When I was growing up, there was a first-day-of-school ritual that went like this: After the class recited the Pledge of Allegiance, the teacher would ask each of us to stand up and talk about what we did on our summer vacation, and to share something about ourselves that made us unique. I'd always say, "I went to Rhode Island with my parents. And I'm an only child."
There weren't any other only children in my class, so my status made me feel different, but "different" as in "special." Back then I loved everything about being an only child: my superclose relationship with my parents, who lavished me with every opportunity, educational and otherwise, that my heart desired; our neat and orderly house, where I had my own bedroom and bathroom; and the ease that I felt around adults.
As I got older and met other well-adjusted and successful only children, I couldn't imagine raising more than one child myself. But it wasn't merely pure emotion that led me to this decision. I saw practical reasons for having a single-child family, including the soaring cost of childcare and the challenge of maintaining a work-home balance. I wanted to offer my child the same emotional and financial advantages that I enjoyed, and my husband, Aaron, happily agreed with me.
I hope that our son, Eric, now 2 1/2, will come to appreciate his one-and-only status the way I did mine. But his experience will be very different, in at least one respect: He'll have lots and lots of company.