Not long after my daughter was born, I met two ladies in my neighborhood for coffee. All three of us had just delivered baby girls, but I was the only first-time Mommy in the group. My husband had taken two-weeks of paternity leave but once that ended, I was home alone with my very demanding baby. I was scared out of my mind and really needed advice from women who had been there ... done that.
During the conversation, one of the ladies said something about “only children.” I can’t remember why this topic came up but as she was starting to gossip about someone’s only child, she paused, looked at me and asked, “You aren’t going to be one of those people who only has one child are you because only children are always such freaks?” I quickly shook my head no, because at the time, I was only focused on the “only one child” part and not the thoughtless, cruel “always such freaks” part.
Fast forward, three plus years and numerous amounts of time and money spent on infertility treatments. I’m finally reaching the “acceptance” phase of grief. I’m accepting the fact that my daughter quite possibly might be an only child. Not by my choice but by a choice being made for us by the universe. We have no money left for more infertility treatments or adoption. We’re tapped. This appears to be the end of the road for us. We are a family of three, and I’m working on being okay with that.
But I keep thinking about the mean-spirited comment made by that second-time mom so many years back. Does she even remember making the statement to me? Does she look at my three-year-old daughter and wonder why in the world we don’t hurry up and have another one before the freak-factor sets in? Does she realize how many times I’ve reflected on her statement with fear that my only-child will turn out to be a freak because she has no siblings?
Events in our lives have a way of giving us a cosmic kick in the behind, forcing us to let go of old, set-in-stone ways of thinking and select new paths. A friend recently told me that she hated Sarah Palin because she cut government funding for special needs children until she had one of her own. My guess is that Ms. Palin got one of those cosmic kicks in the behind that forced her to look through a different set of glasses. And she didn’t like what she saw ... so she changed. And change is good, especially when it makes us better people.
If I were a much braver person, I’d approach said woman and tell her how much her statement so many years ago still hurts me today. But I’m not brave. I’m a big, ole coward so I’ll continue to try to move past the pain on my own. And just hope I never have to deal with my daughter’s tears because a kid at school calls her a freaky only child.