5 reasons why my first child will likely be my last

PHOTO: 123rf

Kids are cute and all (debatable, I know), but boy, are they restrictive.

Say goodbye to late nights, weekend benders, well-laid plans and what I probably miss most… 'me' time.

In a perfect world, a child would come with its own OS support, or at least a handbook. And where's the reset button when you need it?

I thought I had it covered, downloading apps and poring through any information I could find on the pitfalls of parenting.

However, nothing could prepare me for the responsibility of another human life, and it's a heavy one.

Yes, having at least two kids fits the image of the 'perfect' family unit (along with that white picket fence), but it's not always feasible.

Once you work through the inevitable guilt on an individual, parental and societal level though, it is okay to say, "One is enough".

Here's why:

1. I'VE PAID MY DUES

PHOTO: 123rf

Here's my rebuttal when someone lays it on me that I've a part to play in Singapore's population decline:

One, I've effectively replaced myself (with my son) and second, I've also added a contributing member to Singapore's working population in the form of my husband, who's a foreigner.

Lest accusations of job-stealing be flung, he works in F&B — an industry that many Singaporeans shun anyway.

2. IT'S OKAY TO BE SELFISH

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Will you be raising my child?

If not, why two people decide to have only one child should be nobody else's business but their own.

Yes, the reason for stopping at one may stem from wanting to maintain a certain standard of living. Same for DINKs (dual income, no kids) who're unwilling to sacrifice their comfy lifestyles to have children.

But being able to afford the child the best in life is a real concern as well, given finite resources.

Will I be able to provide one child, much less two, a university education of his choosing? Can I afford to bring them on European vacations? Heck, can I even pay for childcare?

Last I checked, preschool expenses for my three-year-old come close to $500 after subsidy (sans enrichment classes — a topic for another day).

While that can mostly be covered by the government's baby bonus ($8,000 at the moment) and dollar-for-dollar top-ups (up to $6,000 in the Child Development Account), it's not a bottomless money pit.

From my calculations, that pit will be dry by the time my child turns four next year.

3. CHILDCARE IS AN ISSUE

Besides being a drain on resources, finding quality childcare is a huge problem. Thankfully, I still have help (i.e. my parents) when needed — which is basically every single work day.

Without them, I may just be that parent who gets fined every day for picking their kid up late from childcare. Some centres have been known to fine $10 for every five minutes that parents arrive after doors shut at 7pm.

Finding a childcare centre near my office instead of home would then be the more logical choice, if it's even possible.

And in the worst-case scenario where we don't have a support system and can't afford hired help, one of us would probably have to take on the role of a stay-at-home parent.

The logistics of it all is at times overwhelming, and we're just talking about one kid.

4. THAT DARN 'BIOLOGICAL CLOCK'

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Let's face it, with age, I'm just not up for energy-sapping activities anymore.

And while having kids closer in age is ideal, it will also be financially draining to multiply the expenses (childcare, university etc).

Having children spaced further apart would be less of a strain, but at 38 with a child who's three, time does not afford me that luxury.

5. IT'S JUST EASIER

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Caveat: having a child is never easy. But a two-on-one situation when you have only one kid is definitely more manageable than a two-on-two, especially when the kids are young.

Having actual dinnertime conversation with your partner is in all likelihood an impossibility with two preschoolers.

Logistically, having only one child means we're also more mobile as a family unit — have you tried pushing two strollers around in a mall?

But a decision like that is not to be taken lightly and it's not all about the money.

To be really honest, FOMO on having more children is inevitable, especially when you realise that eventually, your child will grow out of his hard-to-handle years (hopefully).

I'm an only child myself, and my husband has younger step-siblings whom he's not close to and moreover, they stay in another country.

So it's highly likely that my son will grow up without siblings and cousins.

I do worry what will happen when we're gone — during Chinese New Year, especially.

Who is he going to visit, what if he remains single, and what about reunion dinner? Troubles my husband brushes off as trivial.

Another more pressing concern is whether my kid would turn out mal-adjusted just because he's an only child due to the lack of socialisation.

PHOTO: Pixabay

Knowing that my son is going to be my first and last child does leave me with a sense of wistfulness, which makes me hold him just a little bit tighter when I tuck him in bed.

But perhaps all we as parents can do is raise our son to the best of our ability and have faith that he will find his tribe in life, even if it's one that's not familial.

candicecai@asiaone.com

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