The Pursuit Of The So-Called Perfect Family
Since the dawn of time, or at least during my 31 trips around the sun, it seems as though mothers near and far have been trying to crack the code of the “perfect family.”
Let’s get one obvious thing out of the way: there is no such thing as the perfect family.
I think we all innately understand that determining the size and structure of your own family dynamic is a profoundly personal decision that shouldn’t be based on societal norms.
Nevertheless, this has never seemed to stop people from projecting their opinions onto the lives of others- or, more specifically, the uterus of others.
Let me explain. I have one child. A happy, thriving, intelligent, funny, and admittedly spoiled only child. For the longest time, I thought I was pleased with only having one kid- after all, 1 is a big number when the initial plan was 0. But of course, life sometimes has its own plans that differ from our own, and the birth of my daughter ended up being the biggest blessing my world has ever known.
But still, the more I began to accept my fate as a “one and done” parent, the more the outside world began to creep into my subconscious, spinning a constant web of confusion and self-doubt within my mind.
“An only child? More like a LONELY child.”
(Witty, but no. We are in constant motion between activities, preschool, and playdates.)
“But doesn’t she want a sibling?” They ask, then turning to my three-year-old daughter. “You would love a baby brother or sister, wouldn’t you?”
(Ay, yes, Manipulating my toddler into making a huge life decision on my behalf. Greatly appreciated.)
“But don’t you want a boy?”
(Right. Let me simply place an order to my ovaries. Surely my reproductive system is similar to Amazon Prime. Plus, the implication that a female child isn’t enough is archaic and insulting.)
“But who will she have after you and your husband pass away? She will need someone to help make arrangements and grieve with.”
(Morbid and panic-inducing. Thank you for the heart palpitations. Really helps set baby-making the mood.)
But this phenomenon isn’t exclusive to parents with only one child. The truth is, we all get unwanted feedback about the size of our families, no matter how big or small. Why? Because the perfect family doesn’t exist. Preferences exist. Opinions exist. Pushy strangers exist. But perfection? No such thing. The concept of perfection is merely a sliding scale that is constantly up for debate.
So am I team “one and done”?
The truth is- I still don’t know. But what I DO know is that we as mothers need to learn how to drown out the constant sound of scrutiny, unsolicited advice, and incessant meddling. Why? Because the answer to this question doesn’t lie between the lips of strangers or even within the words of well-meaning family and friends.
It can only be found in the silence of our hearts.