Traits of an only child

By Maura Wery

Recently, when a guy was introducing himself to me, he said his sister was coming down for Stampede this weekend. I asked if he had other siblings. No, just the sister. Cool, I said. I’m an only child.

Now there are a couple of responses that come from this revelation from me.

One, “Oh wow, you don’t act like one of those,” or the one said person gave me. “Ohhhhhh, an only child, eh?”

Only children get a bad rap. I’m not really sure why — maybe because society portrays us as bratty kids who demand both attention and items from family members. Maybe it’s because on television we act that way? Maybe it’s because sometimes we actually do? I can’t really say, but, like most things, not all only children are bratty and feel entitled. Actually, I’m quite the opposite. I chalk it up to my parents not letting me get a big head, and that came from good reason.

In reality, my parents never wanted just one child. My mother, met with excruciating fertility problems, turned to newly developed fertility medication to have me. It took my parents eight years before they had me. I’m not sure why they didn’t give up (I would have) but, they didn’t, so here I am.

A few years ago, my mother and I were talking about my lack of siblings. She told me she and my father had wanted to try again with the fertility drugs. My mom vetoed it after a few months because it was kind of taxing to have a marriage, a baby and crazy hormone levels at the same time. I don’t blame her. She did the right thing. I wouldn’t have wished that on anyone.

So I was their only child.

Am I spoiled? Maybe. In my own way. I’m really close to my parents. I know if anything catastrophic ever happened I could count on them to help me. They have given me opportunities over the years that I probably wouldn’t have had if I had siblings, for example, a trip to Disneyland at 13. They have given me advice and all the love a kid could ask for. What I’m saying is, it could’ve been worse.

But even as an only child, my parents didn’t give me everything I wanted. I have been working a steady job since 16.

I was able to choose the activities I wanted to be in. They held me to a high standard when it came to school and an even higher punishment if I failed. I paid for things that I wanted that my parents thought were ridiculous. I paid off my car, paid for my own higher education and have lived on my own since I was 19. I’ve never considered asking them for money when I dumbly spent my own. More importantly, I respect what they have done for themselves and me. Because of them, I know life isn’t easy and things don’t get handed to you, but if you work hard, you’ll probably get closer to your goals than if you don’t.

So yeah, only children can be the spoiled variety you might have seen on MTV’s reality show “My Sweet 16” but I was definitely not one of them. I never demanded a car, told my parents I hated them, or really did anything too ridiculous. Instead, I actually learned from them.

When my parents eventually pass on, I’m not really sure what I’m going to do. Not having siblings really makes that concept hard to think of. I assume my cousins, various aunts and uncles will always be a support system, but nothing will ever take the lessons and advice my parents have given me.

Maybe that’s where I am really spoiled: in always having a set of people there who care about me and my well-being. In emailing my mom over the week, I told her to quit worrying about me so much. She simply messaged me back saying, “You’re my kid. I will worry about you until I die.”

I hope so, Mom. I hope so.

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