The internet is weird.
Almost 15 years ago (pre-blog, pre-kid, pre-mature) at my first job after college, I briefly worked with a woman named Brenna Jennings. (I almost called it my first “real” job but I think Brenna will agree that “real” barely applies.) We weren’t exactly friends but she was a lot taller than me so that was my fault.
Cut to a decade and a half later when I recognized her name on the byline of a funny piece on The Huffington Post and immediately went to her hilarious, like-minded blog, Suburban Snapshots. I reached out, explained who I was several times until she pretended to remember me, and we rekindled what I can only refer to as an adversarial, she-had-no-time-for-me-and-I-was-scared-of-her relationship. And then I asked Brenna, a self-described “working mom who blogs it out because vodka has too many calories,” to write a guest post on Dad and Buried.
After almost a year, she finally obliged.
Brenna and I both have only one kid. And while Mom and Buried and I are still on the fence about adding another money-sucking, time-devouring, sex-erasing parasite (OF LOVE!) into the mix, we’re pretty close to falling off of it. Before we do, I wanted to get the perspective of someone who had made peace with the decision to have just one kid, and Brenna seemed like the perfect, foul-mouthed person to do so.
I’ve written about the only child thing in the past – both long ago and more recently, but I’ve always been conflicted.
One and Done and Probably Napping Right Now
Brenna Jennings, Suburban Snapshots
I only have one child because I am selfish and lazy. That’s what people might think, and they’re partly right. The thing is, I wasn’t even planning on having the one, so I’ve got 100% more children than I wanted.
I was surprised by my pregnancy the way you’d be surprised by slipping on a banana peel when you saw the peel and stepped on it wearing buttered tap shoes. Which is to say, it’s not like we were taking any precautions at the time.
Aside from the anxiety of having a kid I hadn’t planned on, my pregnancy was amazing – none of the pukes and all of the boobs. Nursing went smoothly, my baby enjoyed sleeping and always woke smiling, she is beautiful and funny, and now at six, she watches Saturday morning cartoons loudly enough to allow my husband and me to have sex until “Kickin’ It” is over.
Though I’ve experienced the magic that is the minivan, I’ve never had to consider buying one. The most cargo I need to lug around is Anna’s camp lunchbox. (If I had to pack two of those each morning I’d be at the grocery store right now instead of writing this piece.) When Steve and I need a night out, it’s easy to ask friends or family to watch just our one kid, and because she’s pretty used to being on her own, she’ll either play quietly by herself or she’ll revel in the novelty of your kids’ company. Don’t get me wrong, she can wreck a house like septuplets, but she’s pretty easily contented.
My husband and I have enough time to converse with each other, and we spend that time staring into separate devices and asking things like, “Oh my god, did you see this Buzzfeed quiz?” We have time to cook good food and clean up the mess afterward. We can be out of bed and into the car in less than thirty minutes, and that’s with proper hygiene; fifteen if no one brushes anything.
On weekends, we scatter around the living room and nap.
Despite common myths, our daughter isn’t lonely or socially stunted. She’s not annoyingly adult from spending so much time in our company. Yes, she asks for a little sister now and then, and without getting into the physiology of her dad’s vasectomy, I explain that it ain’t gonna happen. I have plenty of kids to borrow – my sister had three at last count, but that was yesterday. It’s possible she’s multiplied since then.
I don’t love babies. I loved my baby. And I’m sure I would have loved my second baby. But I have free time — adult time — I have a smallish car that I love and disposable income I spend on things my husband thinks are ridiculous. I can buy nice gifts for people, or hit a happy hour with friends and not have to coordinate with four other people first.
Sometimes because I am one of three sisters, I do have some guilt that Anna might not experience the camaraderie that comes with being able to start a conversation with, “Holy shit, I think Mom has finally lost it.” But Anna has something I didn’t have as a kid: lifelong friends. She will have friends she’s known since infanthood. I met my oldest friend in the eighth grade, and that bitch moved to Florida and now harasses me via text messages.
It was never a matter of feeling like my family wasn’t complete, that someone was “missing” from my house. I love my trio, I love being Anna’s mom. We made the decision to stop at one for a lot of reasons and after much debate. I’m raising a bright, hilarious, beautiful little girl who’s more social than her father after a six-pack. Some of my reasons were selfish, but I think the decision to create a human in the first place is pretty self-centered too, if you think about it.
(Editor’s Note: Ooh BURN!)
Go visit Brenna’s blog, like her Facebook page, follow her on Twitter and tell her I sent you.
14 thoughts on “Guest Post: Suburban Snapshots and the Benefits of One”
Good stuff here. We have two boys, ages 6 and 2. We live in an expensive city, so we have lots of childless pals, and lots in the One and Done crowd. Sometimes I envy them so much I want to cry. All the free time! All the going out to eat! All the long showers! All the not-having-banana-smashed-in-your-hair! We have friends who have just one daughter, aged 14, and they’re not even having that hard of a time with her teenagedness, because they’ve had so much time to cultivate such a close relationship with her. I’m green with envy. My husband only wanted one, but eventually I “talked him into” two. (Well actually, I put my feelings out there and a year later he just walked up and was like, ok, let’s do it.) Now I’m wondering about #3, haha. But who knows. I just like reading about families that are happy and confident and so in love with each other, regardless of how many kiddos they have. And I’m sure your daughter will grow up perfectly well-adjusted. I never did understand the viewpoint that people without siblings would be socially stunted. I mean, what? There’s a WHOLE WIDE WORLD full of other people to socialize with. Duh. Great read, as always.
I always enjoy Jenna’s posts because I also have a newly minted 6 year old (Aug 2) and many of her experiences seem to coincide with mine. I have some one-and-done guilt, but her posts like this make me feel better about my choice (also the occasional glass of pinot). I have never even met her, yet still consider her a friend of the internet kind, so you are one up on me;)
100% more kids than I wanted.
HAHAHAHAH…this is great. I love this.
Great post. My wife and I are one and done’rs also, and I’ve had the same guild about not providing my son with a sibling. The answer is lots of friends, and cousins.
At last count I have 18 kids with five different women and the only one of those women who complains at all is the one who only has one kid with me. Now I am not saying that one and done is the reason but maybe if baby momma would get back to doing the boot scootin boogie on her back she’d find more fun with a bun in the oven and less time to harass me.
All or none of that may be true.
I suspect the problem lies in your calling sex the “boot scootin boogie” but I’m not a professional.
Who needs one of those fancy certificates on the wall when you can be like most bloggers and just speak your mind. Think of all the money you save on college loans.
Brenna has a skill for being honest, funny, biting, and honest again. Love that about her.
Great post. Hilarious and insightful. I was an only child and decided that I just couldn’t “do that” to mine. Yes, the grass is always greener…but there’s something to be said for the enormity of THAT particular hill. Like all things parenting, it would be interesting to hear your kid’s take on it in the future, and not just your take on it and not just your take on what you think her take is. Phew. Not bashing/judging. You said it yourself we do what we do for mostly selfish reasons.
This is everything my husband is talking about when he says, “Can you imagine how awesome our life would be RIGHT NOW if we had stopped after our oldest kid?” So, thanks for confirming that my husband is right, Brenna. The Beard thanks you.
I have to disagree with the beard, because then there’d be no Mini Beard.
I also have a 6-year-old daughter — plus a 9-year-old son. I don’t have a third child for a list of reasons, but partly because I am too tired/lazy/selfish/busy/whatever to imagine juggling another human in our house. Honestly, one of the best reasons to have a second child (other than the pure science experiment curiosity of it all) is so that there’s someone else here to help entertain the first child. Some days that works out better than others. I will tell you that Brenna’s husband is getting laid a lot more than mine is, so there’s something to be said for one and done.
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