t), and the things I went through with him. However, a “do-over” pregnancy was not going to erase the experience I had already had and I’d rather focus my efforts on building my relationship with the child I have then try again for a better initial relationship with a new child.

As my mixed feelings fade away, I find myself almost giddy at the prospect of not having another child. Kidlet is 9 years away from adulthood, which means that I’ll have a significant portion of my adult life to look forward to where I won’t be tied down by a child. When she’s 18, I’ll be 42. I even thought about retiring early as Eric and I fell in love with our honeymoon destination and have given serious thought to retiring there. However, even if I don’t retire early, I could still retire at 55 because I will have hit 30 years with the state. Even better, we can afford to travel if we’re only sending one kid to college. The money we’ll save on daycare expenses alone is enough of a reason to forego another kid to me. Kidlet is almost out of daycare. She has two more years of elementary school and once she’s in middle school, she won’t need daycare anymore. Summer care will still be a bit dodgy until she’s a teen, but paying for summer camp is still cheaper than paying for summer camp AND a full year of before and after care.

Finally, kidlet is pretty happy to be siblingless. There are days she laments the lack of a sibling, but mostly she says she enjoys being my one and only child. She gets our full attention, she’s doted on as the only grandchild on my side of the family, and she has been in daycare since she was a year old, so socialization has not been a problem for her as it is for some only children.

It’s always possible that Eric will change his mind, but I doubt it and I’m secretly hopeful he won’t. I’m perfectly happy with my one child and have no biological clock telling me otherwise. 

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