Are only children lonely? Do we crave siblings?
But one thing I’ve learned as an only child – at some point in your life, being an only helps teach you to be independent. Unfortunately with me, that happened later rather than sooner. After Dad died, I lived with Mom for six years until she died. And then, instead of going out on my own and getting some experience coping on my own, I got married – three months after Mom’s death. Although I was already engaged when Mom died, I wasn’t ready for marriage – it was like a child getting married – not age-wise (I was 22) but in maturity. Of course, I didn’t realize it then.
So, after splitting up with my husband at age 30, it was a long, long journey to get myself into dealing independently with life. Much of the time I felt I didn’t have a support system – no brothers, no sisters, just a few friends. Working from home as a freelance writer provided some predicaments when my son was small, including getting and keeping babysitters. As I write in Part 2 of my memoir, You Can Go Home,
Babysitters were foreign to me. As a teenager I never babysat. The only time I remember my parents ever farming me off was one Saturday at the Bully’s. While Mom and Dad attended a wedding or a funeral, I spent the day with the Bully and her three sisters; their mother, of course, supervised.
So I begin the sitter hunt by answering ads posted at the local IGA. One sitter, the aforementioned Tina, a single mother of three girls, lives in the social housing complex on the other side of Wellington Street West. I wheel Martin in his stroller – the latter and my arms loaded down with his toys, change of clothes, and snacks – along the winding sidewalk and steps around the complex until I arrive at Tina’s door. Then I return home to my office to make phone calls for my newspaper column, write the column or go out to interview a subject for a story. But I soon learn that my writing often depends on the babysitter’s reliability. On one occasion I have to postpone the interview. I’ve wheeled my son down to Tina’s but when I bang and bang on her door, the answer is a big fat nothing.
(Excerpted from You Can Go Home, Part 2 – Reconstruct, Copyright 2010 Sharon Crawford)
My son, also an only child, is now 32, and he managed to reach maturity – some of it in his teens. At that time a friend told me my son was “old” for his age. I don’t know if it was because he is an only child; he spent time with both parents and both had a say in his growing-up, plus his own inner strength. I suspect a combination of all three.
Meantime, mother here took years to hit her independent stride. Now my inner battle is how much support I need from others and how much I prefer to do things and solve problems on my own. My decisions are based on several factors: the logistics of time, personal preference, and the biggie – trust. I’ve had friends let me down a lot over the years. No one is perfect but the one thing that really bugs me is when friends make promises they can’t keep. So, sometimes, I just say, “I’ll do it myself,” which often has me trying to fix broken items, such as blinds, which I know nothing about and moving heavy items around (try me with a big stove when I’m angry). Sometimes I’m successful and sometimes I’m not. Every time it is a learning experience. Now, I have to “train” myself to learn the correct lesson, which isn’t always don’t trust so-and-so.
But that is the subject for another posting.
Only child writes