Thursday, June 3, 2010
Life with my "only" child
I don't know much about the "only" child world. Being the oldest of four, I've picked up a few sibling survival skills over the years. For instance, I learned that setting my alarm just one minute before my sisters would get me into the bathroom first. Also, in order to get my fill of mom's gnocchi, I would shovel the first plate full into my mouth and dive in for seconds (hopefully) before anyone else (or at least right after my brother). Personal space is just a concept, not an actual experience and sharing is something that happens whether I like it or not.
I've been married to an only child for almost eight years now. Through our marriage, I've learned characteristics that come with being raised sans siblings. I'm not saying that one experience is better than the other. Clearly, parents makes the decisions that are best for them and the family, which is the way it should be. But, I see how he winces when the decibel level climbs in our house and he's obviously uncomfortable when two or three other people try to join him in the bathroom for a pre-bed teeth brushing session.
Watching him navigate life with three little kids is almost like a clinical social experiment. I see something about to happen (ex: Rocco eyeing a toy that Gioia is holding), I quickly glance at my husband (who is currently oblivious to the soon-to-be-unleashed fury), I see Rocco grab the toy and watch as Eden jumps into action to protect her little sister. Uncontrollable screaming ensues. Quickly, I look back at my husband who is turning a subtle shade of red. His eyes start blinking faster. His whole body tenses. I can almost see the wheels of his mind spinning as he tries to decide what to do: go with his instinct and explode in frustration (which could result in a 30 minute disappearance) or take a deep breath and realize that this is his life. Meanwhile, I am almost unfazed by the chaos. In fact, sometimes the noise sparks a fond childhood memory. I'm sure that's a bit odd to some.
For the past five days, I've been raising an only child. My two older kids are in AZ, which means Gioia and I have been hanging out by ourselves. What a wildly different experience! I've been focusing solely on her, which has provided tremendous insight into her personality. I can take her to the park and enjoy the day myself because I'm not keeping an eye on three kids running in opposite directions. I can take her shopping and actually fill up my cart since two other kids aren't inhabiting valuable grocery real estate. Yes, there have been some mishaps. Without her brother and sister to occupy her, Gioia found her way into my mascara and decided to give herself a black eye, but that's pretty much the worst of it.
Raising a temporary only child is a huge and much-needed mommy respite. I'm so grateful to my extended family for this opportunity to take a breather and get to know my youngest a little better. But, of course, there is a big part of me that misses the chaos. My husband on the other hand.....