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The pressures of the bandwagon

When you are single, you notice other friends getting married one by one and you immediately feel the clock ticking in your head. (And, I'm not even going into the pestering intrusive prodding from the sundry social circle. )When married, either immediately in some cases or after a couple of years in others, the baby boom around you beings to affect you and the worries of having to deliver the first before the dreaded thirtieth year of age, begin to haunt you. 

The first one comes along in time. You get busy with all the diaper changing, breast-feeding, sleepless nights and before you realize the baby is past a year old. You are beginning to heave a sigh of relief, trying to put together the threads of your life once again; living life once again as a normal individual, happy as a unit of three. You've decided that this is it. Your family is complete and you don't want to re-shuffle the pieces of the jig-saw just as it is coming through beautifully. The child is growing well, you are loving the "me" time, the finances are just about right to fulfill all the needs. A little luxurious living will still take time but that's OK. You are prepared to wait, since you know the mouths to feed, clothe and educate is only one. One more might trip the balance in the wrong way and you probably do not want that. Also, the mental and physical pressure is too much, you decide. It helps that the husband falls in this line of thought.

Of course, some decisions in life can never be termed final. "What? no second? are you sure? how can you do this to your first born? Doesn't he/she need a sibling? Don't rush into this decision" : You face the interrogation in the court of your social circle quite bravely and convincingly (to your ears) laying down your cards of defense and trying for a quick acquittal. Each time you also fight the inner battles of whether you are taking the right decision, if the first one will be greatly affected by not having a blood-related sibling, and whether it might be too late if and when you'd want to reconsider. The questions from the outside slowly die down. You think you are being let off. But, no, you are mistaken, it was just a brief parole.

And, then the baby boom begins once again. Women, all around you are sporting the baby bump with a lot of pride (the apprehensions are always well-hidden, you see) and of,course,  a toddler in tow. The pressure builds up, once again. (Oh! when does peer pressure end! ) A nagging, tingling feeling of being alone in a minority camp begins to gnaw at you at somewhere in the corner of your mind. You push the thought away in a hurry. But, the damage is done. You are now beginning to re-think and doubt your earlier decision of "one and done". You begin to imagine a life with a second child in the family picture. At times, you feel overpowered and enthused by the new possibility, and want to jump right into the bandwagon. At other times the practical part of the brain takes over and begins to list the very things that you had considered earlier whilst setting up camp in the single child brigade. You are more confused than ever.

Does this seem like your story? I'm collecting as many views as possible, so please share your  candid thoughts, through your own experience or based on your observation of people.

Do people view a second child only as a companion for the first? When a couple decides to have more than one child, is it because of the social norm, a conditioning of seeing a family as a unit of four or more members? Does the temperament of the first child decide the need for or against a second one? What is the deciding factor for couples who having once decided to stick to one kid, later think of an addition?In such cases, are the second ones always a compromise and not completely welcomed as the first? 

Do single children automatically feel the need to have more than one child when they get married? If yes, why? Do they grow up feeling left-out and grudge the parents for not providing a ready play-mate? Is it really such a life-shattering decision to choose to have only one kid or none at all? 

Why is society so rigidly constructed that every time someone feels the need to step out of the norm, they are expected to justify their decision, made to feel apprehensive about having to regret their choice at a latter stage, made to feel guilty through subtle and non-subtle ways of the rule-conforming clan?

Comments

  1. Oh Uma, difficult as it may, don't allow other people's decisions to influence yours. For us, we wanted two, and did not want a long gap. Some people prefer a gap of about 5 years or so, which makes the elder child more independent, start school etc. For some parents, bringing up two young kids can be a challenge, it was a difficult 2 years or so for me personally. But we got through. I have friends who have all stopped at one child.
    I don't know about deciding on having a 2nd child based on temperament of first, compromise with 2nd child etc. In the latter case, it is unfair on the 2nd child I think.

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    1. Yeah, the first two years with the second will be quite tough..I've personally seen that with a friend of mine and also heard from other parents too. That apart, bringing up two will definitely be more challenging than one.
      I am seeing that couples who have two kids were generally people who had always wanted two-something they had decided on quite early.
      thanks for the valuable advice, Vibha!

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  2. Ah this is a very tricky one.
    No - the peer pressure never ends. The next stop will be how well your kid is doing in school as compared to your friend's kids! Then, did he get into IIT, did he get a good job, get married to the right girl etc etc etc.
    For us, there was no decision as such. We actually thought a lot for the first one - more than 2-3 years. Once we decided to take the plunge, it was a case of two or none! Also we did not want a gap of more than 3 years, so that also worked out.
    Don't allow peer pressure to bog you down!! Remember that you need far more help when the second one comes along but somehow family is never as enthu as they are with the first one! As long as you and the hubby are on the same page, that's all that matters.

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    1. You said it, Aparna! peer pressure will never stop.
      Now, that's a frank response..most people bush about when asked an opinion. All said and done, it IS more work!
      Appreciate the candid response, Aparna!

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    2. I also agree with aparna when she says that the pressure never stops- I too am asked if I am having a third!!! Also remember that the decision to have a kid can be logically rationalized only to a certain extent - it is also largely an emotional decision!

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  3. I hear you. I am there too. I hear them voices and opinions. But we know what we want. Me and DH had decided during our courtship period that we will have just one.
    Him being an only child and me having grown up with a sibling - we had our discussions. He has no regret till date nor does my cousin who is the only daughter. Both of them are just happy to have grown up as the only children in their respective families. When I asked them about how they felt about not having a brother or sister to play with both of them responded saying that they always had friends, cousins, kids in the neighborhood and never bothered to think in that direction.
    I had an aunt tell me to go for the second one but with her daughter she tells that one is enough - WT??
    I had another aunt tell me to go for the second and when I asked her why she stopped with one she said we did not want another. - WT??
    Everybody including me will have a lot to say...go with what you think and feel...remember that your life is like a canvas...its your painting...be the creator...there will always be critics around u...An artist simply expresses...

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    1. Lol on the double standards of some people!
      Agree, Swathika, people will have something or other to say, either ways and it is up to you to find the path that suits you.
      Loved the last lines of your comment. Also, it is reassuring to hear about single children not growing up feeling a void..
      thanks, Swathika for sharing your thoughts.

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  4. Oh Uma, don't get me started on this topic :). In my case, I always knew it had to be 2 - partly from being an only child but that was not the only reason. I think I also just wanted to go through the whole experience again :).

    The peer pressure will go on and on.. you know some people ask me if I ever wanted a 3rd :P !! By now, I'm sure you would have realized that you can't please everyone, you just have to decide what feels right to you.

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    1. Exactly, Aparna! My logic is also that you must go for a second or third if you feel as strongly AND the thought of going through the birth and thereafter does not leave you with chills!
      I am not quite sure if I do feel so strongly and the idea of having to go through the whole thing again is also not very appealing at the moment :-)
      gosh! people ask about a third??!!! WTH!!! hopelessly vetti people, I say!

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  5. All only children always want more than one usually and all with siblings still make choices. This is what I have observed around me. MY sis-in-law an only child was adamant to have atleast 2 if not more.
    It can get lonely sometimes,she says. I have a sibling. I still feel alone since he lives miles and miles away. Whats the point of a sibling I ponder?

    Wow! Uma.. this is a question I have been thinking for about a 6 months now as my daughter is now 2 years and yes everyone is starting the pressure. I dont have an answer still .. but I think I will tilt towards producing a sibling. Sigh! I am so not ready to go back to the baby days again though!

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    1. Err..Sirisha, I thought you were camping on my side! :-)
      I know, having a sibling does not really guarantee anything..although, there is that ready company while growing up.

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    2. I change every 2 minutes Uma.. I guess till I go to menopause and nature ends it for me.. I will be in dilemma :P

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    3. hahahaha Sirisha! Loved your reply! Let nature decide :)

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  6. First of all, I have many single children for friends and not even one of them has complained about the lack of a sibling. They always tell me that they never feel the lack of one for they don't know how it feels at all, so how can they miss not having one? And they have all grown up to be wonderful individuals.
    On the other side, I must tell you that having a sibling is very very comforting. It feels like you have a huge bolster to support you at any time in life. Am sure you know that too. So if you can provide that for your child, well and good.
    My sis went through the same crisis some time back. She finally went ahead for a second one. And I must tell you that the little new bundle is as welcome and special as the first. Probably even more, for the first one cherishes her too :) As a god given boon, there is no sibling rivalry yet.
    My sis says 'Yes, it is a lot of turmoil to go through once again but it is completely worth it'.
    Adding my thought to this, I feel it is good for the parents also in the long run. They will have two families to bond with later on which will be a relief to them and the children. I have seen parents of single children often hog that one child's time and life which can get very suffocating for the child.
    As a final suggestion, take your decision by yourself Uma. I had an entire world's pressures on me sometime back when I was in the groom search phase.
    It almost broke my back but I still stood firm, took my time and took my own decision and it has worked so well for me. If I think back now, am so glad I firmly said no whenever the answer was a no. So after all the logical considerations, listen to your heart for that little girl is never wrong :)
    And sorry for the mini post :)

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    1. As usual a well-balanced reply from you, Aarthy! :-)
      I agree with you on the support system that the children would find in one another.
      About the parents having two families to back on, I have to differ with you. The husband and me have decided not to stay with R or expect him to serve us during our old age. I'd personally like to detach myself and enroll in a old age society when the time comes, so the pressure and guilt of having to look after us does not fall on him. Even if I decide to go for a second, this will hold true.
      And, don't even remind me of the marriage pressure. I went thru all that and I know how it feels. But, at least I was sure then that I wanted to get married ;-)
      Thanks for the mini-post..they are always welcome :-)

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  7. I am still in the first paragraph of your post :( so just cant comment on the rest of it dear :( but yeah I am struggling really hard with the first paragraph you have written, in my life :D so wait till I am done with it for me to comment on rest of it.

    Very thoughtful written post! I will also wait for people to post their view :D

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    1. aww..Ramya..I can understand..difficult as it may seem, enjoy your couple time while you can..it will be tough to get that quality time later..

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  8. cannot comment on this because i m single, but i love kids too much, i wouldn't mind many kids...depending upon how rich i would be...because kids cost too much money nowadays...for branded goods, best education and peers influences :))

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    1. yes, you need to be quite well-off these days to want to have more kids :-)
      another important reason, we do not want..

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  9. me and hubby always have that discussion.. but cannot comment much till i have one atleast...

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    1. true, you need to experience having a child first..coz before I had R, I never really thought of how numbers can affect a lot of other things too.

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  10. The post is sprinkled wisely with a lot of questions, many of which I do not have (or know) answers to! But it certainly explains a lot of stereotype and jumping the bandwagon -

    but with a second child, I assume, the companionship / sharing matters more than aping another family tree pattern... or so was my bro born! :) to give me cccccccompany and get beatings from me :p :D

    Do visit my blog! Would love to see you by! *cheers*

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    1. I agree, there is sharing and companionship with a sibling.
      welcome here, Kappu..will def visit your space soon.

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  11. That's a tough one Uma. It is a continuous process . People keep pestering but what I have learned is that such decisions should never ever be taken on the behest of others. I am as of now happy with one. I keep hearing questions but there are lot of things I need to consider and no one knows the real situation. I had a brother and no doubt it is comforting to have a sibling but I have seen single children as well and they have turned out well. So what I am trying to say is what works out best for you is the way to go.

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    1. True, what is good for others need not be for us and this is quite a personal thing..The problem is when the line between what you see outside and what you feel gets blurred and you feel lost-something I'm going through currently..hope the fog clears out soon!

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  12. So Uma, should we sat that you were born so that I had a playmate? Isn't this a weird reason to have another one? It means children should be born in plural only. There cant be one.....how ridiculous. It is always like this.....most take the decision out of pressure. So make sure that they pass on the guilt to others. Very few people love a brood of children and have the capacity to take care and hence take the decision. For everybody else it is a social obligation.

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    1. I know, having a kid just for that single reason does not seem right. But, there is no denying of a support system too when there is a sibling..don't you feel so?
      But, again nowadays there are a lot of other factors that also matter while rising a child..it is not a given like the earlier times..

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  13. Well written Uma, as usual :)

    The pressure never ends, is all I can say. Unfortunately, we are answerable to all and sundry about personal topics. Whether someone wants to have kids or not, and how many, is only the couple's decision. Nobody has a right to ask questions or offer unsolicited advice. As a friend says, first the pressure is to marry, then to have a kid, then to have the next and it goes on. Best is to ignore questions and advice and just do what your heart/head tells you.

    Preeti

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    1. yeah, once you are finally sure of what you want or don't want, what others say or do will not matter. I think it is during the period of indecisiveness within you that the pressure begins to affect you.
      thanks, Preeti!

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  14. Interesting post Uma. I was never there though. I had a modest childhood, but full of loving memories of sharing it with my sister (with whom I am reasonably close to date). I am pretty certain that once my kids grow up, they will depend more on their friends than their sibling for emotional, moral and social support, but 2 kids still makes sense. They will share their childhood and that is special. Esp given the traveling nature of my husband's job.

    Was it social pressure to have my daughter? Yes, there was pressure. But I held off till I was ready (and I was always sure that it would be 2 or none). My son is 4 years and 6 months old, daughter 3 months old. Just the gap I wanted. Does it interfere with my career ambitions? You bet it does! But I have learnt motherhood is about battling and winning over guilt over one or the other thing. We can't have it all, but nor can our children. We do our best - both for ourselves and our kids.

    Good luck! Hope you figure out what works for you.
    Meear

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    1. You said it, Meera! motherhood is all about battling some guilt, one way or the other..
      Thanks, Meera..I hope I figure it out soon :-)

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  15. Very well written post Uma and I can so much relate to this post as I am more or less sailing in the same boat. I am happy with one...can't imagine going through all that all over again. My daughter turned two last month and there are so many things to worry about for even one! Given the fact that I am a working mum, things are even worse. Having a second one would certainly mean to leave my career which is again something I am not at all ready to give up.

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    1. Exactly, Anna! We have so much to worry about even with one, right?
      Good luck to you too...let me know when you make that final decision :-)

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  16. Your post made me smile...no no it was not funny or anything...just tht u r talking about whether to have a second when all around me[my whole floor] have 3 kids and 1 family has 4[4th was a mistake they tell me openly but a very happy mistake because after 3 boys the girl's birth was celebrated...still celebrating...the kid is spoilt rotten;-P]...all of these I'm talking about...hold ur breath...they are Indians;-o. Seriously I'm having a complex now;-P.

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    1. 4 kids, eh?? well, I've nothing to say..:-)

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  17. Hi Uma

    Came here from Aparna's. First time. Enjoyed reading through some of your posts. I happened to just read this article - thought I would send you the link. I have two kids but I would have been totally ok with one as well - each has its advantages. No guarantee one situation will turn out to be better than the other. I feel at the end of the day the child has to feel secure growing up into an adult - in which case they can handle things well - single child or otherwise. At the end of the day we only have ourselves to lean on...

    http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/17/still-lonely-in-a-world-with-more-onlies/

    Noon

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    1. Hi Noon, Welcome here. Read the link. I know, sometimes, I feel that probably it is unfair to the first one, yet I also know that there is no guarantee of how things will turn out eventually.
      " I feel at the end of the day the child has to feel secure growing up into an adult - in which case they can handle things well - single child or otherwise. At the end of the day we only have ourselves to lean on..." So true! thanks, Noon, for your comment. Hope to see you around :-)

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