Before we adopted our son, we purchased a decent-size home that could theoretically house four kids and us. We used to tell people that we were going to adopt twice and then do surrogacy until we reached the magic number of four. People jokingly called us Angelina and Brad, and we agreed and laughed along with them. Then we adopted one child, and all of that changed.
In the beginning, we just enjoyed him as a baby and got used to our new addition. It was all very manageable. I met my group of mom friends and we scheduled fun play dates - which consisted of us sitting around drinking wine while the babies rolled around on a blanket. Adorable. Easy. Our son slept incredibly well for an infant, so I didn't have to experience many sleepless nights (partially due to the fact that he was formula-fed). Really, the first couple years were a blast and a fabulous foray into parenthood. Then he hit two.
People talk about the "terrible twos" all the time, and I shrugged it off until it happened to us. He wasn't a monster, but he was a handful. Going out anywhere in public meant that at any moment, you might have to pick up and leave if he got fussy (which was often). He couldn't quite articulate all the words he wanted to say yet, so it made him frustrated all of the time. This was also around the time that my mom friends were getting pregnant with their second child. I thought they were crazy. My stress level was out the roof, and I thought that it didn't make sense for us to have another kid because my attention would be so divided, and I was certain to be a big mess = not the best parent. So we waited.
By the time he was four, he was fantastic to be around -- he morphed into my little buddy. All of the things I had longed to do with him, we could finally do -- Disney World, movies, miniature golf, etc. He was/is a great and happy kid, and I definitely feel as though I have a handle on everything, which makes for a peaceful existence. Amid all of this, I feel as though we are the only ones we know who have a single child. I feel there is an underlying pressure to have another kid. For us, this means either adoption or surrogacy, which is a long and daunting process -- something I'm not exactly as enthused about this time around. And then there's the whole gender issue. I would 100 percent want a little girl to balance out some of the testosterone in this house. Unfortunately, you can't really select gender with adoption, and while you can do this with surrogacy, it's insanely expensive and complicated.
So I ask myself, all the time: Do we really want another child or are we just succumbing to the pressure to have another? Our son doesn't ever mention having siblings, and if he does, it's more as a playmate. I have news for him -- he won't be playing much with any sibling who is six years (or more) younger than he is. If you read my last article, you'll see that we aren't thrilled with our geographic location either, so does it make sense to add to our stress? Regardless, I can't help feel isolated from all the other parents with multiple children. They make me feel almost insufficient, or like we're doing it all wrong. No one has ever said anything along those times, but I can't count the number of times people have asked us, "So are you going to have another?"
To be honest, I'm on the fence, and time is ticking. I'm still in my 30s and have years left before I couldn't handle a baby. We've passed the window of providing a natural playmate for our son unless we consider fostering a child. In my head, there's no rush. To everyone else, we're the weirdos who have only one kid.
FRANK LOWE is The Advocate'sparenting writer. Follow Frank on Twitter @GayAtHomeDad and on Instagram at gayathomedad.