Only child – only the lonely?

Mom, Dad and onlychild age 13

Are only children lonely? Do we crave siblings?

Maybe.

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.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only child writes

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Only child – only the lonely?

  1. No one is ready for marriage when they do it. It brings a lot of changes, a whole new life with another person who brings all their ways of doing things, how they think about things and what they did in their family. In my own marriage my husband changed his mind about being married, he wanted out because he didn’t want to work on things and become an adult. He was over age 30 at the time but still wanted to reclaim what he thought of as his lost youth. I sometimes felt I was married to a kid, but I never felt I was a grown up then, or now when I’m 45. You just cope, grow along with life. I don’t think we are ever really ready for any of the big things in life, right from birth to death.

  2. Pingback: Stop… I’m Not Ready | Word Grrls

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