Don't ever have only one child (mild rant)

If you’re planning on having kids, or have one, don’t settle for only one.

I never missed siblings when I was a kid. All attention was on me, I got loads of gifts from grandparents for Christmas and birthday, not having to share. I had friends and didn’t realize what having siblings meant. From what my friends told me, having a brother or sister was a major pain in the rear.

Since a little before 40 and increasingly so after turning 40, I’ve started to miss having siblings. It’s some small things and some big stuff. Among the small things is the possibility to not celebrate Christmas with my parents. My mom always say “Will you be home for Christmas?” I answer that I guess so and she replies: “Well, you really don’t have to, if you have something else going on, it’s just that your father and I are so happy when you’re…”
It would’ve been nice to be able to make a call: “Hey sis, you’re on Christmas duty this year, I’m taking off partying in London.” It would’ve been nice if mom had someone else to focus her attention on, someone to call when the first snow falls and tell to put on warm clothes. I know she loves me, and means well, but it’s kinda embarrising for a 42 year old man to have his mother ask if he’s eating enough, and making sure I have clean underwear. I roll my eyes, tell her I love her and say that I’ve managed to live by my own for 22 years now without starving to death, gettiing evidted for a messy house, or having an accident and not wearing clean underwear (I’ve had some minor accidents, tho).

And it would have been nice to have a brother or sister today, when my dad died.

At 11.05 a.m. his body didn’t want to fight the lung cancer any more. We knew it was coming, he got the diagnosis early in 2001, and it’s been borrowed time for quite a while. He’d been fighting the illness succesfully for over 2,5 years and was doing OK most of the time. But it turned to worse about six weeks ago.

Now comes the time for the funeral, insurances, taking care of his stuff, cleaning out his room at the ward where he got his final hospital care. In many ways, I’m relieved, because at the end, it was quick, and he hardly suffered. It was only this past weekend that the pain got severe. It wasn’t a surprise, and I’m not grieving, though I feel kinda guilty about not crying over him. Maybe I will, when I finally realize what’s happened.

This mini-rant is just to say that I’m feeling very lonely now, and would’ve liked to have someone to share the burden with. I had my relationship with my dad, but it certainly isn’t the same as my mom’s, who met my dad in '54, got engaged in '55 and married in '58. Of course, we can comfort each other. We have to, because our family was just me and mom and dad. My mom has no siblings either and my dad broke with his famile over 30 years ago. Didn’t even go to my grandfather’s or grandmother’s funeral.

It’s at times like these, that I look at my friends who have bigger families, and envy them.

A p.s. I know there are Dopers who have faith. While I can appreciate the gesture of prayers, should someone show up and offer them, I myself am free of religion.

I’m sorry for your loss.

Condolences on your loss. My Mother in law died of lung cancer as well. I’ll light a candle for your father.

A small touch of advice: while now, you may want to dispose of your father’s belongings, hold onto some. They can be a great comfort later, for you and your mother.

I can’t really imagine how you must feel, but… You know. Take it easy. :frowning:

There’s a candle lit upstairs. I’ve never been good with matches, so I’ll just declare that one for your father. If that’s at all comforting.

Please accept my condolences for the loss of your father. While my mother had always been insistent it’s wrong to have only children (she was an unhappy “only” herself) your line of reasoning is much more convincing.

I’m so sorry. My father died about 10 years ago, unexpectedly, and my mother, sister, and I tried to comfort each other. I don’t know if a sibling would have helped you or not - in my case, I decided to take on the “strong one” role for those two at the time, and found my grieving was delayed for a while, as a result. So I felt a fair amount of burden on me at the time, as well.

Some years later, my (paternal) grandfather had died after a very long illness, and we all felt much the same as you do - a strange sense of relief, with perhaps some nagging guilt about not quite feeling sad enough, it seemed.

I wish you and your mother well.

I’m sorry for the loss of your father, and I’m sorry that you only have your mother as family now.

I must confess, I have only one child myself. I felt, and still feel, that having an only child is the right choice for my husband and me. However, she’s got LOTS of aunts, uncles, and cousins on both sides of the family, and when she and a cousin (another only child) were 7-16, I used to take them both on outings, and do things with them both, so that both of them got some “sibling” time in.

Sorry about your father. My parents are getting old, and I keep in touch with them very much.

Having a brother or sister is fine if you get along. I have an older sister, and when we were growing up she was a bossy ass bitch. Not to say I was any kind of angel myself, but I was the kind of kid who would agree to stay out of your business if you did likewise. I would have been much happier without her as a sister.

We get along now. She survived two bad husbands and has raised three good kids, but she still likes to try to take control at times when it is not appropriate. I would not want to be her best friend.

So in a way I can see what you are saying, you could use a friendly sibling now, but many of us with siblings know well that they can be a pain in the ass.

You have friends, don’t you. Although relationships with non-related friends are usually shorter in duration, they are based on mutual interest and goals, and can run just as emotionally deep.

Wow. Gaspode, i’m touched by your “rant”.
It makes such a good point, how things are better in the long run.

You’ve really made me think; Thanks.

I’m so sorry about the death of your father.

I’m very sorry for your loss.

I am so sorry. My heart goes out to you and your mother.

Ouch. So sorry to hear it, Gaspode. Our best to you and mom.

I am an only child too, but it was not supposed to be that way. I had a brother who died of spinal meningitis at the age of 8 before I was born. I was born, then another baby was born that died. I did not learn about this kid until I was an adult.

My parents were good people, but very controlling at times. My mother’s family were somewhat estranged from her, but my father’s family was cool to be with, I had a lot of cousins to play with and goof around with. Unfortunately, the family lived hundreds of miles away from us, and we could only see them on summer vacations. I have not really seen those people in years.

I tend to do things on my own and be a loner. A lot of the time, i really disliked people and stayed away from them. I had a lot of problems growing up at times. I had friends that were only children also, except for one guy I knew in High School who had two younger brothers. I envied him, although my friend wanted to strangle them at times.

I think some of us “only children” do have issues and problems, having to grow up in an “all adult” environment. I have always thought that a support group for only children would be a good thing.

Are you married? You know if your family population is a little on the low side, I would find a good woman to settle down with. Have children of your own if you can. I am married now, and have 4 brother in laws and a sister in law and numerous nephews and nieces.

I’m sorry to hear about your loss, Gaspode. My thoughts are with you and your mother.

Y’know Gaspode. I started reading your post, and got to the end of the first big paragraph where you were whingeing about your mum ringing you to enquire about your diet and underwear changes, and I was gonna PIT YOU for being such a lousy unappreciative jerk of a son.

Then I read the next line, and I cried for you.

Take it gently Gaspode and even though you don’t have any dinkum brothers and sisters to share with, I reckon that there are maybe one or two or three-hundred people here who will listen to your reflections, and mourn with you and even laugh with you, and help you through this bloody awful time. We might not have known your dad, but we can still be there for YOU.

Take it easy mate.

Half of me wants to pit you…Half of me wants to hug you. I am sorry your father died. I am an only child too. My father died when I was 19. He had AIDS, and lived ten years with it. I learned my father was going to die when I was 11. I never (not once) thought it would be easier to deal with my situation if I had a sibling or two.

You’ve been duped into thinking that I am writing this continuously. Nothing could be farther from the truth. I just counted to 10 (very slowly) and realized something. Here I am, a 26 year old who has the audacity to tell a 42 year old how it is. Like I said, I was going to pit you. But the more I think about it, the shame of my father’s illness would have been less if I had someone my age to share it with. Thanks Gaspode. I learned something tonight.

By the way, my friend, seven years later, I haven’t cried about my father dying. I’ve held my mother in my arms while she cried on my shoulder on too many occasions to count, but I have never cried. I wanted him to die. 8 years is a long time to watch someone die. Don’t feel guilty about not crying, Gaspode. Just remember him. And be there for your mother. It’s just the two of you, just like it is for my mother and I. She’ll be there for you too, when and if you do finally break. I know my mom will, and I love her for it.

My thoughts are with you. And thank you again for teaching me something tonight.

No. Not married. Have been engaged three times, but it didn’t work out. I guess there’s something in my family working against procreation.

Thank you very much, all. I mean it.

It does help to vent here. I do have a lot of friends, my own age. And while we can share and talk about hard things, there’s something about a parents death that make them… a bit uneasy. Probably because they all have parents in an age range (65-80), where death quickly is becomming the real thing. The death of my father, and his illness before that, reminds them of their own parents.

I know some people have less than a perfect relationship with their siblings, and maybe my wishful thinking about what it would’ve been like to have a brother or sister, is getting in the way. I still can’t help but feel that it would’ve been nice, though. And I do miss it more with age, never missed a sibling, when I was a teen.
I do know that I grew up as a conceited, self-absorbed, precaucious (sp?) child. And even if I don’t blame my parents, and have to accept responsibility for myself, I think those are reasons why I never could make a relationship work in my younger years.

I am a loner, with a vivid imagination. I can so relate to Calvin and Spaceman Spiff. Calvin is what I was as a six year old.

I’m digging myself down, being ‘the strong one’ and taking care of practicalities. Haven’t cried yet.

I sympathise completely, Gaspode, and I’m very sorry for your loss. I agree, being an only child sucks when you’re older. I have the same problem with my mum, bless her – she’s agoraphobic and worried intensely about everything, particularly me. My dad has always had high expectations of me and I have to work doubly hard to be a good daughter. Even though I moved out a long time ago, I still feel that they are living their lives through me and it’s very hard not to feel guilty about this. And now they are getting old, and I dread having to experience them getting ill or senile all on my own.

On the other hand, relationships between parents and only children can be some of the best in the world. It’s more a relationship of equals than can be found in larger families and can be very rewarding. I don’t know anything about your relationship with your parents, but I hope it was a close and fulfilling as mine with my parents has been (if annoying and dysfunctional at times as well).

I’m sorry to hear about your loss. It’s never easy experiencing death but it’s something we all must face sooner or later.

I have to say that I’ve thought about having another child (I have one 3 year old girl) and under the circumstances, it scares me to death.

My daughter is autistic, diagnosed at the age of two, and although she’s high functioning, the thought of having another autistic child terrifies me. The risks of having another autistic child are greater for me and as much as I love (and a lot of the time, feel luckier to have an autistic child compared to a typical child – I see so many typical “brats” out there) her, I don’t have the strength to raise another one with such a condition.

It makes me sad but I can’t risk it. I just read an article about a family with three diagnosed autistic kids and a new baby. They don’t know if the baby will have it, too, and so they must wait for the signs. Three autistic kids, all in varying degrees. The mother has since stopped working to take care of the kids full-time but the family income is suffering badly. It takes a lot of cash to raise a special needs child.

I have one, she’s got three, maybe four. How she does it, I have no idea. I do what I have to do for my one but it’s very hard. The bond I have with my daughter is the most wonderful thing in the universe but dealing with government agencies, doctors, therapists and such, makes life tough. I’m happy, don’t think I’m not, but I couldn’t deal with another child.