I’m an only child (If you can’t tell by that fact that I clearly LOVE to talk about myself.)
How weird is the saying ‘only child’? I’m not sure it even really makes sense. It also sounds a bit like lonely child, which doesn’t always have to be the case.
Apparently as adults, only children are more self-centred, less co-operative, and less likely to get along with their peers. (I am pretty self-centred to be fair but I am also extremely co-operative and pride myself on how well I get on with people- or my ability to pretend to get on with people.)
My childhood was filled with nothing but love. What I lacked in siblings I made up for with quality time with my parents, friends or family. When my parents worked late, I stayed with my Aunty and Uncle or had dinner at a friend’s house (This is the root of my childhood obesity, because I would eat at a friend’s after school and then lie to my Mum when she picked me up and say I hadn’t eaten; very clever, very detrimental to losing puppy fat). As there was only me, my parents often took me with them to dinner parties or actual parties, so I never really felt alone. They made sure that we rarely went on holidays just the three of us, always accompanied by family or friends. My cousins acted as my siblings on summer holidays or at Christmas, and I only remember ever getting jealous of them once..
We were in Florida and as they are twins, when they were younger they used to have a lot of matching clothes. We were all getting ready to go out for dinner and I ran to the twins’ room to ask what they were wearing, so that I could match with at least the colour. Steph said “green” so I ran to my wardrobe and put on every green item of clothing that I could find. However, when I got to the car, Steph and Jess sat giggling dressed in matching PINK outfits. (yeah that’s right bitches, it’s scarred me.)
It wasn’t loneliness that I felt, and I’m not even sure it was jealousy, perhaps it’s best described as a sort of missing out. It felt a little like jumping back in on a series when you’ve missed an episode: you sort of know what’s going on but you’re constantly trying to join the dots with your imagination. At school, I would even get sad when someone’s little brother or sister joined in reception, as they were lucky enough to have someone there that they could swap sandwiches with and go home with at the end of the day, which I didn’t. Sometimes I would dream that I really did have an older brother and he’d just gone away for a little bit but would come back and surprise me at the school gates.
I craved the reflection of looking at someone and seeing myself. Still to this day family resemblance fascinates me, don’t get me wrong when my cousins and I all stand in a line, we all look similar, but it’s not quite the same. And although I have friends that are like my sisters, and my cousins are a pretty close match, I’ve never truly experienced that bond. The unbreakable bond of blood. I’ve been lucky because my Mum is a blend of older sister and mother. I tell her everything. Absolutely everything. There isn’t one thing that I’ve done that I couldn’t tell her. She knows how to make me laugh when I’m so angry that I could cry, and she also knows how to make me angry in the first place. She truly is the closest I will ever get to having a sibling, but she’s my Mother first and foremost, so it’s still not the same.
When thinking about how being an only child has shaped me, I don’t think it’s my childhood that comes to mind. It’s now that it’s starting to affect me. Everyone assumes that it would be the lack of people to play with when you’re little that would be hard, but playing by yourself as a child is easy. It’s as I stride into adulthood that I notice the void more prominently.
It’s times like when my Dad was in hospital being treated for cancer, or even when he came home and had to recover that I felt it. I couldn’t pick up the phone or stand side by side with someone that knew exactly what it felt like to see him deteriorate in front of our eyes. I couldn’t take shifts in being strong, pretending I was ok for my Mum so that she would feel ok. It’s times when I fuck up so monumentally that I don’t want the spotlight anywhere near me, I want a golden balls sibling to take the limelight so I can scramble backstage figuring out how I’m going to ‘pull myself out of this one’. It’s not wanting to be a disappointment, in anything. I’m their only chance of having grandchildren for example, and to be honest at the moment I’ve got more chance of landing on the fucking moon than being in a stable enough relationship to bring life into the world. It’s also the idea that when they leave, I really will be an only child. (Sad and serious, but so true I’m afraid.)
Having said all of that, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I have the undivided attention of my parents and because of that I feel constantly loved and supported at all times. I am independent because I’ve never been able to depend on anyone else to do the chores or buy the birthday presents. I am completely and utterly in love with being the centre of attention and have put on so many one-woman performances that nothing much scares me in regard to standing in front of people and speaking. I am unashamedly spoilt because I know how much hard work and love goes in to my parents being able to spoil me.
Side note: I have a problem with the word spoilt because, yes, I am, in the sense of never wanting for anything, but I don’t think that it’s spoiltme as an individual.
100% of what they have, they give to me, which has meant that I have attempted to be good at almost everything: guitar (grade 7), piano (grade fuck all, because one of my teachers was a pervert, and the other was a family friend and tbh I just went to bunk off Science), riding (highly allergic to horses), rugby (once you start playing contact it’s not as fun because your boobs hurt in the tackle and you start to fancy the boys on the pitch next door), dance (clearly not a ballerina, but watch me wind my waste, coming soon to a dance floor near you), singing (whenever I sing around the house Ellis tells me that I’m good but I would never sing anywhere but the kitchen or the shower) and acting (I may or may not be good at acting, but the training that I have had, has made me who I am today.)
There’s a lot to be thankful for as an only child, as there is with being one of seven. I can’t change it and no matter how much I wished for that older brother, he never came to the school gates. I think a lot of who I am has come from the fact that I’m an only child and I’m at peace with the good and the bad.
Having said that, if I am able to have children, I’d probably avoid having just one- and I can’t pinpoint exactly why.