I’ll preface by saying that there are benefits and detriments to every family configuration. And there are way more factors at play in a person’s development than just birth order. It is an entirely personal decision, how many – if any – children to have, so please don’t breed – or not – on my account. (Like you would! I know!)
Things that I appreciated about being an only child, when I was a kid:
– no hand me downs
– no enforced sharing with bratty younger siblings
– my own bedroom! Decorated just the way I wanted!
Things I should have appreciated more, when I was a kid:
– my parents’ undivided attention
– the opportunity to travel (which is also due to my dad’s superior financial planning abilities – the man is cape-worthy)
– living in a stable home, in a stable neighbourhood, with the same friends, for the length of my school career (this, so that I didn’t have to keep making new friends over and over..although that skill probably would have served me well in the long run)
Things I appreciate now:
– my independence (which, I’ve learned over the years, is best tempered with a healthy bit of dependence)
– my creativity – some of which is inherited and a lot of which developed because I had to do something with my brain when my parents were occupied and all my friends were busy
– my reluctance – actually an inability, a lot of the time – to take sides in a dispute. On my resume, this reads “diplomatic and tactful.” No, this website is not on my resume.
– my sense of responsibility (though this is also best tempered)
– my love of solitude
Contrary to popular opinion about only children, I wasn’t lonely, or spoiled, or anti-social. I had lots of friends, in part because we lived in a neighbourhood with two elementary schools, and in part because my parents made an effort to have me have lots of friends. They both came from big families that were far away, so they had to find their community and make lots of friends here, too. And as for the spoiling, I say HA. Only child meets Superhero of Financial Planning Who Wants His Mortgage Paid off Before He Turns 45 = no new shoes unless you absolutely need them. I had knock-off Barbies just like the rest of you. (but a real “Midnight” the Barbie horse, bought for me by my aunt)
I like who I am. Being an only child is part of who I am. And it’s a good conversation starter. But I still wish I had a sibling. The kind you get along with, the kind you get together with every few years and laugh way too much.
I know there are no guarantees of that kind of relationship with a sibling. I have lots of cousins, many of whom are close to my heart. And I have lots of very good friends that I only see every few years (even the ones who live in the same city!) and laugh too much with.
The thing is: at the end of this line, the train stops. When my parents are gone, it’s just me. I am the only one who will remember Halloween, 1988, when the man who was renting our basement suite dressed up like Miss Piggy, total pig drag, and he was about 6’4″ in his heels and he scared the bejeepers out of the neighbourhood children.
OK, now you guys know about it, you’ll remember too, right?
Maybe that’s why I’ve been a compulsive documenter all my life. The journal has always been my sibling. (Which explains why I want to set it on fire all the time.) And why I’m driven to friendships that matter, that will last, even through hiatuses of 2, 4, 6 years.
Maybe if I’d had a sibling I would have become a marine biologist! Or an accountant! I think I would certainly be better at math. Whew. Close call, guys.