Growing up like an only child, this mom reflects on watching her two children go through childhood together.
My parents were considered old when they had me. I’m the youngest of four with a considerable gap between my siblings and me. I’m what the Irish call a “late baby.” (Not an accident or afterthought; it just took a long time for me to get here.)
And it’s funny because now the age my parents were is almost the norm for having kids. Back then it was an anomaly.
The gap between us was so wide, it was almost like having five parents. So even though I had three siblings, I grew up as an only child. And the only thing I ever wanted was a baby brother.
I watch my children now, playing, fighting, laughing and living, and I’m a bit jealous.
They’ll have something I never did—the common bond of growing up together. Having someone who lived through that with you and can reminisce (and occasionally commiserate), corroborate and relish the communal experiences.
For me, my siblings and I grew up in different decades, different neighbourhoods, different households and really, with different parents.
What and who you are at 20 and what and who you are at 40 are often quite distinct.
My mom used to say I was the child she had to enjoy. And I get it now; you go through the rush and chaos of the diaper years, then suddenly you wake up with preteens and wonder if you savoured and enjoyed the moments enough. Did you give enough? Were you parent enough?
While I learned a lot from them, I know I’m a very different parent than mine were. But aren’t we all? Our lives and experiences shape not just who we are, but how we chose to raise our children.
One thing I hope my children carry on is that I tell them at least 10 times a day how much I love them and how proud I am of them. If I learned one thing from my wizened—okay, “old”—parents, it’s how important that truly is.
This is #1000families post number 53. Do you have a family story of your own to contribute to the 1,000 Families Project? Or do you know a family that might want to do so? Learn more about how the series got started and how to get involved here. You can find all of the #1000families posts here.