On Being An Only Child

“You are leaving tomorrow, AND I AM GLAD!”
Spencer, age 7

You know what’s funny? Taking three kids into the house of an only child and forcing that child to share stuff for three days straight.

You know what’s even funnier? The fact that only children are exactly like children with siblings.

Oh, yes. I want to believe as badly as other mamas with more than one child that having multiple kiddos somehow makes them better at sharing or more willing to compromise or gives them better life skills.

That would mean a lot more pats on the back for me. It would be gratifying, knowing that my chaotic life serves a bigger purpose. And it would allow me to finally, finally make a solid attempt at climbing Mt. Superior. I would be able to say that my reason for having five kids is NOT equal parts serendipity and accident. NAY! My reason for having five kids is because it’s better this way.

That would be grand.

That would be AWESOME.

Unfortunately, it’s not true.

Because I will tell you what: Mr. Spencer reacted to the invasion of his home EXACTLY like my kids do. He was 80% gracious and generous and willing to compromise and share… and 20% insanely, out-of-his-ever-loving-mind irritated.

Just like God intended.

Spencer is the kid who didn’t want to go sledding but who donned his snow gear every time my littles wanted to go outside, and who – totally self-motivated – trooped up and down the hill retrieving the sled for two 5-year-old boys who couldn’t quite manage it themselves.

He’s the same kid who shared his Nerf guns.

He’s the same kid who desperately didn’t want his car track broken and implored his friends to use it respectfully.

He’s the same kid who ran to gather my little southern hicks and herd them to safety, away from the killer moose.

He’s the same kid who declared, on the final night of our invasion that “having little brothers is the WORST” and who told my Miss Aden, one of his best friends in the universe, “You are leaving tomorrow, AND I AM GLAD!”

And who begged us the next morning not to leave…

And who wondered when we can come back…

And who squeezed me 3 times until he used all of his strongest hugging muscles to my satisfaction…

And who asked when he gets to visit our house where our kids will be 80% gracious and generous and willing to compromise and share… and 20% insanely, out-of-their-ever-loving-minds irritated.

I’m reminded of the one billion times each of my own children has come to me with a version of “You are leaving tomorrow, AND I AM GLAD!”

Theirs is, “I WISH I WAS AN ONLY CHILD.” Heh heh. Which is pretty much the same as, “I LOVE playing with you! You’re my very best friend. Now LEAVE ME ALONE before I eat your FACE.”

It turns out that being an only child is, well, being a child.

I love you, I love you, I love you. Come here, come here, come here.  Now go away; ICan’tBreathe.

Or maybe that’s just being human.

ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
  1. We are very grateful, on behalf of our only child, to LeeAnn and the ‘pseudo-sibs’, Cai, Cael, Henry, etc. for both their 80% graciousness and 20% irritability. It’s good for her.

  2. You are just amazing! I love your writing.
    That is all. 🙂

  3. Hello long lost sparkle sister! I heard about this from Rita Bingham who heard about it from Judy, what a beautiful family you and Greg have!! I was up way too late reading past posts the other night, in the good and the bad you have such an amazing joyful attitude and the rare ability to be thankful in all circumstances. I am inspired by you!

    1. LISA! So nice of you to stop by and say hi. HI!

      Since Greg’s folks moved north, we don’t see Rita’s brag books anymore. I hope you/yours are doing well!


      sparkle sister – hehehe

    1. No. I could be horribly, terribly wrong about everything I post. i am, after all, writing in a constant state of sleep deprivation. You should keep that in mind AT ALL TIMES.

  4. so having ‘a gazillion’ siblings (which is literally what our daughter said about the amount of brothers she now has… 😉 ) absolutely won’t teach my kids better life skills??? darn…

    1. Hehehe. Not as far as I can tell. But, I want you to know, that it brings me no pleasure to tell you so.

      Three of my very closest friends have only children. Two of those families chose intentionally to have no more than one. And their kids are all well-adjusted, have friends, do well in school, etc. etc. etc.

      Sad, right?? 😉

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