Was I lucky? Was I spoilt?

by on January 22, 2011

in Stories

I am a 54 year old only child living in Australia. My father was 42 and my mother 35 when I was born. I was assured by my parents when I was growing up that I was spoilt and luckier than other children because I had no siblings I had to share with. I believed this for some time, but as I grew older I realised it was a fallacy. I was given very few toys as this would spoil me, and clothes were basically hand-me -downs from cousins as my parents were convinced I would be over indulged otherwise. I played contentedly with my few toys – became very skilled with a tennis ball, lots of imagination games with my 2 dolls, yo yo’s were also a favourite with all the time I spent practicing tricks.

Fortunately, when I did finally settle into school socially – about age 10 or 11 I gained friends and have always had valuable friendships throughout my life. I still have good friends from my school years – friends are so important when you’re an only child. I had counselling at one stage of my life and pointed out to her that, only children don’t always experience a besotted life. It sometimes happens that couples can have a child, and than resume their life with barely an interruption. The child, being quite powerless on their own, has to accept whatever is the status quo, and if they desire, parents can be as selfish and self absorbed as they wish.

I left home at 18 (I just had to get out and find a life) and married at 21 and had 3 daughters who are all now adults. I adore my family, but at times I find I can become a bit withdrawn – I’m aware of it and now realise it is my ‘only child’ needing a bit of space and keep it minimal. Of course the adult perspective is, there are no nieces and nephews, and therefore no cousins for my children growing up, which my daughters missed dearly.

My mother is now 90 and complaining because I should give up my working life to look after her. I had a childhood of being a latchkey kid because my mother was too busy with her social life to bother with a child – materially or emotionally. I was left to roam around and amuse myself, and also to guide myself all the way through childhood and adulthood.

How I wished I could have discovered I had some brothers or sisters.

  • Sandra Kathleen

    I have read your story with great interest as I am also a 54 year old Australian only child. My parents were married at age 22 but chose to wait 10 years to start a family so they could “plan” everything such as building their own house and aquiring things even the connection of the sewer was taken into account ! This behavior is typical of my parents even today at age 87. So when I was born in 1958 it was all perfectly mapped out. They then chose to wait until I was at school and 6 years old to provide a sibling or have the last ( they had planned to have 2 ) child. After a miscarriage, my father who was dominating and the decision maker as many were in that generation decided that they would not have another child even though there was no obstacle with fertility or anything else. My mother expressed regret to me of this many years later only once. I grew up with them and nobody else. I had cousins that I saw occasionally and neighbours that had children that I played with but this was always quite hard for me as I always felt the isolation of it and I was definitely unusual to the other families and children. I used to get all the usual stupid comments about being spoilt and why was I an only child and when in primary school in the 1960′s and we all had a distorted view of what sex actually was, I got ” your parents have only done it once”. I invented siblings at school and often to other children who did not know me but they soon found out the truth later. I always felt great sadness when visiting the homes of my friends when they would squabble/play or whatever with their brothers & sisters. I could write forever on this topic which has consumed my life with disappointment. I especially felt it when going through rough patches in my life, the teenage years of which my parents had no idea how to deal with as people from a different era and later in my life when I went through a divorce and could have used a sibling in my corner or someone to have that loyalty and closeness with. I have 3 adult children that I have a wonderful relationship with and thank god for them each day. They are very close and I have brought them up to value each other first in life without question. They are very close and support each other immensely. My parents are elderly and selfish still but I have a reasonable relationship and wish to leave it that way. My children will assist me with them when needed over the next few years and I have a very supportive partner. Life is full of disappointments sometimes but for me being an only child has been the biggest disappointment of my life and even more so because It has always been something I could never do anything about. I know what you mean when you say you wished that you had discovered some siblings somewhere. I would have wanted that too but I know that was never the case either. Don’t get me wrong I do value my life and the wonderful friends and people I have in it and I realize not all only children feel the way I do but this has been a very serious regret for me personally all my life.

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