Silent One wrote an interesting post on second children that made me think about my own situation. I'm an only child and, as far as I can remember, had no problems growing up alone at all. It was a normal situation for me. Because both my parents worked full time, I had a variety of baby sitters and went to nursery school very early and as a result I was quite bubbly and sociable and never shy. I had my parents' undivided attention during evenings and weekends, and I was included whenever their adult friends visited. And of course I had my nursery, primary and secondary school friends too.
I was also very content to be on my own. I had an active imagination and could while away many hours alone in my own world. I loved reading as much as playing, and my mum says today that frequently she would not hear me for hours even if we were in the same house! In short, I think I was a very well-adjusted only child.
It was only as an adult, and no longer cushioned from life by my parents, that I began wondering what it would be like to have a sibling or two to share the ups and downs of life with. I know relationships with siblings are not guaranteed to be smooth nor are many of them that close, but the unspoken bond based on shared history and biology is something I sometimes wish I had for myself now.
M is really close to his siblings. He doesn't see them often, but when they get together their pleasure at seeing one another and their natural, unguarded interaction is a delight to witness.
And my father comes from a large family. Because all his siblings are in India, he sees them extremely infrequently. Years go by. But when they finally see one another, their genetic and social history binds them together in such a way that the fact that years have passed means nothing. Again, it's a joy to watch.
I am extremely close to my parents and so the need for a familial bond is satisfied. Moreover, I am married now and am creating my own family unit with M. But when my parents are no longer here? ... If I didn't have M in my life, if I was truly alone, I wonder how much "existential" loneliness I would feel - perhaps a fair bit...
All this, for some reason, doesn't make me want to necessarily have more than one child. But then again, who knows...