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When your friends tell you that your life is easy with 'JUST' one

(33 Posts)
millymoomum Wed 08-Mar-17 10:34:15

All of my friends and family have two or three children and they are all at pains to point out how 'easy' I have it with one. I suffered from depression before I had my son and had a difficult relationship with my own mother, it took 7 years for my husband to convince me I would be a good Mum. I had post-natal depression and really struggled to feel 'good enough' as a Mum, as an army wife we had little family support, our marriage was tested to its limits and when I told my mother how I felt like 'ending myself' she told me I was wicked and she should be calling social services (despite her knowing what it is like to be unsupported with post natal depression). Don't worry I am not in any danger now, my depression is well managed and I realise what a heartless shit my mother was. We have made the decision that we are complete with 'only' one child as people so kindly put it. Friends and family have told us we are being cruel and selfish and that only children are spoilt, we rise above it in the knowledge that it would not be fair to risk our boy witnessing me having post natal depression, I lived in a home with a depressed and in some respects abusive parent and could not risk putting my child through it. What I find difficult is when friends tell me that it's OK for me as I only have one child to worry about or how they have it so much harder. Why is it socially acceptable for them to say this despite knowing my reasons, but I wouldn't dream of telling them that they chose to have more than one child so they shouldn't moan about it. They make it feel like I am not part of the club because I have only done it once, like I am less of a mother. Sometimes I think it is jealousy that now my child is of school age my life is less complicated and sometimes I feel that they think I am not a good enough mother or just plain selfish. It feels like a stab in the heart when people say it and there is so much emotion behind our decision that I want to scream at them, I know it is a throw away comment for them but it is so painful for me. Does anyone else have this problem and how do they deal with it?

OuchBollocks Wed 08-Mar-17 10:37:26

This sounds flippant but - get new friends. Seriously. They are cunts. You have done an amazing job getting well despite your awful mother and 'friends' and are doing the absolute best thing for your family by keeping yourself well. They have NO RIGHT WHATSOEVER to comment on your choices.

millymoomum Wed 08-Mar-17 10:49:15

Thanks Ouchbollocks you've made me feel better about standing up for myself. I make myself guilty enough for my decision without them adding to it....

JellyWitch Wed 08-Mar-17 10:52:44

What horrible people!

You definitely need better friends who respect your decision if close, or don't pry into the why's or wherefores if only an acquaintance.

If you had suffered multiple miscarriages, suffered secondary infertility or other complications, would they still speak without engaging brains?

AnotherTimeMaybe Wed 08-Mar-17 11:00:38

Life is hard with how many children you have! You can have one and it can be bloody nightmare and and you can have 3 and it can be a breeze....
Ignore them they probably don't understand how they are hurting you, just focus on your lovely child....

Also we are all undermined one way or another, either cause some have 4 and we only have 2 or because my mate knows so much more about parenting as he has older children and he's been through so much more than me.... Just ignore....

Rainbowsockstoday Wed 08-Mar-17 11:04:56

Your friends can go fuck themselves. It's easier having more than one because the older ones look after the younger ones (obviously not if they're multiples) and they entertain each other. I only have one child of my own but have responsibility of another. When it was just me and the baby it was one on one attention and I had to be everything to him (not that I minded) but now we have an older one in the family temporarily it's like a breath of fresh air even though she's only a year older than my son at 3 and a half. She's his friend, entertainer and they help each other. It's harder having one imho.

Like you I have unsupportive family and an awful mother. My friends are questionable except my core group who I've known for 30yrs. Both my best friends have two children and are stopping at that. One of them only ever wanted her son and the next one was a bit of an accident. We never said "oh you're lucky you only have one" because it was her choice just as it's our choice to try for another.

(For anyone asking we are taking care of a friends daughter because she is a single parent and is currently suffering badly from ptsd and has been hospitalised. Not anything sinister just us helping out)

FiaMarrow Wed 08-Mar-17 11:13:05

People love to play the "oh I have it so much harder than you" game OP - don't give them the time of day. There should be no guilt or inferiority attached to "only" having one child! I remember when my DD (who was an only child at the time)started school and one of the other Mums was in tears because her DD was the youngest of three - she said "you wouldn't understand but it's because she's my youngest so she's my baby". People are arseholes.

moofolk Wed 08-Mar-17 11:22:31

I'm on to explain the other side as I realise that I have said this to other people. Having one child is not easy, as anyone with more than one will remember, but compared to having more it is relatively straighforward.
This is what people mean - easy / hard stands in for straightforward / complicated.

I have three. It's really hard, and exponentially so (eg two is more than twice as hard). I didn't realise that it was upsetting to parents of only children to say so but many of my friends do have just one and realy resent it if i talk about how much more complicated it is. They feel I'm having a go at them when I'm just talking about my own situation. I have lost, or grown distant from a lot of friends as they can hang out at each others houses, go out together, as a larger and very hectic family cannot.

One looks easy from the outside but remind your friends that they probably found it hard too (short memories). I remember when I had my first baby I would get really annoyed with friends without kids complaining about being tired. They were tired, there's no point in being upset with them about it. Now I know people who can't have children who get really upset when people off - hand talk about how easy that must be and what freedom they have.

There is most likely an amount of jealousy I imagine. Your friends and family with two and three children no doubt wish that they could do the kind of activities you do with your DC, but their lives are too complicated to fit in. Life becomes about conflict resolution and logistics, while yours can be about parenting and nurturing a loving relationship with your child. You will be the most important person in your child's life but for your friends' children, that will be their siblings.

Although it sounds from your OP that these people are being vindictive, and they may be, do have a step back and think if some are just trying to talk to you about themsleves and not be purposefully upsetting. IDK these people so can't tell. If they are being vindictive then no excuse - however your mobility as part of a small family will make it easier for you to make new friends than for them!

You have a freedom they don't have so appreciate it - they look at your freedom as you might to a person with no kids. Wistfully nostalgic and don't see why you don't appreciate it. They know that you don't fully understand the complexities of having more chidren. I didn't know how hard it would be or I wouldn't have done it - they possibly feel the same!

Parents of many, of one, and women without children are all pitched against each other, we need to rally round more and support, not resent each other. Be honest about how their comments make you feel but also think about why you are sticking with one and take some joy from your decision. It sounds like it is the right one for you. <3

Some parents of one I know have found this book helpful

www.amazon.co.uk/One-Only-Freedom-Having-Child/dp/1451626967/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1488970955&sr=8-5&keywords=one+and+only+book&tag=mumsnetforum-21

AnotherTimeMaybe Wed 08-Mar-17 11:30:58

@moofolk great post!

We could all do with some support!
OP if possible be explicit next time you talk to them especially around the impact their comments made on you
Maybe give them a chance to speak to understand what's the reason behind their comments some surprising things might come out

OuchBollocks Wed 08-Mar-17 11:40:04

moofolk did you actually read the full OP? Friends and family have told us we are being cruel and selfish and that only children are spoilt - if they're not being purposefully nasty then they have the people skills of a mountain troll ffs, they aren't just claiming (rightly or wrongly) that they have more to juggle, they're explicitly criticising the OP as a person and parent. Why should hhe explain that being told she's cruel and selfish isn't filling her with warm fuzzy feelings??

moofolk Wed 08-Mar-17 11:50:28

OuchBollocks yes I did read it so yes, obviously saying that is intentionally nasty, but maybe not all people the OP speaks to are intending to be so hurtful. My wording wasn't great, I'm not trying to excuse cruelty.
People roll out cliches without thinking about them, nor their impact; only children being spoilt etc. This can unthinking rather than intentional cruelty.

I know I am guilty of jealousy and often feel resentful of people with an only child as it looks so lovely.

millymoomum Wed 08-Mar-17 11:53:54

Thank you for all your support, it really has helped.

I am sure I am being oversensitive at times just as some people are sometimes being insensitive. Perhaps rather than go home and beat myself up I should calmly explain how I feel, I know some of them would be absolutely horrified that their throw away comment had caused hurt. Some family members however just need to be told straight out to shut the fuck up!!!!

I completely agree that we should be more supportive of one another, everyone is different, deals with things differently and has different circumstances, if only we could be more of a sisterhood!

moofolk Wed 08-Mar-17 11:55:19

flowers happy international women's day everyone.

AnotherTimeMaybe Wed 08-Mar-17 12:00:36

Yes happy woman's day!!!

OP I bet if you say "that hurt", you ll get a different reaction

Good luck xxx

FreeNiki Wed 08-Mar-17 12:04:45

It's easier having more than one because the older ones look after the younger ones

Ah yes. My mum employed this. As a result I was verbally abused, kicked, slapped and dragged out of bed onto the floor by my arm by an older sibling who my mum left in loco parenti when she should have done the parenting her bloody self.

Stop that mindset right now. Older children are not adults and should not be left to look out for younger ones.

Rainbowsockstoday Wed 08-Mar-17 12:30:31

@freenikki I said in my experience of having two right now. I'm not saying leave them alone to do childcare. That's a very old fashioned approach. My mum let me pick up my brother from childminder at 6yr old and let ourselves in. By 11 I had another younger sibling too that I took care of. I never once hurt them and was perfectly capable of looking after them.

Maybe it was more a case of not being able to trust your older sibling and where was your mum when this was happening?!

KavvLar Wed 08-Mar-17 12:42:55

Yes agree with moofolk

I have to say that some people have no idea they are being offensive. I have a friend who has two, I can see she feels she needs to justify the slightly larger age gap and she does so by saying 'ah well an only child's a lonely child'. It's repeated mantra like, I assume she must have heard it growing up, but when I challenged her on it she had no idea it could cause offence.

People unfortunately tend to view things in terms if their own experiences and moo is exactly right there - I found none challenging because I wanted one, I found one challenging because it was hard work and I felt I needed to be everything to them, and I found two challenging because you turn into a referee. I pine for three because I enjoyed one and two so much, but know mentally and physically a third would ruin me. Each number has their benefits and drawbacks.

Don't be disheartened - people can be dicks but you sound very much at one with your decisions and choices and that is all that matters.

Rainbowsockstoday Wed 08-Mar-17 12:48:43

@freenikki maybe your mum should have "nipped it in the bud" when your older sibling showed signs of abusive behaviour. That's the done thing to advise after the fact right?

ItsNiceItsDifferentItsUnusual Wed 08-Mar-17 12:58:16

I've experienced this, although to a much less hurtful degree than you. All my friends bar one have 2+ children and it's constant, constant belly aching from them about how much harder it is them to do anything. Thing is, I agree with them - I don't find one a walk in the park so can imagine increasing the dc makes it harder.

BUT all these friends know that I had a very traumatic ruptured ectopic pregnancy last year, so why the fuck they feel the need to remind me constantly about their two child life, I don't know. Surely just say nothing...it's not me bringing it up, it's them.

FreeNiki Wed 08-Mar-17 13:23:11

My sister was very very clever.

She only ever did it when mum wasnt around. In the kitchen cooking or downstairs.

Mum would tell her to get me up in the morning and I was a heavysleeper. I was slapped over the head so it didnt leave marks. Pulled off the bed onto the floor and kicked but she was in bare feet so again didnt mark.

To this day my mum doesn't believe me. Her precious first born was the poor kid who was bullied all her life by other people.

Parents arent objective about their children. They dont truly know the full extent of their DCs behaviour. Head over to the bullying thread and I bet most parents would never believe their DC do it.

Anyway. I digress. Sorry.

FreeNiki Wed 08-Mar-17 13:24:19

Or again left alone in the house with my sister

JessiCake Wed 08-Mar-17 20:33:31

wrt the 'easier/harder' thing, I think it's swings and roundabouts (and, of course, dependent on the personality etc of the actual child/ren)

In some ways I can see that my lfie with just one DD IS a lot 'easier' than the lives of friends with more than one (specifically, actually, more than one child when they are all under 5ish). The sleepless nights diminish. If there is illness, it's just one of them getting sick (and then maybe you) as opposed to all of them going down with it one after the other. Mealtimes are a calmer affair - just one fissy eater, perhaps, to cater for - that kind of thing.

In other ways, it's harder. You are that child's everything (specifically when they're too young for many playdates etc) and ime it is a rare only child that 'plays nicely by themselves' in an idyllic fantasy world while the parent tidies up, stacks the dishwasher, cooks supper, answers the phone etc. In almost every case i know - mine included - all these things are done, if they're done at all, with a whining or stropping or just cheerfully demanding small person hanging off your leg or following you round like a shadow insisting that you take your part in the Cinderella game she HAS TO PLAY RIGHT NOW...

When DD has her older cousins round to play, it is bliss. They're 2, 3 and 4 years older than DD and I get the proper experience of being a mum of more than one in the sense that they keep each other occupied for HOURS and I actually get things done in my day - a total revelation.

It's the sheer relentlessness of having to be company for an only that is hard work.

That said, if there's one thing and one thing alone I don't envy when I see parents with more than one child, it's the refereeing of sibling fights. So maybe it's in my head that it's 'easier' when they occupy each other, because perhaps for every blissful half hour, there's another half hour of warfare.

My point, OP - sorry to ramble - is that it isn't neccessarily easier with one, and it isn't neccesarily easier with 2 or 3 or 4... There are bad times and good times, easier days and harder days and - again - different personalities. I have it much harder with my one spirited DD than my friend has it with her two very very mild and quiet little boys.

The basic point is that it DOESN'T matter and it SHOULDN'T matter to anyone else. They may well not mean to be unpleasant or let any jealousy show. Or maybe they do. The only thing you can control is how you feel about it. And IF it's blissfully easy with 'just' one - so what?! There may be a tonne of things about your life that aren't so bloody easy, and heaven forfend anything shoudl ever be easy in life... much better to be a martyr and struggle through every single good thing that comes your way, right? wink

Sorry, this became accidentally epic.

Unicorndreamer Wed 08-Mar-17 20:43:15

HMMMM not sure I agree at all with the notion having more than one is easier because older ones look after younger ones. As a mum of 4 I have to disagree. If your a shit parent then Yeh but no mother or father who truly cared would allow the elder child to look after the younger siblings. If only it were that easy eh ??? How people deal with having children is entirely there own experience and the number of children is irrelevant. For a mother who struggles with one child is no reflection on a mother who breezes through having 6 ! It's a very personal thing and noone at all has the right to judge. We are all doing our best

elQuintoConyo Wed 08-Mar-17 20:55:28

"That is massively hurtful so can you please stop sauing it? Thank you". In an unwobbly voice with a raised eyebrow (if poss) usually suffices.

I was shocked the first time someone said something derogatory about my life with one child. Then I practised the above in the mirror, a lot, until I could trot it out confidently.

My life is very different to my DSil who also has one child - easier for me, personally, because my DP isn't a humungous tool like her DP!

RebelRogue Wed 08-Mar-17 21:41:34

"That's what contraception is for." Honestly no one made have more. It was a choice,so suck it up buttercup. I only have one,because i know I couldn't cope with more,so that was that. Maybe a chat about the birds and the bees and safe sex is needed. Even better,get a nice bowl,fill it up with condoms and offer them some every time they moan grin

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