Is one kid enough? Is five too many?

“When are you having your second? I mean, you are, right? You can’t just have one child. Only children are just so…weird.”

President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Leonardo da Vinci. John Lennon. Natalie Portman. All only children. Weird? Maybe, but in the best way, not in a “Why is your child licking the wall again?” kind of way.

Nonetheless, it is a question I still hear, even though my son is 8.

I have asked him several times over the years if he wished he had a sibling (more to squash societally imposed guilt than to give him an actual option.) His answer is and will always be: NO.

He likes being an only child. He plays Legos for hours without a little sister stealing the knights for her Barbies. He gets all the leftover Halloween candy. There is room for all of us in the “big bed” when he is sick. He got to name the puppy.

There is an urban legend that sibling-less kids have no social skills. I think most children in general lack social skills, but my son has two cousins his age and they get to fight and pinch and steal each other’s stuff and miss each other terribly when they’re apart (I imagine just like he would do with a sibling). The magic is that I get to send my adorable nieces back to my brother and giggle back into my silent house.

Yes, I am a selfish mom. I like quiet. I like to travel. I like to eat lunch in fancy places. I like to do all of these things with my kid. I like only being responsible for one other person. I can handle that.

Despite those somewhat shallow perks, I know what I am potentially missing out on. What if my son grows up to hate me? What if he moves to India and I never see him? What if he always chooses his partner’s house for holidays? That’s why I try to be the best mom I can today while he has no other choice.

So when I get asked why I don’t have more children, my answer is this: “I am a good mom to one.” And I am in awe of those who are great moms to many.

Sabrina Golebiewski, mom to five between the ages of 2 and 11, says, “We get a lot of stares and the ever-present, ‘Wow, you’ve got your hands full!’ My response is always the same. ‘Better to be full than empty.’”

Sabrina and her husband Tom knew they wanted a large family before they were married. They had envisioned four kiddos to complete their home.

“When we finally decided to actively try to get pregnant, we had no idea that it would take well over four years for that stick to turn pink for the first time, but then the babies just came, including a fifth bonus baby,” she laughs.

Certainly there are sacrifices made with a large family to clothe and feed.  “Having our family is way more important than new cars (minivans!) every year,” Sabrina says.

I know how overwhelmed I can feel with “just one,” at times. My mind literally shuts off when I try to picture a bad morning when you are outnumbered by five.  

“I am super blessed to have an amazing connection with many mom-friends, whom I can turn to when the poo hits the fan. Be it one kid or nine, every mama has her breaking point,” Sabrina acknowledges. “To think that at one time we didn’t think we would even be blessed with one, let alone five! We are wonderfully blessed and wouldn’t do anything differently.”

Maggie Knowles used to cover the dining and theater scene in Boston. Then she had her son, so now she writes about all things kid. She and her family live in Yarmouth, where she gardens, keeps bees and refuses to get rid of her stilettos.

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