Mum’s the word: I have ‘just’ one child but also feel like I’m ‘just’ the luckiest mum

I have ‘just’ the one child and for years I felt down about it. I always felt slightly apologetic when asked about how many children I have and I would say ‘just the one.’ I grew to really dislike the word ‘just’!

Mum’s the word: I have ‘just’ one child but also feel like I’m ‘just’ the luckiest mum

I have ‘just’ the one child and for years I felt down about it. I always felt slightly apologetic when asked about how many children I have and I would say ‘just the one.’ I grew to really dislike the word ‘just’!

I didn’t really have a plan when it came to making a family. That might sound strange but a few years after my husband and I got married we talked a bit about what it would be like to have children. Then as in with some cases, it all happened very quickly!

We were delighted of course to find out I was pregnant. It was a very smooth eight and a half months of carrying Joan but all came to a crashing halt on May 4 2011 when I went in for a routine checkup and they discovered I had pre eclampsia. I then suffered an abruption and she was delivered by emergency cesarian section at exactly 3:30.

It was an utterly terrifying time and I ended up in high dependency for three days and left the hospital on a healthy dose of drugs nine days later.

During my time in the Rotunda I became consumed with the fear of having to relive the trauma all over again in order to have a second child.

One midwife said at the time “why are you worrying about this now?”

And another, really kind midwife, sat me down one day and said “don’t worry and think about this now. One day you will be in the playground with Joan and see her running around and you will get the strength to want another one and I will see you here in two years time.”

It was only two years ago when Joan turned six that I finally stopped feeling badly about her being an only child.

I spoke about it a lot with friends who have ‘just’ the one kid and really admired those who were secure in that and not worrying about it.

I had to really look at where my negative feelings and guilt about Joan being an only child came from.

It seemed like it JUST isn’t good enough to have just one child. Or the family JUST wasn’t complete with just one child. Or by only having JUST one child has lead me to tell my story, which brought up so many bad feelings, over and over again.

At no stage, when we are at birthday parties watching siblings play with siblings or the hundreds of playdates I have been on with my one child, has anyone said “you know what I JUST don’t think it is good enough you only have one kid.” I suppose it boiled down to the fact that siblings are, for the most part, good to have, it is that simple.

The bond between brothers and sisters is one you can’t replicate with other people, in most cases. This leads on to the continual feeling Joan is missing out on something crucial by not having a sibling. She does talk about it and is naturally drawn to younger kids. The creche she attended told me she always liked helping in the baby room and was so gentle with everyone which made my heart burst.

The second reason is throughout most of our life times we have been told about this idea of a ‘nuclear’ family. It is two parents and two kids, usually a boy and a girl. When you have this you have achieved the optimum life! But thankfully the idea and perception of what constitutes a family has changed dramatically.

So I know I need to —for myself and for Joan — embrace the word JUST. I have just Joan, she is my world, she is just the most incredible child and I am just the luckiest person. My husband and I and Joan are a family and a great little one at that.

Recently Joan said out of the blue: “Mom you know the triangle is the strongest shape in the world! Like you me and daddy we form a triangle.” And I think she has JUST hit the nail on the head.

- Catch Alison’s Weekend Breakfast show every Saturday and Sunday, 8am-11am on Today FM

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