Wednesday, January 23, 2019

1y11m : Siblings aren't all that

As we approach the 2-year mark, I find that I am getting more and more comfortable and content with MJ being an only child.  My new pet peeve is that it seems culturally fine to talk about how great siblings are and everything you 'get' from a sibling relationship, but it's not really okay to talk about how it may not always be so great.  I guess what happens, is those on the cultural norm side suddenly feel the way I feel all the time on this topic, and decide to jump in and be defensive.

So a friend of mine posted this article on Facebook today and I thought it was really interesting.  I will also add this is a friend with two siblings, neither of which he gets on with, and that family politics are a continual annoyance for him (he's in his 40's).  Part of the issue in his family is that his parents don't necessarily treat their children the same, or give them the same benefits.  Then some of the children ask for more from the parents than others, which when given, causes resentment.  What a minefield!

I was recently reading another thread on a solo mom Facebook group about someone trying to work out if they should have a second child or not.  So many people posted about not wanting their child to be alone, and especially to care for them in old age on their own.  I thought there were two excellent responses to this worth repeating here.  First, although I am a single parent who didn't find someone to create a family with, I hope with all my heart that MJ finds someone for her.  Frankly, I don't expect her to be 'alone' the way I am alone.  And even if she is, it's not that big a deal- I'm an adult single parent whose parents are divorced so I have two elderly parents to be on the hook for.  And I'm okay. It will be easier for me to deal with things if I don't have to discuss it with, or worse, argue with, someone else about what should be done when the time comes.  To be honest, I feel a bit like this about parenting as well most of the time. Thank god I don't have to discuss my parenting decisions and choices and my own life choices with anyone else.  That would be much harder!!

But as for this 'taking care of parents' comment that seems to pop up all the time, that's my other point worth noting.  Most women are shit at preparing for their futures. Historically, men in families have worried about things like pensions and savings. Women, historically, have been shit at it. This trend continues today with many men saving more for retirement and being more prepared than women.  If you don't want your child to be 'stuck taking care of you' in old age, then it is your responsibility to prepare for your own care! If you blow all of your money on a second child and put yourself into debt and have zero savings at the end, you are almost guaranteeing that your child will be responsible for you because who else will?

Forgive me for thinking that you need to be a little bit responsible before deciding to have a child. If you can't afford one financially or emotionally, then please do not have one! Yes, people get by with little and it doesn't necessarily need to cost a lot to have a child. But if you are not taking care of yourself and are unable to prepare for your end of life needs because you sacrifice everything for a child, then I think that's really irresponsible.

I can't possibly talk about this on pretty much any of the single mom forums I'm on because it is guaranteed to offend someone.  God forbid you talk about why having additional children could be irresponsible or may not be the best thing you could ever possibly do for your existing child.  Yet somehow, it's completely fine to talk about having additional child in a similar fashion.  I'm also keenly aware that for some women, they have put themselves into debt for their one child and that this would come across as judgmental to them and they would get upset and feel defensive.  So I'll just have to keep my thoughts here.

In my opinion (this is my blog after all), the only reason you should have a child be it your first or your fifth, is because you want the experience of parenting that child, and you are able (financially and emotionally) to do so.  That's it!

I love MJ to pieces and I love our life together and I think it would be interesting to see her have a sibling or for me to have another child. But, I actually really don't feel any desire to PARENT another child. I think of it more as an interesting thought experiment. I like to toy with the idea of it, but the reality of moving ahead leaves me cold. So having another child is simply not for me, and our life together will be much better for it, because I will be the best me, and therefore, the best parent, I can be.