I saw this meme recently, and I know they were trying to be funny, but it still hit me right in the feels—and not in a good way.
The meme said, “My cousins were one of the reasons my childhood was so awesome, and I feel sorry for people who didn’t have that.”
Okay, let’s move beyond the whole “one of the reasons” when the person implied cousins, plural.
First, from my own personal childhood perspective, I can totally relate to this meme, because I have a plethora of cousins and two brothers and therefore lots and lots of playmates who helped make my childhood awesome.
BUT… (there’s always a but, eh?)
Here’s my issue with this meme: If my daughter has children (she currently insists she won’t because, “parenting seems hard”), they will grow up without cousins.
Why? Because she’s my only child.
Why is that? Because my son, my other child, died, almost five years ago.
So yeah, that meme hits a nerve. And that’s just me; I’m guessing parents who choose to have one child are likely offended too, and with good reason.
Because you know what? Having an only child has some very real perks.
First and foremost, there is no fighting over front seat/movie night/dinner options/seat at the table/bedrooms/bathroom/music/the dog/friends/parents/anything at all. Seriously. There’s one child. They pretty much get to name the game, when we put the decision in their hands.
Chinese takeout or pizza? We don’t have a preference, so you choose.
“Hey Mom, what do you think about switching my bedroom and the office, since the office is bigger and all you do is sit in there all day?”
No problem. Let’s do it. And let’s give it a full makeover while we’re at it.
“Hey Dad, can we go see a movie tonight?”
Yep, which one?
“Hey, can I drive?”
And let’s just put it out there: It’s cheaper.
When we first became parents-of-one-child, we overcompensated for a hot minute because we were grieving and struggling and trying to figure out how the hell to survive as a freshly minted family of three.
We let her have anything at all she asked for when we decided to take our annual spring break vacation anyway, only a few weeks after her brother’s death. We took an impromptu long-weekend trip to Florida. We moved her into a private school because we were trying to shield her from the typical middle school experience—not to mention the infamy—at the school her brother had been attending when he died.
If I was shopping for myself and she was with me, I bought her whatever she wanted (this was easy because my kid doesn’t ask for much—I know, I know; I’m lucky, but, y’know, not really since one of my children died).
My only-child is approaching her sixteenth birthday this year and I’m not nearly as worried about the increased insurance rates I know are about to hit because it’s only for one kid, not two. And that college fund we’ve been working so hard on? Well, it only has to cover one kid now. Hell, we may have a decent retirement fund after all.
To be honest, all the expenses have reduced. Groceries, electric, water, vacations. Sure, we have a smaller tax credit, but we have less cost too, so it balances. Or more than, in truth.
Yes, my daughter has her own cousins, and yes, one of her cousins is one of her closest friends. But some day, God willing (sorry, gotta put that out there because I really do want grandchildren), she will have her own child(ren), and they are the ones who won’t have their own cousins to hang with throughout life.
She’ll tell her kids about their late uncle, what an impact he had on her life, but that’s all they’ll have. Memories. Her memories. Their childhood will be awesome without cousins in it, and you know what?
No one needs to feel sorry for them because of it.