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Would You Consider Having Only One Child?

Sarah Preston Gorenstein

It’s nothing I’d ever thought of before, but lately I’ve been asking myself if I could be okay with having only one child. You never know what life has in store for you, and if having two or three kids isn’t in the cards for us, I wonder: How would I feel about having only one child?

My heart is so filled with love for Preston: With each new stage, I find myself more and more in love with him. Now that he’s finally walking, he’s become this independent little man, calling the shots in our house, and everywhere else (you should've seen him commanding the park on Sunday, like he owned it). He’s the sweetest, cutest, funniest, most vocal little kid I know—I love being his mom more than I ever dreamed I would, and I love him more than I ever knew was possible. And sometimes I feel like that love is fulfilling enough, should that be all there is for us.

But the truth is, I ache for a house full of children. Having this big brood sitting around the dinner table is something I long for. I know this is strange to say, but I watch Keeping Up With the Kardashians and I feel a twinge of jealousy over the huge, crazy family they have. I love how close all the sisters are; I love how close the kids are with Kris and Bruce Jenner. For all of the criticisms they each get, I think the bond they have as a family more than makes up for whatever their shortcomings are perceived to be. It's amazing and special and I totally envy it. I grew up with one older sibling, my brother Michael, who’s four years older than I am, and none of our cousins ever lived near us. We had the exact opposite kind of upbringing as the Kardashians. (Still, the mere mention of "Tampons" or "poopy diapers" at the dinner table would send my dad flying out of the dining room in a fit.)

We’re a close family unit, but a small one. I want the big family that I never had—my own big family.

But when reality sets in, I realize I didn’t start making this family till I was 34 years old, and I am quickly (too quickly) approaching 37—on April 15—and I know that having three kids isn’t very realistic at this point in my life. It’s possible, of course, but not likely. I've been saying for a while now that I want to be done having kids by the time I turn 40. (I also thought I’d be married with three kids by the time I was 30—ha!)

With our quest to get pregnant taking longer than I’d hoped, the dream of having three kids is starting to dissipate. It’s something both my husband and I have always wanted, but we need to get number two squared away before we can really think about number three. It’s hard not to get ahead of ourselves though. I mean, we only dated for eight months before getting engaged (and were engaged for exactly six months!). We've been on the fast track since we started seeing each other back in 2007...

Plus, I’m a big dreamer, and a longterm planner. 

We already have our hands quite full as parents to one. With a new-ish marriage, parenthood, our demanding careers, and our own respective families (my husband’s side of the family is huge and fun, they could have their own reality show), we have very full lives already.

Sometimes I can’t imagine it being any different—another tiny person in the house scares me a little (and by a little I mean a lot). I’ve heard the transition from one to two is harder than the transition from two to three (is that true?). It all looks hard to me…especially now that we finally got the first one figured out.

I feel so blessed for the amazing child I already have—I don't think I even have the right to want more. But I do. I want a sibling for Preston; at least one sibling. I want a permanent play mate for him. And I want to hold a newborn in my arms again; that’s the selfish part of me talking. But mostly, I want that house full of screaming children, who will one day become bickering adults—I want my own little party posse.

But if Preston is all I get, of course I could be okay with it—I’d have to be. I’m sure I’d be devastated, but I would find a way to live with it. He has brought me more happiness than I ever thought possible. Even in my darkest days, one look at his face lights me up. If he’s our only child, I could do a helluva lot worse.

Have you ever considered having one child? Or do you have only one child? Or are you only one child yourself? And if so, have you ever felt like you were missing out on something?