For some bizarre reason, the following article has been making its way around my Facebook feed: 8 Things Never to Say to a Mom of an Only Child. Even if you haven’t seen it in the last week or so, the odds are decent that you did at some point. This is NOT a new piece, by any stretch of the imagination, and, to be honest, the sentiments conveyed aren’t exactly new or earth-shattering either. Nonetheless, it seems to be making its rounds again.
And it’s got people on the defensive.
(Back when I was a mom of one– of course, that didn’t last long for me. )
First of all, let me just state that I don’t typically find this sort of list particularly helpful. That might strike you as odd, since I’ve written two of them myself– one about preemies and one about gifted kids. The difference, I hope, is that I also offer suggestions of good things to say because, really, that’s what’s helpful. The point of the article shouldn’t be to make others feel like insensitive jackheads. It should be to proactively educate and help reframe reactions and responses. At least, that’s what I wast trying to do.
The piece linked above, however, doesn’t do that. It basically calls people out for saying rude, insensitive things and leaves off with a smug, “See? Don’t you feel like a jerk?” attitude. For that reason, I’m not a fan.
What has been even more interesting to me, though, is reading others’ responses to the post. I fully expected to see both “right ons!” and “this is absurds!”– and I did. I figured there’d be some eye-rolling– and there was. But I can’t lie to you. I hadn’t predicted what seems to be the biggest backlash I’ve seen. And it’s against this line–
“It’s so hard with three kids.” The inverse of #3, but still, worth repeating. Are you implying that my job as mom isn’t as hard as yours?
- “OMG– is she CRAZY? My life IS harder!”
- “Ha! Of COURSE it’s easier to only have one kid than three! She’s nuts.”
- “I’ve had only one kid and I can tell you that it is WAY harder now that I have more than that.”
- “How stupid. One kid is as hard as three? Ha. Stupid.”
- … and on and on.
Let me tell you– people with more than one kid were on the ATTACK! Nevermind that the author is actually very careful to frame that paragraph and doesn’t even try to really “compete.” I’m not sure how anyone read it as commentary that parents of multiple children have it easy, but whatever.
The point is– the crowd went wild. In a very bad way. Soooooo defensive and so quick to point out why, of course, life is much, much, MUCH more difficult for those with, say (since it was the writer’s example), three kids.
But here’s the thing–
Not only do I think that people really need to calm the heck down and just mosy on if they don’t like a piece, but I also don’t even agree with them.
I, the mother of three children, do not believe that it is harder than having one child.
And here’s why–
- I likely, though not definitely, have more activities to orchestrate into a schedule.
- I likely, though not definitely, have more homework assignements to oversee.
- I likely, though not definitely, have more gear to pack into the minivan.
- I likely, though not definitely, have more laundry to do in any given week.
Yet, despite that, you know what?
Having just my youngest home during the school year was far harder than having all three home in the summer.
Having my parents take two out of three for a sleepover always leaves me more worn out than refreshed.
Having my oldest gone for the afternoon doesn’t make my life any simpler.
In short, having one kid is not easier than having three.
When I have only one kid with me?
I am IT.
I am the entertainment. I am the reader. I am the one pretending. I am the one helping. I am the one fetching, reaching, finding. I am the one dressing up. I am the puzzle-builder. I am the listener. I am the one carrying on the conversation. I AM EVERYTHING.
All of this was working through my brain when, over the weekend, I was catching up on reading one of my favorite sites. And you know what? I laughed out loud. Amy and I have a bit of a history of thinking about and writing about similar things at the same time. Fun fact: we even started our blogs on the exact same day of the exact same year. So, when I read this post, I wanted to reach through the screen and high-five her.
While she has twice (!) as many children as I do, she’s pretty much making the same points I am– sometimes, having more children in the home doesn’t make it tougher. It actually makes it easier. This is particularly true for those with large familes, or, more accurately, widely-spaced children, but even with my narrower gaps, it holds true.
And so, I have to admit I’m not sure what was going on with all those commenters. Were they having bad days? Do their kids really not entertain one another worth a hoot? Or do we just live in a “woe is me” society that likes to point out why yours truly has it just SO much tougher than everyone else?
I don’t really know.
But, while I stand by my words that it’s not a helpful article, I will also go on record as saying I wasn’t offended by her remark about one versus three kids.
In fact, that might be the one thing we can agree upon.