I felt bad for laughing but I couldn’t help it.
The Monday before school started (today!!) I took the kids to play on the Slip-n-Slide for a few hours with their cousins in the morning. It was a sunny day, by the way. Then they spent four hours playing in the pool and I gave them Happy Meals in the car. I knew what I was doing. I had agreed/volunteered to take the kids all day so my husband could work on a project but I had done my job and then some and was ready to be done, hard stop. My husband agreed to take over when I got home around 5:30. He then took the boys to the playground and finally pulled the pin on the grenade and announced that it was bedtime. The four year old melted down spectacularly, with sustained screaming and door pounding and parent-hitting and insulting. Story and songtime were canceled. There was a sobbing guilt trip because an offer to say goodnight to me was revoked after he (the child) was a dick about it.
I wasn’t actively glad this was going on—it’s just that, normally, I am the one putting that person to bed, the sobbing child who calls out longingly for the other, more fun, more loving parent. I am the one revoking love at the end of the day. It was nice not to feel that way, and hearing about it instead of living it was just giving me pure joy (along with a maybe evil feeling of satisfaction over how effectively I had worn out that kid.)
Hope you get a moment of being the Good Guy this week. It’s fun while it lasts! It is already over by now as you can probably guess.
Parenting: When your pride and joy says some hurtful shit to you
Last night I schlepped my daughter, 4.5, to a special after-hours event at the Natural History Museum, her favorite place on earth, and today she told me it was boring and I honestly almost cried. Why is that the meanest freaking thing to say? It really bummed me out. (It could have been that I was very tired and had to wait for an L train that never came and then transfer to the M14 and then back to the F and then transfer to the B to get there and then take a $30 cab home)
Most recent - on Tuesday when my 8 year old got a vaccination and refused to sit still, the nurse asked me to hold his arms while he sat on my lap, so I did. He thrashed and cried, and got the shot, and then immediately jumped up and yelled, "Mom! You made that harder on ME and on HER! Why didn't you wait until I was calm?!" Um, because you were in high negotiation mode and if I hadn't held you down, we'd still be in that room talking about it? Also, she asked me to? Have I mentioned he is 4'8" and weighs 86 pounds?
After I tell my almost 3 year old I love her, she snaps, "You don't love me!" and then 2 seconds later she's petting me and cooing, "But I love yoooou." It's very manipulative. Also, both my daughters have been telling me all summer how much I stink. They don't like the smell of the food I'm eating (even when they're eating the same thing), they tell me my breath smells like "something bad," they hold their noses when I walk into the room and say it smells like eggs. My husband got home from work tonight, and what's the first thing they told him? "Daddy, you smell nice."
The few times I have gotten really hurt and upset it’s been because my daughter said a gift I gave her was boring.
When my daughter was 4, I’d tell her I love her and she’d whisper to herself “…but I love Daddy.” This happened a lot.
"You know mom, if you had been the older child you would have been a better mother." -My daughter, age 8, obviously the oldest child
"I want to cut off your head and watch you bleed!" - My daughter, age 6
"I hate your skin!" And she puts a blanket on my lap to sit on it if I'm wearing shorts.
"…and Dad thinks that boring too! He told me once!" (From older teen, after calling something I was talking about “boring.”) There have also been muttered comments about "mom music."
My daughter said "Your face is a butt" the other day and it...stung
“You’re gross, mom.” Thanks. So are you.
“Your waist is soooo wide.” This was two nights ago from my 9 year old daughter
I had a long break between patients and I decided to surprise my son and pick him up early from camp. In front of all the campers and counselors he threw an absolute fit yelling “I didn’t want you! I want Maggie! Why did you come here?” Such a heartwarming moment. Maggie is our babysitter by the way.
When my son was 2, in the middle of an argument about whatever, he said, very somberly, "I not love you, Mommy." And I just couldn't breathe for a second and then burst into tears. He knew he had crossed a line.
Last night my 3.5 year old asked me (not at all in a mean or mad mood) “Who’s in your tummy now, Mommy?” I am not pregnant. Not sure if this counts, because he wasn’t trying to be mean, but maybe that makes it worse?
Cooking: Low carb meals
Ask the witches: Let’s hear from the happy parents of onlies
A reader wrote in:
"I was wondering if you could tackle people talking about the decision on whether to have more than one kid. Everyone I know has at least two if they wanted it, so I feel like I'm not hearing from the happy single child families. Just hoping to feel less alone! Or to hear that it's all worth it."
I polled some witchy friends in each category and got some perspectives:
One and done
“I feel like I can be a really good parent to one child, or give our whole family a so-so life with two. It has taken 2.5 years, separate bedrooms so I can sleep uninterrupted, and a low-dose of Zoloft for me to begin to feel like myself again. I didn't even realize how depressed I was until I got medicated. I don't know how things might be different if we hadn't had medical trauma early on, but I can't face the hypothetical stress of worrying about another child -- and I want to be 100 percent present for the one who's here.”
“Happy single-child family here. I'm not sure we ever really thought seriously about having another. I love the balance in my life of parenting, work, and having my own time. The three of us can easily fit in our small city home that we love, we can more easily swing school tuition, etc. Obviously there are cons, and maybe I'll regret having a small nuclear family when I'm old? But our son seems to be doing fine with cousins and friends in his life, and husband and I are both very happy, too.”
“I had my first baby at 35—geriatric pregnancy!—and my husband was 37. We decided to wait a year before we even talked about having another kid. A year came... and went... and... We just didn’t know what we wanted to do. Until the day my husband came home from work and shouted, "What if [name redacted] is the easy one?" That was it. He made an appointment with the urologist the next day.
I am pretty sure that my kid is a particular challenge, but, even if the second kid was mild and compliant and started sleeping through the night as soon as we brought them home... I don't think we could have gone through infancy again and stayed married—or sane.
Our family has just about enough time and money and attention to provide a good education and rich experiences and cuddles and whatnot to one kid. We would be scrambling—and I would have no career at all—if we had a second kid.
My only child is 13. They have a lot of friends, ranging in age from 5 to, like, 100. They have a solid peer group which means suppers and sleepovers and general fooling around with other kids and the siblings of those kids on the regular. My kid is welcome in a lot of homes. If they want to hang with a 5-year-old, they know where to go. Of course I have the occasional baby twinge, but those are diminishing, and I am confident that my husband and I made the best choice for our family in having one child.”
“I really wanted two and that was what we discussed and planned and then my shitty ex-husband unilaterally changed his mind without explanation and I was devastated. But now I enjoy the ease of one. We can hang out. I never have to negotiate rivalries and jealousies. Also, I never got along with my sister. So I definitely see the no-guarantees side of siblinghood. My kid's two closest friends are also onlies. I know quite a few parents of onlies. It's not unusual the way it used to be.”
“For someone who had a kind of unexpected pregnancy at 35 with a guy I knew for 5 months, I really don't know if my input is helpful. I've thought about having another, but more so because I feel bad for my kid being alone. Then again, my brother and I are five years apart and were never and are not particularly close. I can barely pay attention to the one I have and just thinking about having two kids talking at me, two kids crying at the same time, two kids wanting to go in different directions, makes me want to leap out of my skin. I like our little three person unit. And financially, we're just barely making it, so all the more reason to stay small. I definitely appreciate the ease of one. One carseat. One meal. One hand to hold. One opinion. But hey, only one times the love.”
“I wanted none, my husband (an only child) wanted two. So we compromised and had one. I rarely regret it! We’re able to have some space / time for ourselves that we would not have if we had another child. I regret that my daughter won’t be a big sister, because I think she’d be great and really love it—she plays an older sister role to the little kids who live in our building and clearly relishes it. She is also an only grandchild on both sides of our family, so I think sometimes she has to be more grown up than she really wants to be because her world outside school is basically adults. On the other hand, she can go to pretty much any college she wants.”
“We're happy as the three of us and neither I nor my husband has a strong desire for more kids. Whenever I've asked my son if he wants a sibling he really doesn't seem to care. I've heard good advice on this from others:
1. Don't have another kid just for your already kid.
2. Remember that there will always be a last baby, even if you have 14 of them. So you'll always be a little sad about that.
3. Having family live nearby makes a huge difference when a second one is around.”
Know when to hold ‘em
“We had IVF twins, so we had 1 and 2 at the same time; we both wanted another but weren’t sure where to put the kid and couldn’t afford another house. We finally decided to try again and it resulted in a blighted ovum/miscarriage, and the third was a bust, so we let it go. Our boys need a lot of academic and developmental help, too, and we live in a pricey area that isn't getting any cheaper. So, since I’m in my early 40s already, we decided that if we roll the dice we might end up with a situation we can’t afford which would also pull resources from what the boys need. And then we started traveling and adventuring with the boys in ways a baby would make difficult. I regret it every day though, even just for a second. My boys would be amazing older brothers.”
“Just saying, sometimes the carefully planned second kid turns out to be twins. It happened to me!”
Siblings = overrated:
“Currently, I think it's a lose lose situation. I typically think only children are selfish but I seriously can't stand my two children. The older child is jealous because the younger one now has an opinion. And the younger one has learned all the shitty behavior of the older one and is an asshole too. My first was amazingly perfect until we had a second. He was an easy pregnancy, an easy baby, toddler, and preschooler. I don't know what turned him into the asshole I live with today, but I know part of it is his jealousy of his baby brother. There is a 5.5 year age difference between them.”
“We had an only for seven years and honestly it was pretty awesome. I wasn't ready to start trying until the first kid was in kindergarten. She really seemed to need our undivided attention, and I really enjoyed just having her. The three of us were a great triad, she even traveled well and was always good at restaurants. Like us, she's bookish and doesn't like sports. Everything was perfect--and then we had a second kid and it was really really hard. A lot harder than the first, and that first really hasn't forgiven us for having more kids. And I can't blame her because the second kid, and the third eight years after that, are LOUD LOUD LOUD. The second one is often angry, the third is relentless. Both of them are terrible travelers and terrible at restaurants. I often think of how easy my life would be if I just had the first. She would be totally fine. I would be insufferably smug, but she would be great.”
“I wish I would have given more thought to what was best for *me* and not what you are supposed to do (i.e. try for a boy, have the perfect 2.5 kids, etc.). I was duped since our first was so easy and I thought I was okay at the parenting stuff. I don't regret that they have each other, because I really love my siblings and wanted the same for my own kids, I just didn't add having a kid with special needs into my consideration equation AT ALL.”
“Since I had twins first, I was never a parent of a single child. But I did want a bigger family and the chance to be a second-time mom, as well as an "easier" singleton pregnancy. Well, JOKE'S ON ME. My singleton is honestly so much more work than my twins, and not just because she was born with special needs. I actually think my parenting style is more suited to the benign neglect of several kids rather than the one-on-one attention of an only, which I discovered when my twins went to school and my littlest was home with me and no one else to play with! But in the end, it's all a crapshoot. A kid is easier or harder, siblings are best friends or can't stand each other... It's just the luck of the draw.”
“I was an only child and as a kid went back and forth between loving it (all of my friends hated their siblings!) and being sad (I had no one to play with and actually not all of my friends hated their siblings, plus I was often alone after my dad died when I was eight). When I had my first kid it took a long time and medical assistance, so I decided I was fine just having one. And yet, as an adult I really, really wish I had siblings now. I went back and forth every five minutes, but had mostly decided not to go through the fertility stuff again. I got surprise accidentally pregnant with my second at 37, and decided to just be zen about the fact that the decision had been made for me. Having two sometimes causes a bunch of logistical chaos that I hate, but my girls LOVE each other. It could have gone either way but I feel like my older one has hugely benefited from it.”
“I’m happy with two because when you hate one child, you’re grateful to have the other, who suddenly seems sweet and perfect.”
Current events • Back to school!
Thanks for reading Evil Witches, a newsletter for people who happen to be mothers. If you have input on today’s newsletter or on anything you can follow us and chat us up here. If you know someone who'd like this sort of thing in their inbox about once a week, please spread the word and encourage your pals to become paying subscribers, who get additional (non-spammy or promo) content and also because they support this work. If you're interested in possibly submitting, have suggestions for topics or want to shoot any general questions just shoot us an email (you can reply right to this newsletter.) You can follow us on Instagram too. If you ever want to dip into our older archives you can find them here, on this weirdly designed page.
This issue is brought to you by gorgeous new school supplies that will look like total shit in two weeks.
One witchy thing
Evil Witches in the news, by which I mean Twitter
Please do consider joining these happy masses!