I often have people say to me “ooh I just don’t know how you do it” when they see me trying to listen to how my 5 year old got on at school while the 4 year old is screaming and stomping for a jammy dodger and the 2 year old is trying to break free to headbutt someone. Depending on my mood and how much patience is left in the bank – I usually either respond with a weary “ha, neither do I” or a more cheery “oh, well you know you just have to get on with it don’t you?” while I’m also thinking what’s for tea and whether I’m going to get my work done on time.
But this isn’t a tale of woe. It was wonderful luck for us that here I am, a mother of three just like I had always hoped. I just want to give a nod to parents of one child. I wouldn’t like to feel like any less of a parent if we had chosen to stick with one child, or were only able to have a single child. Having never polled my friends who have one child, I don’t know if any of what I’m about to say rings true, or if I’m standing up for a group that actually don’t need it!
Either way, I don’t think parenting gets harder the more children you have. There is that thing that your standards slightly drop the more children you have; I’d never have let my eldest eat mud off a school playground like I do with my two year old but hey if it’s keeping him happy then I’m turning a blind eye. Sure you have to have eyes in more places, you never have a spare hand and logistically it’s more complicated, but the principles of parenting are completely the same whether you have one child or ten. I do wonder whether it’s just experience (that comes with years of parenting rather than number of children) that lets you relax more, or just that you run out of energy and hands!
A sobbing child will pull at your heart strings however many children you have. A poorly child will make you worry even if it’s not the first time. You’ll panic about new friends when they start school although you’ve been through it before. A tantruming toddler or an attitude ridden six year old can break you no matter what size your family is. So being a parent to one child, you go through absolutely everything that parents of multiple children do. Perhaps more intensely even. For us, three is the magic number and it’s what I’m used to now. I won’t know what it’s like to give one child my sole attention and sometimes I lament that. I wonder so much what life would be like for us as a family if we were – as a friend recently described it – a “triangle” family. Better? Worse? I don’t think you can ever possibly say, whichever side you’re looking at it from.
But one thing’s for sure you’re definitely no more of a parent the more children you have. Or less because you have less. They’re not a status symbol. They’re not a trophy of parenting worth. They are our families, great and small.
This months Guest Blog came from Debs Wetherall a brilliant and funny mum of 3 based in Hampshire.
If you have an idea for a Guest Blog you’d like to publish drop me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with an outline of the blog piece and I’ll come back to you.