To be fed up of people telling me I have it easy...(62 Posts)
...because I have an only child?
DS is 5 and because of fertility issues he will always be an only child. Today we were at a class party, and some of the mums were discussing how tired they were as their younger children weren't sleeping. I agreed that it was indeed hard work, just general chit chat as you do, mentioned that a Gro Clock had worked wonders with DS. One of the mums then pointed out she'd have to get 3, one for each of her kids, and said I was "lucky" to only have one child and that I'd "know all about it" if I had another. The other mums agreed. It wasn't said in a nasty way, but basically the implication was that I couldn't possibly know what it's like to be tired, because I only have the one child.
I have noticed this before among this group of women and in society in general. There's an idea that parents of onlies have it easy, almost that they aren't a proper family because of it. I've had loads of comments along the lines of "wait until you have had another" and I feel that my experiences of parenting are seen as not as valid as someone who has two or more.
The more I think about it, the more cross I feel. The women in question at the party are all SAHMS, but I've always worked/studied after having DS, including long shifts where I was constantly on my feet and didn't finish work until 3am, then would have to get up with DS at 7am while DH went to work. I'm not making this a sahm vs wahm thing, but I'm pointing out that it's swings and roundabouts because all families have such different set ups that make things harder or easier. Also two or three kids will play together while my son sees me as his source of constant entertainment!
I know what you mean but it definitely is harder with two!
There's an idea that parents of onlies have it easy, almost that they aren't a proper family because of it
I think you're conflating two very separate things here. Obviously there is more work involved in having multiple children compared to having one, that has nothing at all to with their status as families.
Look, she was tired, she probably didn't mean to hurt your feelings. Sometimes I say insensitive things just because it's hard to think of another topic of conversation if you only really have your dcs in common. Maybe she's similar. And it is easier with one, whether that's by choice or otherwise. It's not a value judgement or a statement about my feelings on your fertility. I can say it because I've had one, two and three children.
It's just 'something to say' imo. It's sad if you wanted more and can't due to fertility issues. It's said to me (and I think you may be one of them OP) who looks at me as a SAHM and thinks I 'have it easy'. There's always easier aspects to things. Dentist appointments are probably easier for me as I don't have work to arrange or consider. You do only have one child which is easier than 2, 3 or 4. I generally assume that working mums have the ability to mix and make general chat easier as they work and have topics of conversation more than I do. Swings and roundabouts.
My eldest was an only for 10 years. When he was 2 I was at uni training to be a midwife which is a full time course including shift work plus assignments on top of full time hours, and still working 16-20 hours a week as a carer. I was tired, yep. Very tired.
But now I'm a mother to 3, 15, 4 and 20 months, and I have NEVER known exhaustion like this. Meeting one child's needs is totally different to meeting multiple child's needs. For the record, mine won't play together, at all. So it's no help in entertainment! I am the peacekeeper/entertainment.
It isn't about not being a real family (you are). Or anything else you mentioned. But the fact that it is totally different when you add more children in!
I'm sorry about your fertility issues. I'm an only child, I have no regrets on that front. 😊
I feel the two are combined though, because I have found my experiences of parenthood have been dismissed at times purely on the basis that I have an only, so I "don't know what it's really like". Which to me is like saying you're not a "real" parent/family because you haven't been knee deep in nappies etc due to having 3 under 3 or whatever.
Of course in a general sense two children are harder than one, but that doesn't mean parents of more than one have the monopoly on being tired for example. I didn't get time away from DS until he was well over three, apart from one or two coffee meet ups with an old friend. My cousin had two children a similar age, and was very lucky to have accommodating grandparents who took the children for whole weekends every month from they were a few months old, saying that my cousin "needed a rest as she had her hands full". Her Mil would also do all her washing and cook for them all a few times a week. DH and I didn't have anything like that. In that sort of situation I don't necessarily think my cousin had it harder than me
This thread has been a little more understanding of what I think you are getting at. Different days, different crowd on here it seems.
It sounds like they were a bit rude and insensitive but I'm sure they didn't mean that you aren't a proper family.
Everyone has their own challenges and I don't think life should be a competition.
I have twins, on the odd occasion when one is away at a sleepover and I only have one it is easier in lots of ways.
On the other hand my DC always have a built in playmate. My good friend has one child and she has to do far more entertaining on holidays etc than I do but mine have each other.
Your friends presumably chose to have several children and no doubt wouldn't be without them.
Next time either breezily say "oh yes you're right my life is just a round of parties" or call their bluff and very seriously say "do you regret having 3 children?"
I find it a bit easier having two, I couldn't cope with being the focus of that much attention from a single child as I am truly rubbish at playing so luckily they now play together fairly happily although I do have to separate them occasionally. Also stop them licking each other.
Next time I'd crack a joke about their inabilty to use contraception as clearly they're struggling with having multiple children close together so it must have been an accident.
I remember a group of school gate mums gently jibing another Mum for only having one. She said quietly, "Well yes but I had a shit child birth experience, awful damage and nearly died." No one ever mentioned it again.
Not saying that you should have to share your medical history with a load of randomers but sometimes it does shut people up.
I'm a single parent and have got four, three teenagers and a three year old. I never found two, three or four any harder than just one but every one's experiences are different I guess. You're totally right that no one has a monopoly on being tired
My first child was an absolute nightmare when he was a baby - I loved him but he was very difficult and demanding, incredibly fussy, never slept etc. I had my second child when he was 19 months and it was honestly easier having 2 under 2 than it was having the one when he was 15 months and under. Logistically some things were difficult with 2 and we certainly had some moments but I didn't feel like I was walking on eggshells all day every day... just sometimes so I do agree with you that it is swings and roundabouts. All families are different.
I have 5 dc. I'm a SAHM and I home ed 3 of them.
I'm not brave enough to tell anyone the truth in real life but I will on here.
My truth is that I love my life. It is not hard work. All 5 of my children are a pleasure 99% of the time. They rarely argue. They play nicely. They help around the house. They behave well in public. They are lovely to spend time with. There have been tough times when they were babies but they are now aged between 4 and 16 and they are not hard work at all.
I do what I have to and keep everyone clean and fed but I don't run myself ragged shining the house! Everyone is happy.
We don't have anyone to babysit but I do have a husband who wouldn't dream of moaning about my lack of housework or a late dinner.
When I say I have 5 dc I get looks of sympathy and 'I don't know how you do it...' They just want me to nod and agree.
I've met children who are 10 times harder work than my 5 put together. But then some people make their lives much harder than they need to be.
So I agree OP. More dc are not necessarily harder work.
I, on the other hand, don't know how working mothers do it. I would hate it and really struggle. I'm not sure what the point of comparing is though really.
I agree op these facile judgments are worthless and only made my people that arent thinking at the time, it depends as you say on your mix of circumstances. Having any child under 3 makes me grumpy and exhausted personally - the whinging, bad sleep and constant fear of injuries are wearing for me. If I had a grandparent or close relative near us that would've changed things I expect in our case. So family support was more biting than number of kids.
First world problem. Stop thinking about it. It's not important. You have a nice life, a nice family. Don't spend any more energy on it. Seriously.
I can see your frustration.
I have two - yes, the lack of sleep is very hard - but in my experience nothing like working till 3am and getting up at 7am. That's really tough. And yes now that they are older and play I have to entertain less.
Happy2bhomely I love your post. Refreshingly honest.
sometimes even struggling seems to become a competition in motherhood.
I agree that it's just something to say.
When I was a single parent, with no family support and a full time job, I was told I was so lucky that I got a free weekend once a month when DCs had an overnight with their dad. They went at 2pm and were delivered home 10am next day. That was the only free time I had in a month and it was a mad panic of shopping, housework and work/study, People weren't being malicious, just thoughtless.
I have a friend who was told it must be easier having twins, because it was "two for the pain of one" which completely minimises the risks and demands of two babies and toddlers.
I dare say that mums with multiple DCs are told how easy they have it that the kids will all amuse each other while she can sit with her feet up and watch telly.
Sometimes there are no undercurrents, people just open their mouths and stuff comes out.
I often see on these threads the comment "if you have more than one child, at least they can entertain each other, whereas I have to entertain my DC...".
I had an only for almost nine years, it's easier with one, end of, even when you factor in the entertainment issue. That doesn't mean that because I have more children, I'm better, or more of a mum, or that your family is less of a family than mine, I probably just look more haggered than you!
I'm very close to a friend who has one DC through choice. She often tells me how lovely her life is with just one, how much easier and relaxing it is, how much more chilled out, her and her DH are. Good for her, but I never ever do the reverse. I wouldn't swap my noisy unruly brood & life for her quiet and chilled out one for anything. I just nod and smile. Maybe you could could use that tact, OP. I'm sorry for your fertility problems - I can understand how upsetting those comments must be.
And OP, I'd be mentioning about training & the shifts...passive agressively of course : "I remember when I was training & getting 3 hours sleep, and was up at 7:00am etc, I doubt it compares to the tiredness of having 2 DCs, though..."
OP, in my experience there is always someone waiting to tell you that you aren't "part of their club". Since they have more than one child and presumably close enough together that they can't really remember DC when it was the only one, they have no idea. Mostly though, I have had people admit to me that 2+DC will usually occupy each other, 1DC will need you to input a lot more. It can be fun, but it is definitely tiring and it is easy to be overwhelmed by it after a tough day at work. I don't think I was good enough at it by a yard and am always very sad when DD14 says she hates children - I don't think she does though.
Have some and from me and write it off as one of those really annoying things about human nature, that they have to see themselves as more put-upon than you!
Oh I can see where youre coming from OP.
It cuts both ways though. My mum is continually berating me for my piles of laundry. Apparently she never had more than half a basketful when I was a child.
That's as may be but I was an only and I have five DC and it is more time consuming to wash the clothes of seven people rather than three.
My mum, bless her refuses to concede this though.
Whatever. I do wish people wouldn't persist with competitive parenting/tiredness/housekeeping though. Its very tedious and pointless.
If I were you I'd ignore the comments.
So they think they've got the monopoly on tiredness. Let them have it (for all the good it will do them).
People always like to tell people how much harder they can have it.
I actually found two no harder than one ( besides getting them in and out the car, haha). I play with my first less as they have each other to play with, I still have to make the same meals and go the playground and they share a bath and I co sleep with both, so no difference there.
When I had just one, I worried just as much as he got all the worry, i played with him constantly as I thought I should, i organised constant activities and focused all my energy just on him. I don't expend any more energy, it's just shared between the two!
Ignore them, being a parent is hard whether you have 1 or 8.
It probably is easier with just one, but so what? The other mum chose to have more than one so is moaning about a choice she made.
I get your point, that there are so many more factors than just having additional children in terms of tiredness / finding life hard.
I work, as does my husband, both in demanding jobs involving long hours, and we have zero family help, and never get a break, so similar to you. Except we have two kids, one of whom is probably in the top 1% of crap sleepers.
Do I have it harder than you in terms of what we have to juggle? On paper, perhaps yes. But do I FIND it harder? I can't judge how hard it is - you could have two people in identical situations and one find it hard, one find it easy.
I think they were BU to assume you have it easy, but also YABU to assume just because they are SAHP or have family help that they find it easy. Personally I find SAH with two young children (on mat leave) has been much harder than anything else I've ever done.
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