(I’m over at TODAY Parenting talking about how I made the giant leap from “selfish” parenting to “selfless” parenting in just one easy step. See the beginning of the post below and follow the link to read the rest.)
Seven months ago, I was a selfish parent.
You know the type. The one who dares to have just one child while everyone around her corrals at least two or three.
I was the one who worked from home rather easily because even when my son wasn’t at preschool, he was old enough to be distracted for chunks of time throughout the day with a wide variety of activities. (Or, you know, screens.)
I was – or should have been – the least frazzled parent at the zoo or the restaurant or the play date because I was able to plan my whole day around just one child. I could leave home when it best suited his schedule. I had plenty of room in my purse to carry whatever snacks and drinks might keep him happy. And I was free to leave at the first sign of the inevitable meltdown, which I could see coming from a mile away because I was able to devote all of my attention to him and only him.
I was the one who basked in the glory of regular date nights with free – often overnight! – babysitting from grandparents who didn’t mind watching one kid essentially whenever we wanted because, duh, easy.
I could have had another baby, at least as far as I know, but I had chosen not to. So I was the one who, in order to enjoy all of those perks for myself, had done one of the most selfish things a parent can do: I had sacrificed Ryan’s sibling.
His hypothetical sibling, that is. His non-existent and imaginary but still somehow very real sibling.
For years, I chose flexibility in my own life over one of the most critical relationships my son would ever have. I robbed him of a partner-in-crime, an ever-present playmate. I denied him a bond that couldn’t and wouldn’t ever be replicated in any other way. In order to have time to myself now, I ensured that my son would ultimately be alone.
Granted, no one ever actually said this to me in these words, although the sentiment was hinted on occasion. Really, it was more of a general vibe I got from the raised eyebrows of parents with multiple children, the way they’d wryly remark things like “It must be so easy with just one” and “I didn’t feel like a real parent until I had the second one.”
(And if you are so inclined, please click to “vote up” the post. This helps it get promoted to a larger audience.)