I have dealt with the stigma of being an “only child” my entire life. Never in a million years would I think that at age 29 that I would STILL be dealing with such nonsense.
A few weeks ago, my bosses and I were attending a soft opening of one of our new buildings. We were walking back from the event chatting. One boss inquired as to why I had not partaken of any of the sweets that had been on hand. I explained that I was meeting my parents for lunch that day. I was fortunate to work a flex schedule this past summer and only had to work until noon on Fridays.
“Oh, where are you going?” the other boss asked.
“Wherever they want to go,” I replied.
“Are they paying?” asked the previous boss.
While I thought this to be a rather invasive question, I said, “Yes.”
That is when my other boss said, “Keep in mind, Joe*, she is an only child.”
Both bosses began to laugh and then started to describe their difficult childhoods. Being one of four or six children. All of the spam that was consumed. The trips that never got taken.
I was boiling inside. Since they are my bosses, I did not feel that I could (or should) say anything about their disrespect towards me. So, I will share my frustration with you, my fellow bloggers.
In one of my previous posts, I presented you with a list of myths and truths about us terrible only children. Allow me to elaborate:
1. The number of children my parents decided to have is none of your business. This may sound harsh, but it is true. Since I was obviously not around to consult my parents as to the timing of my birth, how could I possibly know how many children they wanted to have? That was a discussion that they had when they planned to have me. Yes, they actually sat down and planned having a child. And why is having one child looked upon as an illness? I happen to find the opposite to be true. People that chose to have a trail of children behind them are no better than those that have one child to raise. Ultimately, if someone is that concerned about my onliness, they should really speak with my parents.
2. Only children don’t have to follow any rules. Wow! This is news to me. While my parents were not abusive, they did have a strict set of rules that I was expected to follow at all times. I was not allowed to run around wild doing whatever I wanted. My mom is a teacher and my dad works for the Illinois State Police. You can bet that the rules were enforced. And I did receive a spanking or two for blatantly disobeying my parents, same as any other child would.
3. Families with only one child eat gourmet meals 24/7. Hardly! My parents both worked full time. Not to mention the piano lessons, Girl Scout meetings and dance lessons that I was constantly being driven to. Don’t get me wrong, my mom is a fabulous cook. But, we were not eating filet minion either. Pot roast, Hamburger Helper and McDonald’s were staples in our household, as I imagine was true for many families.
4. Being an only child does not make me less than human. I apologize for all of my fellow “onlies” that fit the stereotype of being selfish. However, I am not like that at all. In fact, I used to get in trouble in kindergarten all the time for talking to the other kids. I wanted to make friends and share my toys. I was a people person from little on. And at the heart of it all, I am still a human being. Just because my parents are not the Duggars does not mean that I am somehow “broken” or “defective.” I am a smart, able-bodied woman that is capable of achieving anything that I put my mind to. Furthermore, I respect everyone no matter of their race, age or number of family members.
5. Only children feel entitled. Nope, not this girl. I had to work to earn the things that I wanted. As soon as I turned 15, I was encouraged by my parents to get a job at the local pool concession stand. A job that I held until I graduated from college. I also busted my bottom to earn every A+, scholastic award and membership into each honor society that I received. I was raised with the belief that if I wanted something, I needed to put in the time to make it happen. Nothing was handed to me simply because I wanted it…EVER!
6. Only children lead a perfectly charmed life. Seriously? I really hope that no one truly believes this. No one’s parents are perfect. We had the typical parent/child fights. My parents would be grumpy because they had had a bad day. I became a teenager…and later had a boyfriend. If anything, being an only child was harder than being a multiple because all of the focus and attention was on me 24/7. Sounds great to some, but I have basically been under the microscope my whole life. Mistakes that I made couldn’t go unnoticed due to a siblings bigger mess up. And there was no older sibling to “pave the way” when it came to dating. There was no preparing my dad for that! So, while my childhood was filled with tons of love and care, there were those days when the last place I wanted to be was home. And I know that we have all had those moments at one time or another.
7. Children will always be their parents’ children. “No matter how old you get, you will always be my baby girl,” says my mom. While it may sound corny, this is true for everyone. You will always be your parents’ child. It doesn’t matter where you live, what color you dye your hair, who you marry or chose to love. And I think that most parents like to treat their children when they can. So, yes, my parents will occasionally take me and my husband out to eat, usually to celebrate an achievement in the family. But, it is my parent’s money and they can do whatever they chose with it.
I hope that if you are an “only” like me, you will feel empowered. Do not ever feel ashamed for being the unique individual that you are! And for those of you that are a multiple, remember, just because you come from a larger family does not make you a better person any more than being an “only” does.