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 I adore my family, but at times I find I can become a bit withdrawn – I’m aware of it and now realise it is my ‘only child’ needing a bit of space and keep it minimal.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.