Having had just one child for the last three weeks (and with them both being home for only one night before Lindsay heads off to camp for a week) I have been pondering "only" children - or Solo's..... We have several in the child care programs we run, our neighbours have one son and one of my co-workers is an adult only child.
I am impressed by a couple of things about parenting an "only" and being an adult only child.
Firstly, parenting a solo / only child is harder work that you might think. You really exist as a threesome (Mom / Dad / Child) and it is hard to split it any way that doesn't leave someone out. Of course Lindsay is of an age where she is out and about with friends alot of the time so that makes it easier but now when David is home as the only child next week he will need more companionship and Allan and I will have to make sure we have plans for him. I am so impressed with how our neighbours are such good companions to their only child and spend so much time with him pursuing his interests.
I also have appreciated the one-on-one time with Lindsay these past weeks and we have had some great connecting moments that came naturally. Normally I am juggling time with each child and making sure I create those alone times so it was nice to have them just happen. I know most parents of multiples actively seek out time with each child from time to time to have those special times with "Just Mom" or "Just Dad". Sometimes it is as simple as a trip to get groceries but if its intentional it can be meaningful.
I wonder how David will make the adjustment of coming from 3 weeks of being one of 7 kids to being a solo...... I suspect he will miss those cousins more than he can imagine......but might also enjoy some downtime from social interactions.... it will be interesting to see.
I also have some friends who are solo parenting for various reasons and they have my respect for the time they put in without a partner to hand off to when they are tired or mad or sad. They have to keep going and they have an especially hard time not just to find solo time for each child but to find some solo time for themselves.
One of my colleagues is an adult only child. In the past two months both her parents have face serious health crises. There is alot on her shoulders and while she has a very supportive husband, the decision making and worry are hers to carry. She and her young family are contemplating selling their house and moving in with her parents so they can be a support. Of course there will be mutual benefits but that is alot of responsibility for her to carry.
It strikes me that we, the friends and colleagues, of adult solo's need to step up and be their family in whatever way makes sense and is supportive.
So hats off to parents of solo's for all your hard work, to parents of multiples who seek to find solo time with your children, to solo parents and to adult solo's carrying a big load on your own - help us know how to best help you and be your friends, sisters and brothers.