Just this week, the hubby and I were reminiscing about our honeymoon to Florida. Two years ago this summer, we spent two glorious weeks in Orlando, Florida, where we stayed at the 4 star Universal Loews Royal Pacific resort. It was a jam packed, super fun fortnight in which we did everything we'd always wanted to do since being kids, and we did it together. It really was magical.
We got so carried away, we even got the photo album out and started looking back at the places, the people, the food and the memories. In unison, at exactly the same moment, we said "I can't wait to take Jake". A giggle and a pause followed. When could that happen? The thought of being able to take Jake to Florida was suddenly stained by the fact that, realistically, we need to talk about when or if we might have another baby - because let's be frank, we can't afford to do both. Plus - we want to buy a house and we've planned to do this in 3-5 years' time.
These thoughts begin to escalate. So if we wait to have another child and then wait for them to be old enough to go to Florida too - we're talking about 10 years from now. You start to consider is it ever going to be possible to afford two children who need childcare? And then if you can afford to have two children at all.
What if we stop at one?
Both Luke and I have siblings. Luke has 3 older brothers, and I have a younger brother and sister who are twins. Jake has 5 cousins - all girls - varying from 18 to 2 years old. Would it be selfish to stop at one and choose not to have any more so that we can offer Jake a comfortable life, rather than run the risk of really struggling to make ends meet and never having the money to do the things we want to do? Both Luke and I come from families without expendable income. My mum was a single parent (although we've always seen Dad) and I remember the struggles she had - never affording to have a holiday abroad for herself until after I was 18. I got free school meals and EMA money to help me get through A levels at sixth form.
Mum was great - she taught us the importance of hard work and motivation - we were always busy and we never went without - but it was a struggle for her. I think a lot of why all three of us have become successful in our education and career is because of the drive mum instilled in us to succeed. I want to instill that drive in Jake - but I also want us to be able to do the things we want.
Jake is a gorgeous little boy. I know I'm biased - but he is. He is bright and happy and sociable. I honestly love him more than anything. I almost can't imagine loving another child as much - of course I know that you do, when you have another. But I don't think I'd mind if it were just the three of us.
Single child families are growing in numbers. It is thought that almost half of families across England, Scotland and Wales have only one child now. It is also thought that in the next twenty years this will become a majority, as couples are crippled by financial constraints; economic fluctuations affecting the cost of living, continued rising house prices, astronomical childcare costs and women facing the daunting task of juggling family life with careers (as I, myself, am trying to do) this is only going to have a continued impact on family life.
I have found myself becoming increasingly interested in what this means. So, what if we do stop at one and Jake were to become an only child? Well, research conducted by Dr Toni Falbo revealed that single children - or 'onlies' as they are becoming known - are not disadvantaged. They, in fact, seem to enjoy 'slight advantages in certain areas'. It was indicated that they enjoy higher achievement as adults, with particular focus on education and verbal ability.
Naturally, I worry about the lack of social interaction and relationships. However, it's easy to forget that Jake spends several hours a week at nursery with his peers and key workers. He has cousins and spends time with his grandparents, aunts and uncles. There isn't any part of Jake's week where he isn't interacting - even if it's just with me, his silly mummy, rolling around on the carpet with him.
I'm not saying that I don't want any more children. I'm not saying we won't have any more children! But, I am saying that we need to stop seeing the decision to stop after one child as selfish, and start respecting it as doing what's right for your family, in your circumstances and in your time. Having a child is a blessing in itself; count that blessing and enjoy what you have. There are many couples who can't have a child at all.
I'd love to read your thoughts - especially if you're an only child yourself!