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Baby Matters

Winter Days and the Sibling Conversation

November 1st, 2015

By Delaine Dew

I can imagine that by now, Edmonton is covered in snow, the sandals and sun hats have been neatly stored away for the season, mittens are part of your everyday wardrobe and the air just smells like winter.   It’s hard to imagine that we enjoyed so many glorious days in the summer of back-to-back plus 30 degree weather when you can’t even comprehend leaving the warmth of your house to grab your free punch card McDonalds coffee.

It’s those days where a mom of an only child may be feeling a twinge of guilt for not having a live-in playmate of a sibling for her little one especially if the weather takes a turn for the worst and stepping outside is akin to being forced to run the Kananaskis K100 by yourself.  I myself am a mom of one wonderful little girl and one of the things I am slightly worried about is when (and if) she starts asking for a brother or sister to play with on one of those cold, wintry days when you just want to play with someone other than your mom.

Instead of having to explain to your little one where the baby came from that is occupying your obviously pregnant belly, moms of only children might be faced with the conversation about why there is no brother or sister.  I am not particularly looking forward to that conversation with my daughter even though I am more than 100% confident and comfortable in my decision to have only one child.  I could explain to her that in order to be the type of mom I am striving to be for her, in order for me to feel like I can give her 100% of myself, should she require it, and in order for me to be completely happy with myself and my parenting, I just can’t have another child.  I could also tell her how she is my most special girl, that I don’t need anything else in the world now that I have her in my life, and that I am so thankful for our family, even if it is small.

I think that for us moms of an only child, our decision to stop after one is a very personal and important decision that we have made with our significant other and we’re likely going to get comments about  “adding a sibling” more often from random people rather than from your little one.  I think that your little one will feel how special, supportive and loving his or her family of three is because you and your significant other are living the life that is right for you, and as a result you are happy and that is reflected in your parenting.  Of course, families of more than three are just as special, supportive and loving as any family of three, but the important thing to remember is that those moms also chose what was right for them, and that’s wonderful.

When I think of what my almost two and a half year old may ask me about having a brother or sister, I am reminded of a funny and incredibly cute conversation that Lauren Sandler had with her daughter and reiterated in her book, “One and Only: The Freedom of Having an Only Child, and the Joy of Being One”:

Two-and-a-half was when it started, I remember.  Almost every woman I knew who had been pregnant when I was, suddenly was pregnant again.  So I should hardly have been surprised when Dahlia looked up from her dinosaur jigsaw puzzle and said, “Mama, I want a sister.” 

“Why do you want a sister, love?”

“I want to sing ‘Rock-a-bye’ to her.”  Dahlia sang “Rock-a-bye-Baby,” gazing down lovingly at the imaginary baby she cradled in her arms.  “And I want to teach her things.” 

I felt my heart dissolve.  “What else?” I asked.

“I want crackers.”

“What do you want more? Crackers or a sister?”

“Crackers.  And juice.”

I wish I could say that was the end of Dahlia’s requests for a sibling.  But in truth, such demands are rare, and when she brings it up, she does so with a sidelong glance I call “testing face.”[1]

Perhaps, and depending on how old your little one is when he or she asks for a sibling, the best conversation to have is from the heart, both honest and open.  I’m not entirely sure what I will say to my little girl, except that I will reiterate how much she is loved, how special she is to me, and just how much I love being her mom.  And hey, maybe she’ll just end up wanting a cracker instead.

[1] Sandler, Lauren “One and Only: The Freedom of Having an Only Child, and the Joy of Being One”, Simon & Schuster Paperbacks: New York (2013) at page 195.

Delaine is a mom to a beautiful little girl, a wife and lawyer in Edmonton. She enjoys running, reading, watching bad TV with her husband and most importantly, being a mom. Delaine recently started a blog “Moms of 1” (www.momsof1.com) with a friend of hers and is having fun blogging and connecting with other moms.

Tags: Babies, Parenting, yeg

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