Lynn Colliar

An Only has an Only – by Lynn Colliar

Lynn and her daughter Teagan.

I am an only child.
You know… spoiled, horrible, always get my way, indulged… all things I heard while growing up.
(*hint: even the littles hear and remember. Especially when it’s repeated time and time again.)

I actually thought I WAS spoiled and horrible. That it was all about me. To the point that as a “grown up” I became the “all inclusive”… everyone MUST feel part of everything. To the exhaustion of many of my friends.

In groups, when people were talking about their families and asking about siblings it was always the part of the conversation I loathed.
Admitting I was an only. The eye rolling. The assuming that I was, in fact, a spoiled brat who always got her way.

It was like everyone was trying to program me to be that way – so I made sure I was the exact opposite.

I was the best sharer. In fact I gave a girl in my ballet class my ring because she admired it.
I gave Shirley Mullens in Grade 1 my egg salad sandwich because she asked for it. She promptly threw it up.

I try to make sure no one feels left out. But there were many times when I was. All kids are – but for me, it cut deep.

Another side effect… I am a terrible arguer. Growing up I didn’t have anyone to argue with. Sure, my dolls and stuffies, but seriously, they lacked interesting perspective and vocal skills.

We moved a fair bit. It always seemed to happen at the worst time. Grade 1. Halfway through Grade 5. Every time I was launched out into a new world… alone.

My parents had all the faith in the world in me. You’re great. You’re funny. You’ll find friends. But they weren’t there the first day of school after spring break when I had to walk into a Grade 5 class full of kids that had been together for years. All looking and knowing… there’s the only child.

She’s probably a spoiled brat.

I used to cling to friends. Afraid they would leave and I would, once again, be on my own.

I am an only child.

Now I am a mother to an only child.

I used to make myself promises as a kid that I would never, ever, do this to another child. Make them grow up in isolation. Alone.
I look back now and realize I was never alone. I have cousins and great friends that have been by my side since grade school.
I have a tribe.
We tried to have many children. I would have had ten if all the embryos had stuck. But only one stuck.
When she was two, Teagan asked when she would have a little brother or sister. Then again at 2.5… 3… 3.5… 4….
She’s seen many of her friends get siblings and keeps asking when she will get hers.
I don’t tell her she’s an only child. I tell her she’s ours. And she has a tribe. And she will never be alone. So please don’t tell her she’s an only child. She’s not.

note from Jody: this is what #mybackyard is about. I could see Lynn and I having this conversation over wine and triple-0 burgers at white spot.  I didn’t request this reaction,,,,I woke up to it in my inbox. Thank you Lynn! We love your perspective here. Let’s keep these conversations going.

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3 Comments

  • Reply Arlene March 14, 2017 at 8:07 am

    My Son used to ask me when he’d have a little brother to play with too. I was a single mom and told him that I could only afford one child. (probably psychologists would have a hay day about that remark, but honestly I was just frustrated and didn’t know how to answer him) At about age 7, I asked him if he still wanted a brother and he looked at me like I had two heads and told me that he’d changed his mind and he didn’t want one. It felt good to have the pressure lifted.

  • Reply Karin Larsen March 14, 2017 at 9:33 am

    Ha, I have 3 sisters and spent my childhood resenting them and longing to be an only child. My grandmother in Denmark used to knit us all identical sweaters for Christmas. Being #3 in birth order meant I would wear my sweater for a year, grow out of it only to inherit the identical sweater which I would grow out of in a year, only to inherit a third, damned, identical sweater. And don’t get me going about sharing bedrooms.

    • Reply Jody Vance March 14, 2017 at 1:27 pm

      ha!!! I just had a “special outing” with my niece Leyla, who is a “middle” child of three girls. We had mani/pedi and I shopped for clothes that “no one has ever worn before her”. It was a big day! As the little sister of a brother, I had the hand-me-down howick cords and graphic t’s. We all have our story, right Karin? If you would like to write me a little story of youngest of 3, email it to me. We’d love to have your voice on #mybackyard.press.

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