As a family becomes bigger, family resources become diluted among the increasing number of siblings in the family. Only children get more time, attention, money, and verbal interaction from their parents than do children with siblings. As demographer Judith Blake put it, rather bluntly, families with larger numbers of children tend to dumb down family conversation and activities to suit the youngest children in the family instead of the oldest or the adults, and thus “becomes weighted with infantile minds.”
Because Angelica is an only child our household is geared toward the intellect of adults. This could increase her SAT scores and help her go to a great college and go on to graduate school if she so chooses. Because she is an only child, we have the money to get her Farsi and Russian lessons, as well as music and dance and sign language and really tailor her homeschool experience to her needs and strengths.
Project Talent was a study that tracked 440,000 kids in high schools across the country until they were nearly 30. They tested the subjects for 32 types of intelligence and only children outscored others in 25 tests and equaled others in 4.
The book from which I am drawing this research is called One and Only, and is written by an only child who is also the mother of an only. It is an in depth, fascinating read even if it does have a natural bias.
Judith Blake is cited a lot throughout the book, and sometimes that isn’t a good thing. She tends to take the human factor right out of things. Big families are beautiful, and give you a network of people to love. It is true that a variety of researchers and writers including Dalton Conley have shown a real competitive advantage for only children. But then I look at friends who have 2, 3, 4, and 5 kids or more and see how much love they have and how their kids are never lonely.
Anyway, just doing some research on only children and birth order and finding some interesting facts.
My surgery to reattach my intestines and get rid of my colostomy bag is in less than 2 weeks, on Wednesday, October 25th. I am definitely nervous about it. Everything from getting an IV to having my intestines reattached and eating afterward without ripping my intestines apart, to the pain after surgery. I am afraid of the IV because nurses tend to have a really bad time getting an IV in me and I have to be stuck several times. When that fails, they may try to give me a midline, which is painful. I’ll find out this Thursday at my pre surgery appointment what the guidelines are for me eating, but whenever I’m allowed to eat I’m going to be afraid of a whole lot of pain and torn intestines. I am also going to miss food, as I’m guessing I won’t be able to eat for awhile. And I am dreading the pain when I wake up from surgery. I was in a lot of pain when I woke up from the surgery that gave me my colostomy bag, and this is supposed to be more major surgery than that.
At the same time, I am so thrilled that I won’t have to live with a colostomy bag anymore. I just have to get through this surgery (well, possibly two more surgeries depending on how things go) and I will be back to normal. I am so excited that I am counting down the days.
I’ve been busy the past couple of weeks. I’ve spent a lot of time hanging with friends and reading. I am excited about my new secret sister. I’m in a group that just started a secret sister swap. You get a name and address and some basic information about the person, and then you send them little cards and gifts. You also pray for them. In April you find out who your secret sister was. I need to get creative with my little gifts.
I am taking a break from writing and instead focusing on reading and researching. It refreshes me. You can’t take water from a dry well, or withdraw from a bank account you haven’t been depositing in. Well, I have withdrawn and withdrawn from my creative account and now it is time to make some deposits by reading.
Angelica’s 4th birthday was on October 4. We had her party on Sunday the 8th. Vicki and Joel, my inlaws, came to town for it and my parents and my sister were there too. My parents brought a pinata and she had a blast with it. She has been munching on the candy all week. She loves all her gifts.
“You need to have a boy to carry on the family name.” “It is your responsibility to have a boy. We don’t need more girls. We need a boy.” But, I explain, girls are wonderful and I would love ten more of them. My father had two girls and was happy with them. “Well then your family is history. They’re dead then.”
These were a few of the remarks I got from my husband’s grandfather and his grandfather’s girlfriend. And I was really taken aback. Society has advanced so much but to hear that a girl child is not as welcome as a boy child really threw me for a loop. How could anyone look at my beautiful baby girl and see her as being less than the best? Why is a boy necessary or even desirable when we have her? And if I did have another baby why wouldn’t I want to experience the joy of raising a baby girl again?
My daughter is not a consolation prize. She is not what you accept when you can’t get something better. There is nothing better and I would not favor having a son over her.
Girls carry the family legacy just as much as boys do, and in fact girls are often the glue that holds a family together. It is women that knot the ties that bind. And many of us do carry our father’s names probably either by keeping our maiden names or using our maiden names as a middle name. Whatever accomplishments I may have in my life, whether it is getting a book published or something else, my father’s name will be emblazoned on me and I will do him proud. No, my children will not carry my father’s name, but what is the arrogance of man that he thinks he can pass down his label through every generation? Do men really think that when someone achieves something great six Generations from now anyone is going to look back and say well your great-great-great grandfather must have been a hell of a guy? You can’t pass on a name forever, and if you have posterity worth being celebrated and researched, their mother and her forebears will be researched also.
What we need are patriarchal family units, but a more matriarchal society. The roles and achievements of women are just as important as the roles and achievements of men, and we are as much part of our family lineages as males are.
So no, I don’t need a son. I have a daughter to carry my husband’s family and mine. She is as much a Minner and an Applegate as she is a McLemore, and she will be part of the McLemore line after she marries. It is time to talk about the legacy of daughters.
I want my life to be an example of creativity and beauty to my daughter. Being a mother has completed me in some inexplicable way. It is as though I was born her mother, and Angelica’s birth was just a stage in my life cycle. When she was born it was as if I was a butterfly emerging winged from a snow white cocoon.
Because she completes me, and she widens my world, she has deepened my poetry. Motherhood has also been good for my productivity. It gives me less time to write. That may seem counterintuitive, but it is true. By allowing me less time to write, motherhood makes me focus when I do have time to write. Sometimes having all the time in the world just makes one fritter away time. When you become a mother, you appreciate time. That said, I still need my husband’s support for my writing. He lets me have a wonderful babysitter twice a week and gives me time to myself in the evening to read and write. Reading is the life blood of writing. A mother without any support and many children may find creating great literature next to impossible. Woolf was right when she said a woman needs money and a room of her own to write. But given critical aid, motherhood can enhance poetry.
-Reinvigorates me and gets my creative juices flowing
-Enriches my life and gives me more to write about.
-Makes me make the most of my time. I am super productive because I know how limited my time is.
Before I met my husband I intended to go to an MFA program before starting a family. I thought two to three years with nothing to worry about but writing would be ideal. Now that life has taken me down a different path, I see that for me nothing is further from the truth. Motherhood and the awesome responsibility it entails gives me a purpose, something everyone who wants to write should have. If your whole existence is writing, you may find you have nothing to write about. See the proliferation of novels and short fiction about writers/MFA students by writers/ MFA students.
This is not to denigrate MFA programs, which can be wonderful. I am simply saying that motherhood has in many ways been a rigorous training ground for my poetry, and that the breadth of experience it provides me is nutritional for my fertile mind.
Shades of slate and gun metal pursue me
in a way the other women wrapped in their profiles and friends
would understand more than they want to believe.
Our spirits dream while we say,
How much? That’s too much.
I have to have her there by 3.
We need to get away. It is never just us.
In the suburbs I drive over hillock after hillock
again and again,
for bread and milk,
my fingers searching beneath my skirt for something so dirty it is clean,
so corrupt as to be pure.
Today I read something really interesting in my devotional. It talks about God wanting us to pay attention to the way He designed us. It says we should dive into the things God has designed us to naturally focus on and that we should examine where our talents lay. Our talents are God given, and they tell us something about what He would like us to do with our lives.
How did God design you? What are your gifts and passions, and how are you using them? The answers to these questions can tell you a lot about how your Creator wants you to live.
I need to give this a lot of thought, especially now that Craig has decided we are stopping at one child. Right now Angelica fills my days, but she is growing fast and will soon be grown. I only have 14.5 years til she is 18. I will only be 42 when she goes to college. How can I make sure my life is still productive and vital after she is gone? What will I do when there isn’t a little person who needs me?
I will have to find a way to harness my gifts (what are my gifts?) and pursue my passions. I don’t intend to go back into the work force. But maybe I’ll open an art supply store or maybe I’ll volunteer through a church or start a ministry or open an art gallery or teach classes in something. I know I’ll be writing. I will write no matter what. I know I’ll be scrapbooking. I know I’ll be blogging and taking photos. These are all things that I can do in the season of motherhood and beyond to further enrich my life and keep my identity. But what causes and passions can I pursue when Angelica is grown that maybe I can’t pursue while she is young? What does God want me to do with the second half of my life, now that I won’t be raising children into my 40s and middle age?
I’m excited to find out what life has in store for me, and to design a life that my Creator wants me to have. In my devotional it talks about God being excited to take on the journey of our lives with us, and I love to think of that. Maybe God is as excited as I am about the next twenty years, and the twenty years beyond that. May God help me to craft a creative, fulfilling, accomplished life that touches the people around me.
Queen Frostine white
That sparkling pristine face
and those clear eye stars
a doll heartbreakingly perfect
The children salivate when they see me,
and dream of their own.
This is the exploratorium, she tells me.
The room is filled with grinning toys.
and the dolls go ignored because it is hard to play a mom
when you can’t reach yours.
I am snow. Not real snow. I am too thick and fat and warm for that. But I am equally fickle, white, storm tossed, blinding. There are many just like me swirling in this orb. And who I love is this boy. He is so little, his smile almost too wide for the edges of the plane on which we live. He is a good boy, quiet and sad. I know that if I am not his mother I was meant to be. Still, his life is thin, will tear at a touch, and he will slip out of existence like a mirage of water. I will be left tumbling over strange faces who may have that sweet jaw line or wiry hair, but are not my son.
The components of motherhood are sweet,