Poetry & Words, Theology

What People Don’t Understand About Having an Only Child

What People Don't Understand About Having an Only Child

Five years ago.  I don’t wish time to stop, because if time had stopped then I wouldn’t have today in all its glorious tumbling mix of beauty and brokenness.

No, I never wish time to stop.

This photo from the past is a femtosecond suspended in space — a single transient moment in time’s flight over us.

We’re in my favorite place on earth, high above the sea overlooking Bodega Bay, and the white-bright sunset is casting slivers of diamonds over us, by the handful. My pants don’t match my shirt, and I’m wearing my brother-in-law’s too-big shoes. She’s set to bolt away and grab fistfuls of sand. The sky is molten. We are hands on a clock, dials on the face of the sun.

And time flies on.

The shadows go round, and round, and round. She’s so little here, my third-grader, and my heart sometimes feels like it will split right down the middle.

See, she’s a miracle, you know, I miracle God granted in defiance of what time’s overly-speedy hands had begun to do to my physical body. And she’s light. Can’t you see it here, the light? True to her name, she’s Alenka, the radiance. When she was born, the nurse learned over the bed and asked, in a voice breaking under the weight of meaning, “What have you come to teach us?”

Strangers, won’t you step down and lift your head and open your eyes? Won’t you see beyond the narrow explanation you’ve created in your own mind?

You ask me why I had no more; I reply: no more arrived.

You ask so often. Do you realize how often you ask?

You never see the sorrow in my reply.

You ask at the line in the grocery store.

You ask at the library.

You ask at homeschool groups. (Oh, especially at homeschool groups.)

We’re dependent on God for so much. The thin tissue of our lungs fills and empties, fills and empties, fills and empties. We breath in oxygen; our organs are fed. We do not owe the function of these inner workings to our own righteousness. Our heartbeats, our respirations, the skin that covers these shells — gifts from the Maker, all.

Don’t count and measure and compare.

We aren’t given equal portions in this life, but we are given enough. We are given our portion. It is my sorrow that my arms cannot hold more; yet it is my joy they can hold the unspeakable gift I’ve been given.

Can you look at this life as liquid gold, with me? As chrysolite and as chalcedony? [1] We all walk sacred ground; there are no ordinary places. [2] We are souls inhabiting bodies; we are magic of the celestial kind.

Look to the Light, my friends, look to the Light and rejoice.


9 thoughts on “What People Don’t Understand About Having an Only Child”

  1. Dear Gina,

    We are blessed by God to live well the lives we are given to enhance the good we can offer and share with loved ones in this life. Sometimes there is one child born to bless a couple. Sometimes there are two or three or more….

    Aveline is a lovely blessing! I am thankful God has blessed you and Josiah with her sweetness and zeal to learn. Each day with her loving parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends are blessings for each of them. Love from Gram A.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Love your love for your life and your child! She is everything. I always tell people I forgot to have children, then, at age 47, I got one in the usual way. The truth is, I planned from about age 16 not to have children because the planet was too crowded already, according to a book I read in high school philosophy class, when I was 16. I went along fine with that until about age 35, when the dreaded clock put its hands around my neck and demanded a baby. Circumstances were wrong, the man was wrong, the time was wrong, until it wasn’t. My son is 18 now and the most empathetic, wise person I’ve ever met. I’ve frequently thought how silly I was to not have understood the joy in babies and children and the adults they become. But, no regrets. If someone ever asks me why I only have one child, I respond by asking them, why they ask.


  3. At the age of 7, I became an only child when my older brother died in an accident. I dreamed of having 3 kids. My husband and I began trying to start our family 2 years into our marriage. After 8 years (filled with prayers and tears), our Joy finally came along. More years passed with no other children. Eventually a complete hysterectomy ended our efforts to have more children. Not what I had planned, but I am so thankful for my only child. It can be frustrating when people seem to question “why just one” or say, “bet she is spoiled”, but I choose to use it as an opportunity to share my story in the hopes that it might encourage others who are struggling with infertility or loss. You never know why someone is an “only”.


  4. One is the gift granted to me by the Father… and His plan was right and perfect but not what I had imagined for myself… I had wanted more.
    But one was the gift that I cherish beyond measure. And it took me far too long to let go of my own expectations to enjoy the glory of the gift.


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