A Letter to Tiago #1: On Being an Only Child

I have never felt the need to explain myself to people who ask and wonder why Tiago is an only child. I, however, feel like I need to make Tiago understand our reasons, in the hope that when he grows up, he would likewise feel that he doesn’t need to explain his being an only child.

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Dear Tiago,

I would like to tell you why you are an only child. As a start, let me tell you that you were NOT supposed to be one. Your Dad and I planned on having 2 kids. But after having you, I started to doubt whether I could still have another baby as I was beginning to think that my body was already too old to have another baby – my lower back would hurt from carrying you, I’d feel exhausted from our daily routine, etc. Stop right there if you are starting to wonder whether it is your fault. NO IT IS NOT. I guess it’s one of the downsides of getting married at a late age and deciding to have a baby much later (No, I am not saying that you can go off and get married right after college! That’s another letter.).

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The decision of not having another child was not easy. Dad and I thought and prayed long and hard about it. There were even times when the pressure from well-meaning family and friends, encouraging us to just go ahead and have another baby, would get to us. In the end we decided to just have you, and you alone. Accepting the fact that, in more ways than one, we could only afford to have you.

Do know that Dad and I are aware that being an only child may have its challenges especially in our culture where “the more the merrier” mentality is embraced. You WILL hear people saying things like “He will grow-up a brat!” “Malungkot kapag mag-isa lang.”, “So he’ll have someone to play with.” “So he will have someone to help take care of you when you’re old!” – all referring to you. Some will even directly ask you if you want a baby brother or sister. Believe it or not, I have been called a selfish mother countless of times just because I prefer to have just one child. It is painful to be at the receiving end of all these lines. I try hard not to let it affect me. Don’t let these affect you either; especially when you’re much older and societal pressure would seem to make more sense. We are consciously doing our best to teach you that being an only child is not some form of disadvantage.

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Dad and I are very proud that at the age of 7, you are debunking all these notions about being an only child. We are so glad to see you well grounded, friendly, sociable, and definitely not a brat. We are always proud to tell our friends that you just like to “window shop” in a toy store – rarely asking us to buy anything and if you do and we say that we cannot, you just give us your “Okay. I’ll just play with what I have. Maybe next time.” reply. No wailing, whining or crying. Not even a cute “Please, please, please?” Disciplining you is not difficult because you listen and try to understand right away. We have no problems with how you interact with other people. In fact, you never cease to amaze us with how you always manage to make friends everywhere we go – regardless of gender, age and even language! At the same time, you also know how to entertain yourself when you are by yourself, and still have fun.

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To be honest, I am relieved that you are not asking for a sibling (or do you secretly wish for one?). I am aware that there may come a time when you would ask for one. I can only hope that you will understand, accept and respect our reasons for not saying yes to you. There may be times that you can’t help but compare yourself with your friends who have brothers and sisters – be envious because they would seem happier and that you are missing out. Let me be the first to tell you now that, yes, there is a lot of fun to be had with siblings. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun either. Never, ever think that you are missing out on happiness because you have no siblings. Your happiness should never depend on anyone or anything. Loneliness will only creep in if you allow it to. As I always remind you – be happy with and thankful for what you have. And always find the fun in everything.

Also, you are in no way obligated to care for your Dad and I when we are old. While we try our best to make sure you grow up to be a compassionate, loving human being, we do not expect you to put your life on hold to take care of us. Rest assured that you don’t have to worry about me and Dad.

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In spite of our change of heart – of not having another child, we don’t feel incomplete. You are more than enough for us. Thank you for being such an easy child. You are smart, loving, very sweet, empathic, fun and such a trooper! Now if by some twist of fate, we ever are blessed with another child (who will definitely not come from my tummy), we will embrace him or her with all our hearts.

Until then, we are a family of 3. And we are happy. We are complete.

Love,
Mom



To parents of one, you are not alone. Your kids are not alone. They will never be as long as they are happy. Don’t be ashamed that you have one child by choice or circumstance. What’s important is your one and only grow into a wonderful human being.

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Comments

  1. Anne, as I told you before, what you wrote in this letter echoes much of the same feelings I have. Carlo, is also an only child by our choice. And now, Charlie and I are at that exact point you referred to… where we keep hearing “Kawawa naman si Carlo, mag-isa lang siya” or “He’s old na, dapat sundan na yan!” or the worst one yet, “Tamad lang kayo noh, kaya isa lang anak niyo? You’re not doing your job as parents.” Ugh. But you said it so well: “we don’t feel incomplete”. And just like you, Charlie and I are trying our best to raise our Carlo to be a kind and wonderful human being.

    Next time we’re back home in Manila, I really hope to meet your Tiago.