As Told by an Only Child

I’ll start with this– I have a lot to write about so I think this might be uploaded in several parts as I see fit. I write this not only for myself, but in hopes it might provide some insight for anyone who knows an ‘only’ or for parents of an only child.

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I’ve had 23 years of experience being an only child (so far). My mother was pregnant with twins, one of them demised in the womb and the other that was born was a 7 lb 8 oz baby girl. I was alone when I entered the world, and on my certificate of birth I’m legally considered an “only child.”

For many, it is considered either a gift or a curse. In my case, I haven’t figured out which it is yet.

Being Hispanic as well as an only child made me quite the unicorn in my large family. In the Mexican culture, having a multitude of children has been the norm for generations. Whether it’s having 3 or 9 children, the house is always going to be full and noisy. It’s beautiful in its own way, being in a large family surrounded by relatives.

This way of living was not something I was used to.

I didn’t have to share my room with anyone. I had my own bed, my private bathroom and no one, this is important, absolutely no one else touched my toys. For a toddler, this perk was at the top of the list. My parents showered me with gifts on Christmas and all the other holidays too. I got boxes of chocolates and so many cards on Valentine’s day, Easter treats as far as the eye could see and on my birthday? It was practically a religious holiday for my parents. I had all their attention and anything that I wanted I got.

At this point, anyone would think that a child who was given so much would be a spoiled brat. This is the stigma all of us only children have to face, at any age. It’s something we will never escape; the misconception that all onlies are demanding, tantrum-having spoiled brats. Every time I meet someone new and they find out that I am an only child, the first thing that never fails to be said by them is “Were you a spoiled brat?” or “You must be so spoiled.” I could say no and explain to them why I’m not a spoiled brat, but I would turn blue in the face.

I never asked my parents for all that they gave me and did for me. They only have one kid and like any loving parent, they just piled on all the gifts and attention to the one outlet that they could, and that outlet was me.

I’m sure having an only child isn’t easy as most parents might choose to believe. Not in the sense that the child would be a handful, but having to deal with outsiders and their criticism.

I can attest that every time I was introduced to friends or coworkers of my parents, by my parents, they were always asked, “Oh, you only have one. Why?” I can still remember the patronizing tone of those people who look at having an only child as being inferior to having many children. I never understood this when I was younger. Excuse me, Mother of 5. I’ve been on the honor roll since grade school, won several competitions, dozens of awards and been accepted into private universities. What have your children done?

It upsets me when my mother is seen with contempt for just having one child. It doesn’t seem to phase her though, she lives by the saying “quality over quantity.”

If you have 1 or 5 children, the number doesn’t matter. What matters is the quality of love and attention they receive, that is what helps them as they grow into their own individual selves.

I thank my parents for investing so much time into my development; encouraging me when I needed it and giving tough love when I needed to learn a lesson. I don’t quite understand it yet because I’m still growing myself. But maybe if I have my own kid (or kids) one day, it will resonate.


 

If you enjoyed reading this, please let me know. I would like to make this a series if I can, because there is a lot to write about. Thanks so much for reading!

[Image via]

 

 

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About C.G

I write what I'm passionate about. I believe in the therapeutic process of writing because it keeps me sane and motivated. This blog is made up of poems, narratives and other musings.
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7 Responses to As Told by an Only Child

  1. Fico says:

    I really enjoyed reading this, Clarissa. First off, I’m happy you share some stuff about your Spanish heritage. And second, I can definitely understand the stigma since, many people want to tell others how to have families or raise kids, or what you should and shouldn’t do with all of your kids or kid. Having one kid; I didn’t think this to be too much of a big deal. But it sounds like it is with many Spanish families. When they ask “when are you having your next one?”. If not, they will just ask when are you having one, if you don’t have one. Sheesh people!

    Liked by 1 person

    • ClarissaG says:

      Haha yeah! I plan on writing different anecdotes about being an only child, especially in the Mexican heritage (since there’s so many different types of latino culture) and hoping people can relate. If they can’t relate, then I hope it can shed some light.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Fico says:

        Oh yes, definitely. It goes on two sides indeed. Can’t say that it’s been all that great for the Mexican people the last couple of years. Especially during this election.

        Like

  2. clcouch123 says:

    i do enjoy this, and I enjoy the idea of this being the start of a series. I enjoy Latino (in your case, Latina) heritage, starting with my having studied Spanish and Spanish culture for several years in school. I’m the middle child, so I learn about being an only child here. My sister, in her own way though, deals with the spoiled-child riff. She’s the youngest of five, which means having four older brothers. She readily admits that, while a child, she was spoiled, so to speak, by over-attention and over-protectiveness. And yet she is a hard-working mother and professional and easily one of the women I respect more in the world. So there. Y’all do all right. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    • ClarissaG says:

      Thanks so much for your feedback, I’ll try to do my best for the next installment! I have read many things that mention only children tend to get along more with the middle child of a family, because of the differences of attention they received growing up. Wow, she sounds amazing! And definitely beyond the grasp of the “spoiled” stigma most children faced.

      Liked by 1 person

      • clcouch123 says:

        Sorry, I should have started off with “I” rather than “i.” An English teacher thing. (Don’t worry–I only torture myself about it.) Yes, my sister is impressive. To me and, I imagine many others. I think you two would get along. I’m certainly glad to hear that only children and middle children tend to get alone. Yay! Goodness, I do not understand any stigma attached with having one child. Ellos que hablen esto son sin gracia. (Sorry, I don’t write Spanish often or, clearly, well.) I look forward to the next installment of your series!

        Like

  3. Pingback: As Told by an Only (Holiday Edition) | An Offbeat Bluestocking

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