“I can’t believe you’re an only child! You’re so normal!” That’s an actual response someone gave me when I told her I don’t have any brothers or sisters.
Only children face a lot of stereotypes. People think we’re spoiled, we’re selfish, we’re lonely, we’re weird, we’re awkward, we become too mature too fast…the list goes on and on. I’ve always loved being an only child, and most people are surprised when I tell them I don’t have any siblings because, according to them, I don’t fit the typical only child mold.
My attitudes about being an only child have definitely changed as I’ve gotten older. As an only child, I’ve always been pretty close to my parents. They came to almost every football game I cheered at in high school, they were at every dance competition, they came to every awards ceremony at school. I was the only kid, so they could put all of their focus and attention on me. While I appreciate it that now, at 15 I thought it was kind of lame. Now, at 22, I’m so glad that my parents were there for all of my activities. However, I don’t appreciate all of the embarrassing pictures from my awkward years. Braces, chicken legs, and a face full of freckles? Cute.
Pictures…my parents’ house is FULL of pictures of me. My mom has a bunch of my dance pictures, fro the ages of 4 to 17, hanging in a collage frame in the family room. And she has a collage of nine of my high school senior pictures hanging up as well. Ew, cringe. It’s sweet that my mom has all of those pictures, but I hate seeing my face everywhere. I’m pretty sure my mom even has a senior picture of me in her wallet. My parents also have photo albums full of pictures from my first few years of life. I know that one day I’ll be thankful that I have all of those memories, but right now I think it’s kind of odd. But I was the star of the show, so OF COURSE they had to take fifty million pictures of me on Easter 1993. Of course.
As a teenager, I hated that my parents didn’t have other kids to put their focus and attention on. In my opinion, they asked too many questions and knew way too much. I felt like I was always under a microscope. Now, though, I appreciate their care and concern.
I think many young adults, regardless if they have siblings or not, begin to realize how cool their parents truly are as they get older. 14 year-old me would probably have rather poked my eyes out than admit my parents are cool, but, at 22, I totally love hanging out with my parents. They’re less like authority figures and more like friends and mentors. As a kid, going on vacation with just my parents was fun, but I always wished I had a companion my age to hang around with. Now, I love going on trips with Mom and Dad. A weekend at the casino with the Bud Light flowing? Sign me up!
I’ve made some scary realizations as an adult only child, too. In December 2013, my dad had a health scare. Everything turned out to be totally fine, but it caused me to really reflect on what life would be like without both of my parents. It also made me think about the inevitable- my parents are human (although when I was 15 I’m pretty sure I thought they were crazy, embarrassing aliens), and all humans die. One day, neither of my parents will be around anymore, and I won’t have any siblings to lean on for support during that time. If my parents become ill, I’ll be the one making decisions for them. Thinking about the responsibilities that come with that makes me feel a little queasy. It’s scary and unpleasant to think about, but it’s reality.
Another topic that crosses my mind sometimes is kids. If I don’t have children, my parents won’t have grandchildren. I’m only 22, but, at the moment, I kind of don’t want any children. I want my parents to have grandchildren, though. I know I can’t have kids just so my parents can have grandkids, but it makes me kind of sad to think that they could (potentially) not have any. I’m single as a dollar so I really don’t think I’ll have to worry about the kid thing for a LOOOOOONG time, but it’s definitely something I’ve thought about.
Being an only child does not define me, but it’s certainly part of whom I am. Maybe I’m a little awkward sometimes and I might be a tiny bit spoiled, but oh well. I’m an only child, and I love it.