Being an only child, taught me, that one day when I got married I never wanted just one child, because I did not want them to go through what I went through, even though it sounds lovely, it was a very lonely and solitary existence at times. I was lucky in many ways, but feel that in other ways you miss out so much. I never learnt from brothers or sisters who had children, the experiences of looking after babies, I never changed a nappy until I had my own children, I had never looked after a baby and did not have a clue, until I had my own. I never had cousins to play with or aunties or uncles popping in or baby sitting. In a way it was harder being an only child who wanted for nothing, than being in a larger family, learning about life, and how to deal with the many hurdles that came along and having people to talk to.
Growing up as an only child, I really did not think about what it was like to live in a large family. I was very much cocooned in my own little world, that was, my mum, dad and me. I had a lovely childhood, we had a ‘nice’ home, a ‘nice’ car and I always had ‘nice’ clothes. My mum would have dinner parties, (this was in the 1970s) and we would all dress up in long dresses, and sit up tables and eat nicely. Afterwards, I would be left to sit in a corner and read, or have to amuse myself, whilst my parents had a delightful evening.
I was used to being on my own, not having to share my bedroom, or fight to get into the bathroom. I went to a little first school where everything was just so unblemished, happy memories, and I was always picked to do the ‘dinner numbers’ or to do errands. It was if I was always the good girl. I did however find it hard to make friends. I did not have a brother or sister who brought their own friends home for me to know. Going to school as I got older became a nightmare, and standing in the playground on the first day, not knowing anyone was awful. We moved, so all eyes were on me because I was the ‘new girl’, no-one to run to, or show me where to go.
I never really talked about my day at school, I would just come home from school, do my homework, and play out with friends. There was no older sister to style my hair, or practice make-up, no talk of boys or sharing music, I just learnt it on my own. I never had to share my sweets, although I was brought up to share them anyway. I never had second hand clothes and if I wanted something special for Christmas like a Xylophone, then I got it, my parents did not have to share their money between other children. I never played board games, nobody to play with, so I had fuzzy felts and sequin and pin pictures. My outlet was reading, something you could do on your own, and not have to talk.
Friendships were suffocating, If I made a friend, then I would stick with them, I never had a ‘group’, I was very much a loner, and today am happy to be alone all day if need be. My best friend I have known for 30 years, over the years we have become very close, but only now have I finally learnt to let her go and not be jealous that she has so many other friends, including me, and I have to share her.