• SumoMe

There’s something I have been wanting to write about, but have been putting off. I think I have been avoiding it because I know some feelings are sure to arise. I am not a big fan of being publicly vulnerable, but I am a person who processes feelings through writing. My intention for this blog, has always been to be relatable to others, and to keep it honest. Which brings us to this post–a touchy subject for some folks.

not less of a mom

A funny thing happens when you start dating someone–people start asking you if or when you plan to get engaged. Then you get engaged, and people demand to know if you have set a wedding date. You set a date and get married, and then everyone wants to know when you will be having kids. (Ok, in my case we didn’t go in this exact order, but stay with me here). Then you become pregnant, and people want to know the baby’s gender and name. Baby is born. Life changes–you cross over in to the parenting world. And then people start asking when you are having another, since your first is so cute and all.

It is actually a bit exhausting, and if you don’t have some solid internal boundaries, it can add up to a lot of pressure. I blame human nature and our desire to inquire. (I am most definitely guilty of some of these inquiries.) But with that being said, I am going to tell you what may (or may not) be going on, on the other side of these questions.

After Mike and I had Ayden, our world was rocked, (and that is putting it mildly). No one was getting much sleep at night, Ayden was a difficult feeder, she liked to party at night and  only wanted to be held. Mike was working full-time and in school full-time. Money was tight. Emotions (hormones) were wacky. Life was hectic. That aside, Ayden was also an incredibly happy and smiley baby, who hit all of her fun milestones crazy-early. One thing was for sure, life was in session in the McAllister home.

A couple of months in to parenthood, we started getting the inevitable questions about when we would be having more kids. Most people had an opinion about the matter telling us things like, ‘You don’t want them too far apart’, or ‘You don’t want her to be an only child–then she won’t have anyone’, or ‘Don’t wait too long!’ To be honest, these comments felt intrusive and presumptuous, though I didn’t fully realize it at the time.

And then there were the comments from other moms (of two or more children), ‘One is so easy’, or ‘You only have one?’ Granted, this was not my interaction with all moms of multiples, but there were a few and it caught me off guard. I don’t believe that these comments were meant to be malicious, and I have learned to try not to take others personally (operative word being ‘try’), but if I am being honest, (I am), it felt a little passive aggressive.

Once upon a time, when being parents was just pillow-talk between Mike and I late at night, we planned on having two children. We each grew up with a sibling, and it seemed the natural thing to do. We also had very strong beliefs about exactly how we wold raise our hypothetical children. We were strong in or convictions. We would never raise our voices, never let our baby ‘cry it out’, never allow our child to throw tantrums in public, would allow for only minimal TV watching, never use modern technology (iPhones / iPads) as a means of child supervision, make all of our own baby food, etc, etc. We were so sure. And we were so wrong. If I have learned one thing from becoming a mother, it is that plans change quickly after a baby is born.

Cut to: Ayden’s 2nd Birthday, (the time of year we had planned to begin trying for baby #2.) We sat at or dining room table, us two. The conversation began. And then it happened; Mike had changed his mind. I couldn’t believe what he was saying; was he allowed to do this? Was he allowed to change his mind mid-game? I won’t go in to too many details about why, because this is my story to tell. I am speaking from my own experience, and it would be unfair to my husband if I attempted to write his story.

I will say this; that conversation led to more conversations, arguments, tears, praying, debates, soul-searching, a counseling session (with a not-so-great shrink), lots and lots of writing, weighing of options and eventually over time, acceptance. For the sake of my marriage and family, I had to come to a few conclusions:

  1. If I believe in a higher power (which I do, and choose to call it God ), than I am not really in charge of the whole game-plan. I cannot impose my will on anyone else; even my husband. If we are meant to have another child, then it will happen. If we are not meant to have another child, then we won’t. God is either everything or nothing. So in a sense, this situation was forcing me to dig deeper, spiritually.
  2. I was not willing to deceive or trick my husband in order to become pregnant again, and I was not willing to leave the marriage over it. This meant I needed to find a way to be ok with his change of heart. I didn’t have to like it, I just had to find a way to be ok (for now), with it.
  3. In order to become ok, I needed to find a deep sense of gratitude for the blessings that I already had in my life. I had to focus on all of the beautiful things, people and experiences that I am lucky enough to be afforded. I had to recognize that Mike and I are jackpot winners, when it comes to Ayden. I had to remember that not everyone who wants children get children, that some people lose hildren and that I have been blessed beyond measure in becoming a mother. I found that when I stay busy focusing on loving and appreciating what I have, I spend less time worrying about what I don’t have.

This doesn’t mean that some days I don’t drift in to the worrisome head space where I compare myself to or feel envious of others. And on those days, when I feel extra sensitive about it all, I do my best to be gentle with myself. I write a gratitude list about my life, I write down 5 things that I love and appreciate about my husband, I forgive him all over again for not always being perfectly in line with my desires and I remember that nothing is set in stone.

And some days, I am so content with our little trio, that I could explode with joy. I feel a deep sense of closeness between the three of us that is more fulfilling than I am capable of putting in to words.  I feel lucky. I feel full.

Sometimes I feel like the only person in the world that has experienced this with their spouse, which makes it even more daunting to write about. But the chance that someone may read this and relate, forces me to write my truth. Also, I have learned that when my feelings are fear-based, they’re usually off-base.

At the end of the day we really don’t know what other families are going through; whether it be fertility issues, losing a child or situations like mine. What I do know, is that it is never safe to assume. What I have decided to learn from this is that I can be happy. I can be happy if our parenting journey begins and ends with Ayden, or if we go on to have more children. And quite possibly the most important thing that I have learned is that either way, I am not less of a mom.

Click here, to read PART 2 of this story! 

xo, Em

28 Comments on Discovering: I Am Not Less of a Mom

  1. Emily you are such an inspiration. You are brave, you are honest, and I think I wanna be you when I grow up 😉 Thanks for being vulnerable, you are going to help so many people with your truth. Love!

  2. This is beautiful. Let me just say that I am a completely happy, satisfied only child. I know that in my experience, I was able to do so much more than I would have had the chance to do had my parents had more children. I do not feel slighted in the least, and I have formed bonds with cousins and friends that I might not have, had I had siblings. You’re right that what’s meant to be will be, and God will always make that happen. My husband and I have been married for a little over a year now. When we met we assumed we would have children, and more than one. Now, luckily, we’ve BOTH changed our mind. We don’t know if we even want one. But we’ve talked, and decided that at some point we may “pull the goalie” (for lack of a better term), and leave it up to God. What’s meant to be, will always be.

    Your family is beautiful the way it is now, and it will remain beautiful if things change in the future. I think the most inspiring part of your post is that you clearly have an amazing relationship with your husband, and that is the most important part. For you, for him, and for Ayden. 😉

    • Shaunna, thank you so much for your feedback!! I so appreciate hearing from only children, who loved their childhood. 🙂 And ‘pull he goalie’!!? AMAZING. haha I love that. xo

  3. I read this and some of your other blogs this morning with my coffee.Thanks for bringing up the subject of having an only child.Being a mother of one myself I can relate.-I like how you kept that real.You are so right about not being less of a mom.Only children have so many advantages but also have there share of challenges.At the end of the day,your selflessness and respect of Mikes wishes will be honored by God.Your family will be beautiful one way or the other.-Good writing Em! I know you will write a book someday. 🙂

  4. Thanks for sharing this Em! I’m an only child and because of that my mom and I are best friends. I think if I had another sibling my relationship with my mom would definitley have been different (not better or worse … Just different). Today, I look back and I’m grateful for all the special moments we shared together and woukdnt want it any other way. God knows what is best for you and will put exactly what you need in your life. I think he knew what he was doing with Ayden ;).

    All that being said, I’ve dreamed of being a mom since I was born. At 31 and 100% single, I look around at all of my friends having children and wonder why isn’t it my turn yet? Meanwhile getting the,”You don’t have kids – lucky!” comment. I constantly have to stop and count my blessings, not take things personally, and trust in God. We all deal with this struggle in one way or another…. You are not alone. Xoxo

    • Thanks so much, sarah. I fully believe you will become a mother!!! (I had ayden at 32). People don’t realize how personal some comments and questions are. Thanks so much for sharing your experience. 🙂 xo

  5. Emily, As usual, this is great. Talk about honest! My man is 3.5. And he RULES. While i was pregnant, i hurt my back, and was in a lot of pain toward the end of my pregnancy, and had back surgery when he was just 5 months, putting me out of commission for 4 weeks. He was allergic to soy & dairy for the first year, which caused him real misery for the first chunk of his life. I couldn’t breastfeed, which crushed me. Long story short, it wasn’t a piece of cake.
    So now that he is 3.5 and potty trained, and HYSTERICAL, and smart…ok, you get it, i am not all that into going back there…atleast not just yet.
    Some days, i feel really awful about not giving him a sibling. Other days, i feel calm. I feel like i am doing a good job, and i am not overwhelmed. Which i love. My life is not chaos. I can’t do chaos.
    so, i focus on how insanely blessed i am to have a healthy, happy family of three. And that is good enough for me.
    xo,
    a

  6. Thank you for writing this Em. Miss you BTW. My husband and I have been struggling to get pregnant for awhile. A few months ago I actually got pregnant but lost the baby. We’re still trying but I often wonder if it will ever happen. Since it’s taken so long, at this point it’s not looking like our dream of 2 kids will be in the cards. We’d be lucky to get one. It’s weird but, even before I get lucky enough to have one, I’m already grieving not getting to provide a sibling. Anyway, I love what you wrote. It seems there’s a lot of external and internal pressure to be the perfect mother these days…. or, maybe it’s always been that way but I just notice it now.

  7. I came across this on Pinterest somehow.. I like to think God led me to it. I feel like I have written this story with my words except I have a boy and his name is Jesse. the rest is all the same!! Thank you.. your conclusions have given me aha moment of peace. much love.. from another judged but proud mom of one.

    • Oh wow. Thank you SO much for your comment. I feel so vulnerable with some of my posts, but this is the exact reason I write them. So glad you can relate. Thank goodness for Pinterest! 😉 Wishing you lots of peace and unforgettable moments with your little boy.
      xo

  8. Thank you so much for posting this. While my situation is a bit different, I have had 99% of these same emotions. My husband and I were high school sweethearts and together for 10 years, married and surprise baby 9 months (exactly) later. She was the most amazing thing that ever happened to me but he had a harder time with the transition and ended up cheating and leaving even after am attempt at counseling when our daughter was just one. I have always felt “jipped” for only being able to have one child (who is now an amazing 9 year old girl!) I was the one who was “born to be a mother.” I have always wanted childREN (and I am a preschool teacher too). One brother has 2 children and my younger brother has 5 of his own- all born in between the time my daughter was 1 until she was 8! It’s hard not to feel jealous of others and ask ‘why not me?’ BUT…. I always immediately feel guilty for even feeling this way. She is amazing. If I only get one, She is the best there could be! I worry about our tiny little family -just her and I. Which is why I was searching for blogs like this. I think I will try and write that list you mentioned about all my blessings. Thanks for the inspiration.

    • Alyssa! You are amazing. First of all, thank you for taking time to read this post, and second thank you for sharing so openly and honestly. What I often hold on to is the fact that my ‘plans’ for my life always pale in comparison to what the universe / god / whatever you want to call it, have in store for me. You sound like an incredible mother. I think one of the gifts of a small family, is the ability to achieve an incomparable type of closeness between you and your child. Wishing you lots of love!
      xo, Emily

  9. I just stumbled upon this blog. Thank you so much for saying what you did. I am in almost exactly the same position as you and all the feelings you mention are pretty much exactly what I feel! (a few tears here) I think I’m perhaps not quite as far along with being OK with it, but getting there, and it is amazingly helpful to realize that there are other people in similar situations, having similar feelings. I don’t feel very articulate right now – just…Thanks.

    • Amy,

      Thank you so much for your response. It really helps me to know I am not alone, as well. As moms, we are all in this thing together. 🙂 Sending you lots of love and light. And as a side note, I have my days where I don’t necessarily feel in acceptance, but I think that is because I am human. 🙂 Thanks again for taking the time to read and respond. 🙂

      xo

  10. Emily,
    Wow! I read this and just started crying. I’m going through the same. My husband and I have a 4 year old boy who is amazing but I always wanted more children. When our son was about one my husband said he does not want anymore. No changing his mind. I cried ALOT when he first told me and went through so many different emotions toward him but after ALOT of prayer God helped me through it. He made me see it in a different light. Now when people ask I say my husband can’t have anymore. As much as I’d love another I’d rather have a happy family of three than a split up family just because I want more kids.

    Ive come along way since that first conversation however I still have bad days. Whenever my family or friends announce they are pregnant again my heart hurts a little. Then I feel quilty for not being happier for them. I’m SO glad I found your blog and appreciate you putting your feelings out there. It makes me realize I’m not alone! I really thought I was! So thank you so much. I’m going to try what you do when you’re a little down and make a list of things I love about my life and husband and what not.
    Thanks again for sharing,
    Erin

    • Erin,

      It sounds like we have A LOT in common! It helps me too, to know that I am not alone, so Thank YOU for reading and commenting. I feel really grateful for other mamas like you, who remind me that we are in this mommy-thing together!!

      xo

  11. I just read your article and I just had to comment! Your article was exactly what I needed to read. Thank you for sharing your raw emotions. My son is 15 months old. I’ve been doing some soul searching regarding having another baby or not and you are truly an inspiration. Our family experience hasn’t been all rainbows and butterflies. We lost our first pregnancy at 11 weeks and that was extremely tough mentally on both of us and physically for me. We got our hopes up to try again finally and our son was born in Nov of 2014. He was born with a condition called right coronal synostosis and had major skull surgery at 6 months old. He’s amazingly strong and healed very quickly. All things considered, we are very lucky that he could be fixed. Needless to say, our first year was tough and it still is. On top of everything else, my son still wakes up a lot at night. Although our son brings us so much joy and love, it’s been tough. My husband doesn’t want another baby. I think he is afraid of something bad happening again. Our eyes have been opened to the many things that can go wrong. We are finally in a good place now and why interrupt that? At first I was a little resentful and trying to think how I can convince him. I’ve become at peace with it and appreciate him trying to protect our family of any other stressors. We’re happy and healthy and will stop right here. One and done for us! Maybe if we had a different journey, we would have chosen a different path but it was worth every bit to have our beautiful baby boy. Now I feel I can enjoy life finally without worry. It’s the nosy questions from family, friends and strangers that you have to deal with. Complex answers for simple questions and it’s hard not to get too emotional. My husband and I came up with the idea if anyone asks, that we’re just going to ask a crazy personal question back. Haha. I know there will be days when I think that it would be a good idea to try again for baby #2, but I’m going to use your idea of writing down things I’m grateful for instead. Why add when you have all you need right in front of you!!!! Thank you again for your article.

    • Hi Amanda!

      Thank you so, so much for this response. I am so sorry for your pregnancy loss, and such a tumultuous first year of motherhood–I cannot even imagine. Super glad that things seem to be smoothing out for you!! You have such a great attitude, and it’s funny how our path in life doesn’t always look exactly how we pictured it, but always works out better than we could have imagined. Thanks again for reading and commenting! It means so much to me that others can relate!!

      xo

  12. I just found this on Pinterest also. I was brave enough to search “only child” as my near-four year old watches the baby sibling episode of Daniel Tiger on PBS Kids (stupid baby margaret! kidding, not kidding). I could have written this post. And I’m inspired by your bravery. I go through cycles of being incredibly sad to so very, very happy. I’ve decided to feel my feels and ride the wave so I don’t get sucked under. Thanks so much for sharing!

    • Bonnie!

      Thank you so much for reading this and commenting! I find that connecting and relating with other mamas, really saves my butt on hard days. Glad to know we are all in this mommy-thing together. Whether we have one child or 10.

      xo

  13. I can’t even tell you how happy I am that I found this. You’ve put into words exactly how I feel..and what’s happening to us. I didn’t know my husband could “change his mind,” either. I hope he changes it back, but our son is wonderful and perfect and it doesn’t make me any less of a mom to only have 1 baby. Thank you. Really.

    Thank you for letting me know that i’m not alone in this.

    • Amy, thank you so much for taking the time to read this. I am so glad you were able to relate and to know that you are not alone. Us mamas gotta stick together, after all! 🙂 Sending you lots of gratitude and love!
      xo

  14. I think this is a lesson that God teaches all of His children at some point with a lesson uniquely tailored to who they are as a person.

    Ours came this time last year when our youngest (then 3 and now 4) became disabled. She survived two aneurysm bleeds, the second being so massive she coded and was gone for a couple of minutes, to have a stroke that caused brain damage during the surgery to repair them. She is nonverbal, on a ventilator, has a gastric tube, and spent so much time in a hospital bed that she atrophied to being an infant in a 4 year old body when we got her home. She and my wife spent 6 months away from my oldest and I.

    We had to learn to take what each day was for itself on its own as we didn’t know what tomorrow would bring. We still do that to this day as we have no idea what her lifespan will be. I have also learned that when big surprises, life changes, or trials happen we should take the opportunity to reassess our baseline for normal and change it accordingly as needed.

    In our situation, not changing would have kept us a slave to all that we lost and our focus on what could have been. It would only shackle us to a life of uncertainty an we would miss blessings from God. I changed my normal based on what we experienced. My new normal that I use is that she shouldn’t be here (the three amazing neuro doctors told us one day that the night before they were all talking about her and they frankly didn’t understand how or why she was still here, we replied that she is here because of His grace and as a testament that He answers prayers still) because she shouldn’t. Each day we have with her shows is Hos grace and teaches us a lesson whether perseverance, patience, appreciation for even the super small events, and love. We have come to cherish each and every single day as well as the small things like lifting a finger. We consider ourselves lucky for the lesson even though it cost a lot.

    Thank you for sharing. We are called to build one another up. I firmly believe if we are looking hard enough that we can learn something from everyone we meet in life.

    • Wow Barry,
      Thank you so much for sharing your story! The strength of you and your wife is completely inspiring. I am so sorry for what your family has had to endure, but also deeply moved by the way you have all adjusted. Your daughter is a miracle and it sounds like you live each day knowing that!

      Sending love and blessings to you and your family, this holiday season and in to the new year.
      xo

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