When An Only Child Becomes a Parent

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Probably my favorite moment to cherish–in all the world–are those moments when I watch pure love pass back and forth between my two boys.  It happens often, actually. This exchange of loyalty, of compassion, of kindness–of brotherhood. And when it happens I stop. I soak it in. I smile. And I give thanks for this answer to the most fervent of prayers I put out into the universe: Dear Heavenly Father, This above all, please let them love one another. Please, oh please.

You see, I’m an only child.
And while I’m no stranger to the deep, true love one can feel for a family member or dear friend–I have never experienced the kind of love that can only be shared between siblings being raised along side one another. I never felt deprived growing up. In fact, I can’t even think of a time when I hoped for a sibling (which, if we psychoanalyze, may be a bit strange). But even still, I knew things would be different when I started creating my own little family. There would be brothers and sisters–perhaps even a gaggle of them.

So then I grew up, started the family I always dreamed of, and quickly learned that there is an added level of adjustment for an only child becoming a parent.

I was raised in a home where I was the only one to start and finish a cereal box.
No one but me used my towel or hair brush.
I was never teased or tormented.
Clothes never mysteriously disappeared from my drawers
and toys could always be found right where I left them.
All eyes were on me every Christmas morning,
and my Mom never had to miss my soccer games to go to my brothers instead.
These were the perks, I suppose.

On the flip side, I’ve often heard life as an only child being described as lonely.
And while sure, growing up I have certainly been consumed with moments (especially over Summer vacation) of overwhelming boredom, I don’t remember ever feeling lonely. Actually, I took refuge in the quite moments I spent alone.

I read a lot.
Wrote in my journal.
Built forts. Rode bikes. Rollerbladed.
Went to soccer practice.
And made friends with the neighborhood kids.
Every day I had several hours that would be spent doing exactly what I felt like doing–on my terms, no compromises.

It would have been easy for me to have grown into a selfish child, and later a selfish adult.
But I feel like my family made an added effort to teach me lessons in compassion and kindness, the anti-venom for selfishness.
So selfish, No.
Independent however, Yes.
Very independent, in fact.
Perhaps bordering on selfish at times.

Which can be a challenging quality to bring into a marriage…
And even more challenging when adapting to life as a parent.

One day, your the gal who has control over every minute of her day.
Who reads books.
Goes to the gym any time she feels like it.
And enjoys her meals in peace and quiet…

Then the next day, you’re a Mom whose every minute is determined by the needs of her children,
and every meal is shared with a baby who obviously prefers your spoon over his and a 3 year old who is determined to backwash and lick the surface of every piece of food on your plate.

All sense of personal space is lost, as one child is precariously balanced on your hip while the other is attempting to climb to the top of your shoulders.
And time alone…what’s that?

I spent the first 2.5 years of Wesley’s life being consumed with guilt anytime I felt like being alone.
What kind of Mother was I if I found myself craving some time away from my child?

I’ve since grown wiser.
Cut myself some slack.
Acknowledged that I am who I am–and sometimes I need to feed the part of my soul that requires peaceful moments of solitude.

It helps that I have a husband who gets it. A husband who comes home, takes one look into my eyes, and can see immediately if my head is about to explode.
In which case, if I am about to lose my mind, he quickly (and without judgement) frees me to take a much needed breather…to rejuvenate…to be alone with my thoughts and in my own space–even if it’s only for 15 minutes in the car of my driveway.

It’s important.
Learning what your soul requires,
and then feeding it rather than fighting it.

And my soul requires a daily dose of:

1. Quiet time alone.
2. In a space I don’t have to share with another person.

And then, about once a month I take my soul on a date–where I sit alone at a table and eat a meal in peace, while reading a magazine and people watching. It’s pretty much my idea of heaven on earth.

What do you do to feed your soul? Tell me.

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Love Banner c/o: Lisa Leonard Designs 

This bench is the first thing you see when you walk into my home. And this sweet reminder, that love is spoken in our home, is the message I want others to feel as they are welcomed at the door. Thanks Lisa, it’s perfect!

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Gold necklaces worn above c/o: Lisa Leonard Designs
20% OFF COUPON CODE: littlemiss20
*Discount does not include clearance items, non-handmade items, or anything from the new hope{full} line.

I have to tell you that I may have shed a few tears when I opened my latest package from Lisa Leonard.  When I saw these new necklaces in Lisa’s shop, they spoke to my heart.  I’m loving the sweet, simple initials of my boys–held close to my heart. And then I like to layer with this second necklace commemorating the three most important dates of my life: my wedding day and the birth of my sons (yes, July is a big month in our home).

Also, I’m excited to help Lisa announce the launch of their new line called hope{full}–a collection dedicated to providing opportunities and changing lives.

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In the words of Lisa Leonard Designs: We believe a necklace can make a difference, a scarf can change a life and a bracelet can feed a belly! Each piece from our hope{full} collection is fair trade and sustainable, giving work to Ecuadorian women and building families and communities. Additionally, with the sale of each piece from the hope{full} collection, Lisa Leonard Designs will donate a portion of the proceeds back to Jungle Kids. Each piece sold will buy a school lunch for a child in need!

Shop the new line here.
And check out this fun video tutorial showing how to wear a hope{full} scarf in your hair:

Lisa Leonard Scarf Style #1: Big Bow from lisa leonard on Vimeo.

Ashley Stock
I'm Ashley. Sometimes I craft, occasionally I cook, everyday I write, and I'm always Momma. This is my blog. I keep it real while still seeing the rainbows and butterflies in all of life's lessons.
Ashley Stock
Ashley Stock
Ashley Stock

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Comments

  1. Oh yes, that alone time. I need it. And it’s not something I’ve always wanted (I actually think I have a cause of adult-onset introversion, haha) but suddenly the last few months I’ve grown to crave it. I also like to take really long, hot showers. It’s my thinking spot.

  2. I was an only child for 4 years, and then my sister was born. So, I don’t really remember being an only child, but I still like to claim it. ;) My sister and I shared a room for a really long time and even when I got my own room, I still slept in hers because I didn’t like to be alone. I shared a room throughout college because I just craved the social aspect. Someone to talk to while falling asleep, someone to yawn with while getting ready in the morning. I never spend time in my room, I do any studying/work in the living room so that I am around people. For the first time in my life, I spent a lot of time alone this summer and I had a really hard time learning to like it.

  3. I am that person that craved constant interaction with people. Since becoming a mom that feeling of constantly needing to be with people having fun has shifted! I actually found myself feeling smothered (& feeling guilty for feeling smothered!) it took me a couple years to feel like it was ok to say “i need a break before i loose my mind!!” I now enjoy & schedule having time just to myself doing art projects or sitting at a coffee shop doing nothing. I also make a priority to have a mommy night out with girlfriends!

  4. Fabulous post Ashley!!! I loved this. I was not an only child but love the honesty and can totally relate as a mom of 3 needing some alone time.

  5. Annie andersen says:

    Hmm never thought about how being an only child can effect the transition to motherhood. As always, loved the post :) and love love love the lisa leonard necklaces. Gold is where it’s at these days.

  6. As an only child with 2 small children I can relate. Thanks for putting it into words! Wonderful!!!

  7. Heather says:

    I can’t say that I was an only child, but the part about having to give your life totally to those little ones as a parent applies to us all. It really was amazing how much “my time” I lost. ;-) But, you only get to live this life one time, so it sure is more fun with lots of people to share it with!
    Thanks for sharing!

  8. I, too. was an only child. You have no idea how I relate to this post. I especially can appreciate your feelings on your time spent alone, as I really, REALLY, enjoyed my independence as a child and young adult. I actually separate my boys now for “independent” play, so they can experience peace and be with alone with their thoughts. Nicely expressed post :)

  9. It is so important for mom’s to get time to themselves. We get burnout way too fast if we don’t. I love the Lisa Leonard jewelry. It is all so heartfelt.

  10. I have to craw into a hot bath every night! Since I have had my third kiddo life has worn me out! haha! Still trying to find that balance and not be too hard on myself..but a hot bath can do wonders!
    Brooke
    onprairiehill.blogspot.com

  11. I wasnt an only child, but i was the only girl and there was 6 years apart between my older brother and me and then 8 years apart from me and my little brother. We were all in such different places and phases that sometimes it might have felt like we were only children (sometimes!).

    You are such a good momma Ash. You are. And I know we’ve never met, but in reading your story that you share, I feel like I know you a little bit. And if nothing else, I can see the love and devotion you have to your boys.

    Andrea
    andreanjace.blogspot.com

  12. Casey E says:

    You have an uncanny way ofputting into words EXACTLY what so many of us have felt (or are feeling); how refreshing it is to know we were not (are not) alone. I pray with all my heart that we women learn to accept and love each other’s path to being the best God wants us to be; sometimes it’s a struggle, and sometimes it’s as easy as all get out. But to have the support of others who care and understand is so important. Keep up the GREAT work you are doing with your boys – not bad at all for an only child!!!!

  13. Girl, I was wondering if you might be interested in doing a post one day about your master bedroom decorating? Love all those amazing yellow and grey pillows… Would love to know where you got them and see the rest of that amazing room!! Thank you for your posts – I look forward to them in my inbox every day! You are an amazing mommy and we are all so grateful you share your journey with us. :-)

  14. hey girl! remember me :0) singles ward… anywho, i love your blog! i love all you have to say. you’re just one of those people that’s got it all together. not perfect.. but i love how real you are!! cause that’s what i can relate to!

    i am an only child too. i love that alone time but too have loved seeing that sibling love in my girls. it’s kinda magical. <3 i keep wondering if i can handle more kids… after all i am an only child braving new territory! LOL

    anywho, i love your blog and i would love for you to feature your post at my Tell Me Tuesday Link Party! at http://mothersniche.com/free-printablelinkparty/ if you'd like to try it out! xox you're amazing! keep being that cute littlemissmomma you are! HiLL

  15. Wow, almost every single word of this post could be about me…only child and mother of two who has been know to take a hot bath in the dark so that my kids can’t find me and pretends to have to use the restroom just so I can close the door and be alone for 2 minutes. My kids are my absolute greatest joy, but my personal space and some quiet time to hear my own inner voice…GOLDEN!! Love this! Thanks!

  16. the need for being refreshed seems to be universal. Kudos to your hsb for recognizing when you need this.
    Moreover, this really gave me some great insight into my father’s mother who was an only child. My great grandparents were 37 and 47 when she was born. My father was one of 3 boys and my brother and I were the only grandchildren. Interesting that we were more involved with my mother’s side of our family with MANY COUSINS. Have you found the lack of siblings leaves your boys without cousins etc or does your hsb’s family make this up ?? Sorry to be so nosey it is just that there seemed to be a vacuum for relationships with my father
    s brothers/

  17. Beautiful post, and being a introvert mama of 3 precious little girls 5 and under…that quiet alone place, I crave it more then you know!

  18. Dear Ashley,

    You are such a good writer. Even if I’m 25 and nowhere near creating my own family, you always find a way to make me relate to you. If you wrote a book about potatoes, I’d buy it and know it would still be THAT good. You inspire me. Your family is very lucky to have you!

    Love,
    Mary

  19. I seriously feel like I wrote this post myself. perfection!

  20. you are the prettiest mom ever! Your boys are so lucky to have you as their momma.
    I love your bed my the way. Where is your white bed from? I am searching for a nice white bed for my daughter’s big girl bed and debating if I want to do white wood or a tufted headboard.

    PS: Love you LL necklaces

  21. I am an only child too! I used to be selfish and HATED sharing my stuff but throughout the years I have gotten soo much better, haha. I hated being an only child growing up so I know without a doubt I want to have at least 2 kids. I hate that when I get older I wont have anybody to talk about memories of our parents together, its all just up to me and what I can remember.

    And on another not, can you pretty pretty please tell me where you got that giant heart pillow?! I am looking for a pillow for our bed and these colors match perfectly..plus, i love hearts! I live in TO so if it’s at a local shop I can go pick it up :D

  22. I’m not an only child, and I still get this. I think motherhood can be quite suffocating sometimes, because they need us so desperately. I know I still crave me time a lot of the time, just a shower in peace or a chance to read by myself. I think time in your own company is good for the soul. X

  23. Caitlin says:

    I understand your need for alone time, and the guilt that comes with it. I had a good friend tell me not long after I had my daughter that taking time for yourself is one of the best things that you can do for your child. It makes you a better mother, I think that we as women get too caught up in taking care of everyone else that we forget to take care of ourselves. So good for you on taking care of yourself so that you can be a better mommy to your two cuties!

  24. I love reading your blog. You are so real and it it’s refreshing to read your posts. I have two kids the same ages as yours, in fact our three-year-olds share a birthday! And our babies are a week apart! So it is nice reading something I can relate to and learn from! Thanks for sharing your life and family!

  25. I am an only child too. I never felt lonely until my dad got sick a few years ago. I then realized at 30 I was the only one. I didn’t have a shoulder to cry on that knew the exact pain I was going through. I wanted someone else to help me and to get it. I now have two babies and its so nice to know they will have each other. A boy and a girl. No stealing clothes or boys lol (well we never know). I love having two kids but also get overwhelmed when I don’t have enough time alone. Thank you for putting it out there. Xx

  26. I’m not an only child, but I’m the youngest with a big time gap between me and my older siblings. My sisters were grown and out on their own when I was growing up, so I’m probably the worst of both worlds…kind of the baby and the only child. I spent most of the day yesterday with my two nieces, and as soon as we got home I had to leave them with my mom so I could escape and go wander around a store in peace and quiet for a little while. AND I’M JUST THE AUNT. It made me feel like I’m going to be a failure of a parent one day. I guess I need some solitude too.

  27. i absolutely LOVE the necklace with the dates on it. i’ve been wanting to do something with dates for quite some time now, but seeing as our babies have yet to make their debut, i figure i better wait til i can add those :) lisa leonard makes some seriously awesome things.

  28. “Learning what your soul requires,
    and then feeding it rather than fighting it.” <——–LOVE THAT!

    I am an only child as well and this post resonates with me so SO SO well. I have tried to explain this before to my husband and friends, those times when I get quiet in a group setting, sink back from the talk, just listen and think. People usually asks what's wrong and I reply not a thing. That's just me being me. :)

    Thanks for sharing.

  29. Hi there from another only child!

    My mother always said they could not improve on me was the reason I never had any siblings.

    Seems like something an only child’s mother would say, haha.

    Anyway, I think you explained your childhood very well in this post.

    We (only children) had different experiences growing up.

    One of my friends said to me about being an only child once, that he knew he had opportunities that he would not have had if there had been others in his family.

    That hit home with me and I became more grateful because I knew this was true for me too.

    Our parents, just like those parents with multiple children, did the best they knew how, to make our childhood everything they dreamed it would be for us.

    Sounds like you are doing the same for your boys too.

    Beverly
    whytotry.com

  30. What a great post! I’m an only child too and this really resonates with me. I adored my childhood, however I have felt the affects of being the only one as I am getting older. I have always known that I will have more than one child, not quite sure why exactly, I just know in my heart that is the path for me. Thanks for the great post!

    Sarah
    parallelfoodiverse.wordpress.com

  31. I found you through Lisa Leonard, she mentioned that you posted about being an only child and I was intrigued! I am an only…..I consequently have five children!!!! I absolutely adore the moments of pure and genuine love and friendship between my kiddos -who range in ages from 21 down to 8!!! There is something almost magical about it all, I suppose because I didn’t experience that first hand!

    I fight all of the time with wanting to just be alone and sadly, I can get pretty crabby over the whole thing. I suppoe I should start giving myself permission to be alone with myself and then I won’t get so needy or crabby!! I wouldn’t trade this family for anything, not even a moment of solitude. Luckily, I don’t have to trade :)

    Thanks for sharing, your post was beautiful!!

  32. Thanks for a little insight into what my daughter might feel down the road, way down ;) the road when she starts a family

  33. I’m the 2nd of 5 kids, ranging from mid 30s to 17. No steps, but the last two joined us through family adoption (of a sort / long story). And I knew that (except for some kind of emergency adoption situation, whether my “baby” brother, my nephew and nieces, or something totally unforeseen) my son would be an only. He enjoys playing with other only-children, but now has best friends who are parts of a bunch. And he loves them, but he hides from them. They love him — and they torment him. It is nice to see your post and feel re-assured that he will be OK as an adult — as a parent, if he wants, or not, as he wants. Thanks so much for sharing your heart!

  34. This hit home. Not only was I raised an only child – I have young 2 children of my own – same sex – 2 years apart. I never wished for a sibling growing up either, and I loved being with the neighborhood kids etc. I still need my alone time. You are Blessed to have a caring husband – I am a single mom and have my children 24/7 full time and as much as I love it, and love them – the only child in me craves that alone time every so often lol So I make sure to take a little time when I can – when they are at school or after they go to bed – to relax, catch up on TiVo shows or read… :-)

  35. I see most of the comments are from women, which is cool… so I suppose this is from the male perspective of growing up as an only child.
    I was teased and messed with for most of my childhood, and early relationships all ended badly because of my overbearing sense of love at the time. I had a core group of friends that I still have to this day, but was never interested in interacting with anyone else.
    As a parent nowadays, with two daughters, and being the only man in the house, I absolutely have to feed my soul some getaway time or I will explode.
    Unfortunately, this makes me not much of an affectionate person with my girlfriend because I need so much space, but you always try.

    Anyways, to end the comment, I absolutely have to feed my soul some alone time space, or I’ll lose it.

    I absolutely understand where you’re coming from here :-)

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