Being a mother comes in all shades, many dimensions and with varying expectations. From the moment we know we are expecting, we experience a complex array of emotions. In many ways we are not only carrying our own wants and hopes but the generations of mothers who came before us.
One aspect of those expectations is how others view us as a mum and does how many children we have play a part in how they feel? I have heard a mother of three casually pass a comment to a mother of one that ‘it’s ok for you – you only have one child to deal with’. This throwaway remark is rather patronising and worse still, belittles the other mums role as a mother.
With women taking a measured look at all aspects of their lives, some make the decision that they want one child. There is no other agenda to this choice, they simply want one child and feel this decision is the right one for them and their partner.
Motherhood is a joy and privilege – as well as jolly hard work. However, being a mum is about parenting, not the number of children you have. All the love, caring and devotion you pour into your child are not ‘diluted’ because the recipient is one child.
The reasons why individuals actively choose to have one child can be simple or emotionally complex but they are deeply personal and come from a place of understanding ourselves and our hopes for the future.
Natalie Browne, 32. Natalie lives in Hertfordshire and works in a school as a secondary school teacher. Natalie is currently working 4 days a week but will increase to full time from September.
Natalie shares her story, ‘I met my husband online about 11 years ago. We chatted for a while but then didn’t talk to each other for a while. Then one night I went out and got “slightly” (read, very) drunk and managed to break my nose on a traffic light pole. Being drunk I found the whole trip to A&E hilarious and posted photos of myself covered in blood in hospital. The following day I got a text on my new phone asking how the nose was. Didn’t know who it was, we chatted and eventually I realised who it was! We met up a month or so later and the rest is history! We moved in together 6 months later, got engaged a year after that and married in July 2016.
I have always wanted children but have never been massively broody and not the sort of person to want to hold the new baby. We always discussed having a son and how we would name him Arthur and have his middle names after our fathers (who have both passed away). After a performance (I sing and play piano) I didn’t want a glass of red wine (which is a MASSIVE for me) and my mum joked that I could be pregnant. The following day I took a test, but no longer had the box. Husband got the test as I was Googling what to see if you are/aren’t pregnant and he said “What does it mean if it says Pregnant 3-5 weeks?”. We weren’t trying and had got pregnant after a night which included plenty of alcohol. We had discussed getting pregnant and were going to start trying that Christmas (it was then April). I’m glad it happened like that though as looking back I think we were rather naive thinking we could easily get pregnant when we wanted to.
When I found out I was pregnant I was upset – mainly due to all the plans we had for the summer and that I wouldn’t be able to do them, or enjoy them as much as I would have liked (ie. 3 weddings when I had to be the designated driver and a festival with no booze). A few days of knowing and I ended up being happy!
We had always discussed having a boy to pass on my husbands name etc. But we found out we were having a little girl. I didn’t know how to feel about it and it didn’t really hit me until after she was born. Now, I don’t think the bond I share with my toddler would be as strong as it would be if she had been a boy!
My birth story isn’t pleasant – after being 11 days late and having to have an emergency C section our little one was in NICU for 3 days on a brain wave scanner and we weren’t able to hold her until she was 3 days old. I suffered mentally from the birth. I hated being pregnant. When my little one turned 1 I looked at photographs and decided I didn’t want to be the fat mum and lost 3 stone. (Ok, it was a lot harder than that and took over a year but I did it).
I am now in a fantastic place mentally and physically. I love my daughter with all my heart.
We have discussed the idea of having another baby. I don’t want to. My husband is happy with our daughter and doesn’t want to have another baby unless I changed my mind. We are now financially stable and that will only get better. We will be able to offer our little girl opportunities that we wouldn’t be able to if we had another child.
Despite being in my early 30s I am the only one in my female friendship group with a child. I believe that women are starting to put themselves first before settling down to have a family. I know that me and my friends are fantastic role models for my daughter and I hope that society sees women as more than just child bearers.
It doesn’t matter what I say, I will still get people asking “when’s the next one” and when I say I don’t want another child “Oh, you’ll change your mind”. – No I won’t. I love my daughter. We got it perfect on the first go. If you won the lottery, would you carry on playing?’