Tag Archives: traditions

Is One the Loneliest Number?

9 Jan

When you get engaged, from the moment you have the ring on your finger everyone wants to know all the details, from the date and venue to the dress and cake flavor.  Once you get married, everyone wants to know when you’re going to have kids.  (During the Sunday brunch the morning after my wedding, my mom was holding one of my high school friends’ babies and remarked, “Don’t you want one of these?”  Seriously Mom, we had been married less than 20 hours!)  And inevitably, once you have one child and think that the masses will be appeased, not so fast!  Everyone wants to know whether — and when — you’ll be having your next one.

Hubs and I agreed that we would table even having that conversation until Lucy is older.  (No Irish twins for us, thankyouverymuch.)  We haven’t decided whether or not to have a second child, but two kids seems to be Hubs’ max.  Still, it’s hard not to ponder the concept and wonder whether Lucy will stay an only child or whether we will someday give her a little brother or sister.

I’m an only child, whereas Hubs is the oldest of three.  I had a good childhood as an only child (more on that in a minute), so I’ve never felt like I must have more than one kid.  I think people with siblings (assuming they get along) tend to think having siblings is important enough to persuade them to have more than one child.  (My parents had siblings, but those stories could fill an entire blog so I’ll leave it at that.)  Before Lucy, whenever I heard people say “I just really want to have another child for my first child,” I frankly thought that was kind of silly.  Wouldn’t a second child actually detract from the attention, time and resources that can be afforded the first child?

Now, however, I’m revisiting my opinion.  I was discussing this with friends the other day and we agreed that we love the idea of having a large clan of kids (though the reality may be another story.)  I admit that part of this desire comes from watching the show Parenthood.  I seriously adored that show before I had Lucy and now I adore it even more.  Watching the big, crazy. flawed but loving Braverman family makes me wish that I could have a big ol’ clan like that of my own.  Part of it is that, since I’m an only child, we now have my parents in town (which is awesome for so many reasons) but we don’t have any cousins on the West Coast for Lucy.  Hubs’ brother has two kids, a 5-year-old girl and almost-3-year-old boy, but they live back East.  We’re trying to arrange for the cousins to meet in the next couple of months, and I know we will try to have them see each other once or twice a year, but that’s hardly the same as regular family get-togethers.  My friend T. commented that she wishes her young daughter weren’t always just surrounded by adults, and I have the same feeling.  I have friends who are like family and I hope that Lucy and their kids will end up feeling like family too….but it would never be quite the same as flesh-and-blood relatives.  And while I didn’t mind being an only child when I was younger, I admit that I started wishing I had siblings as I got older.  Being an only child is not always lonely, but it can be.  But of course, having siblings is not guaranteed to prevent loneliness, either.  As with most parenting decisions, this is one of those head-scratchers with respect to what is really best for Lucy, Hubs and me.

Regardless of whether we have more kids or not, I’ve been thinking a lot about how important it is for us to create traditions within our family for Lucy to look forward to.  A year or two ago, a woman I know whose daughter is an only child picked my brain about what my experience was like as an only child.  I told her without hesitation, “Create traditions.”  For example, for Easter my parents would create a treasure hunt of clues leading up to an Easter basket at the end of the search.  (I may need my parents’ expert help with clues if we do this for Lucy!)  For Christmas Eve, we would go out for Chinese food with our best family friends whose son was my age, and then go back to their house for dessert and gifts.  His parents became like an aunt and uncle to me.   (My mom sent me this interesting article about a woman whose family also had the Chinese food tradition…now I’m reading her memoir, which is fantastic.)  And on Christmas, “Santa” would save an extra-special gift for me until I was totally done opening gifts and had moved on with the  other activities of the day.  (One year my dad had me check the clothes in the dryer, but instead of laundry there was a gift.  I always knew it was coming but every year I would still think, “Maybe this is the year they’ll stop…”  I kid you not when I say they still did this until two years ago.)

For their part, Hubs’ family had the tradition (which they continue to this day) of going to Sea Isle City on the Jersey shore for 1-2 weeks each summer.  This tradition began over 40 years ago when Hubs’ parents and two other couples started going before they had kids.  Then Hubs was born, then his siblings and the other couples’ kids.  Now almost all of the “kids” have kids, and the whole clan still congregates there every summer and rents a big house together.  I went for the first time this past summer (Hubs hadn’t gone in 10 years because it’s not an easy trip from L.A.) and I have to say it was pretty amazing.  I got to meet the kids Hubs grew up with, and now all their kids are having the same experience.  I’ve already decided that I want us to start going regularly in a couple of years when Lucy is a bit older.  Maybe not every year, but enough that Lucy will grow up knowing her cousins and these other friends, and having something to look forward to every summer.

And maybe, if she ends up being our one and only, she will do what I did and her friends will become her second family.

To be continued…