‘Just the one’ we say when someone offers us something we consider delicious, indulgent and chocolately.
‘Just the one’ we might insist when someone tries to refill our glass with something chilled and bubbly.
It is a phrase that is used time and time again when we fancy a polite taste of something nice, but without actually scoffing the whole packet of biscuits, or polishing off the whole bottle of wine.
It is also a phrase that I have personally always struggled with, but never more so than when people ask me how many children I have, and I reply ‘just the one’.
My son will turn 4 this year.
We passed through pregnancy with flying colours, but failed our final hypno-birthing session miserably. Then we survived the first sleep-deprived year with lots of caffeine and Grey’s Anatomy box sets.
The terrible twos were not as terrible as I feared and we escaped with just a few minor battle scars – mainly to my patience, tolerance and very last nerve, which did all take a bit of a bashing at the time but seem to have recovered a bit now.
Recently we graduated into the age of the Threenager, which has certainly been the most challenging stage to date, but overall he brings absolute joy to our lives and we enjoy being his parents very much indeed.
So, people are starting to wonder where his little brother or sister is. In most cases, not just quietly wondering but asking out loud every time they see us.
Every. Single. Time.
It’s not that we don’t want a bigger family and a couple of years ago that was THE plan. But, my increasing age and recent Hashimoto’s diagnosis may mean that the decision may now well be taken out of our hands.
This does not stop some people from judging though.
To some, we should be getting on with it already. Some will waste no time in reminding me that time is running out. There is also sometimes the underlying suggestion that we are being selfish by having just one child… but, is having an only child really such a terrible thing?
There are certain advantages to us parents, most certainly.
After years of interrupted sleep, we are only just starting to feel the brain fog is lifting.
As cute as they are, newborns are deceptively hard work. The first 6-months feel like an endurance test with seemingly never-ending night feeds, sleep schedules and nappy cycles.
Our weekend plans no longer need to accommodate an afternoon nap and we are practically equipment free.
I will never again experience that awful realisation, mid-poo explosion, of not having one single baby wipe in the house.
I can shower, use the toilet, and drink a cup of tea without a toddler hanging on to my leg. Although, obviously not all at the same time.
There is only one little person to dress, clean and negotiate with at any given time.
We have finally outgrown In The Night Garden.
He is old enough to be left with his grandparents for an entire night. Possibly even a whole weekend…
He will have all my love and attention, just the way he likes it.
I am almost back in my pre-pregnancy jeans. This statement may be a lie.
We do not need to divide and conquer. Our family time is spent as such.
Money. Money. Money.
But then, to think of him growing up without a sibling to play with, depend upon, challenge, or confide in breaks my heart.
I have three younger siblings and the Greek God(zilla) has two – we have no personal experience of being an only child to guide us. We both come from big, boisterous families who bicker, constantly talk over each other and like to socialise.
There are times when I think having two children may even be easier – there are only so many times I can race up and down our hallway before getting tired and/or bored. Yet, my son will charge around for hours with his cousins and friends, squealing more and more with laughter every time.
I try my best, but my interest in cars, trucks and building Lego towers does tend to wane after about 30-minutes. Introduce another child to the mix though and I find myself with a decent hour or so to catch up on my reading, or more likely, the laundry.
The time has passed by so quickly.
It seems like only yesterday I was squidging his chubby thighs, tickling his belly and watching him take his first wobbly steps.
He will never be a baby again.
I also worry that if I don’t have another child, I will never feel like a real mum compared to those juggling two or more children.
But, I am not certain that I will have another and I think I am ok with that.
Maybe that is just the way it is meant to be.
Just us three.