My Family is One and Done


Written by Eran Sudds

I once went to a palm reader when I was in my early twenties. I was single and caught in a job rut. I desperately wanted to know what my future might hold. The woman told me that a new job opportunity was on the horizon, love was “waiting in the wings,” and that my palm showed one child in my future.

I took most of the reading with a grain of salt (because, really, how much more generic could she get?).

Still, I was concerned about one thing: I had always envisioned having two kids.

Was my palm lying? Did she read the wrong hand? Had I not spent enough time earlier in life, clenching my fist and creating more lines? Or was all of it just a bunch of BS anyways?


Maybe not.

Because now that I have that one child, I find myself constantly struggling with the second child debate.

Do I really want to do this all over again and have another one?

I love my son, don’t get me wrong. He is magnificent.

He is goofy and loveable, charming and full of energy. Sometimes I can’t believe we actually created this little human with this huge personality. I would love for him to grow up with a sibling like I did. My sister is my best friend. She is completely irreplaceable and a huge part of my life and well-being. I want my son to have someone like that in his life. But, that’s where my list of “Reasons to Have Another Baby” ends. Seriously. At this point in time, I don’t have another good point on that list.

On the other hand, I have lots of good points listed on “Reasons not to Have Another Baby.” But even just admitting that, I feel like a horrible human being and a disgustingly selfish parent.

Why does it feel so wrong to be “one and done”? Why does everyone I encounter say to me, “Oh, you’ll change your mind,” when I tell them we’re not currently considering having another?

Is it really so awful to have just one kid?

Am I ruining my poor son’s life by not giving him a sibling? Is it as selfish as it seems?

I recently read “One and Only” by Lauren Sandler—who was an only child and is the parent of an only child—to help me understand this decision we are making. On the very first page, I read something that filled me with a monstrous rush of emotions:

“My mother was deeply devoted to raising me. To have a happy kid, she figured she needed to be a happy mother and to be a happy mother, she needed to be a happy person. To do that, she had to preserve her authentic self, which she could not imagine doing with a second child.”

That, my friends, is why I’m stopping at one.

Maybe it’s selfish. Maybe there are ways to preserve my own authentic self after we have a second child, but I just don’t know if I’m cut out for that. I honestly can’t tell you the sense of relief I got from reading those few sentences. Someone finally put into words what I’ve been feeling.

I want to be the best mom I can be for my son, and I know, deep down in my gut, that that means paying attention to my own happiness.

No matter how many times someone tells me “the second one is easier, you’ll see,” I just can’t be convinced that that is what is going to bring me the greatest joy.

I want to travel again, and take my son to see the world. I want to run a thriving business. I want to connect with friends and go out for nights on the town. I want my hormones to be under control. I want to sleep in. I want my body to feel like my own. I want the freedom to take classes and learn new things. I want to have conversations that don’t involve the latest sale on diapers or how to sleep train my kid.

I want my son to see a happy mom, a mom who is in love with her life. I want him to have a mom who inspires him, and is his biggest fan. If that’s selfish, so be it.

I hope that one day, he says otherwise.

About The Author


Mary Katherine is a southerner, born and raised. Growing up in Alabama, she developed an affinity for lightning bugs, sweet tea, playing guitar, and having strong opinions. She's happily married with a son (Nugget) and two fur babies. Fun facts: MK is a living kidney donor, speaks a little Thai, and has written two novels.


  1. I don’t feel bad at all for just having one. I know deep down to my soul, that I would not be happy with more than one child. Knowing this from the beginning, has made it easy for us to cherish every new stage, and enjoy our time raising him. I refuse to let myself feel guilty. I don’t OWE him a sibling. What I do owe him, is a happy healthy mom and dad, to know that he is loved, and to know that it is ok for him to grow up and away from us. I answer him honestly, when he asks why he doesn’t have a sibling, because I do feel that he deserves that. But in the end, I feel what is right for my husband and myself, is what is right for our son. And that choice is ours.
    I must add, that living in a VERY Catholic city, this belief is not shared my many. I have even been told that it is “child abuse” to only have one child. Who are they, to tell me how my family should be??

  2. People are so rude to ask and comment. It’s you’re family, not theirs. My husband and I planned for one child. I had him when I was 40 years old and we had a hard time getting pregnant. From the standpoint of money, age, and medical issues, one child is really going to be all that is possible for us. I’m 43 years old now. Sure, maybe had I met my husband when I was younger and we started having children earlier, I would have liked to have more than one. But that’s not in the cards for us and not a responsible choice to make for our family at this point.

  3. I have two kids, but it always just amazes me that people think they can comment on other people’s choices on the number of children they have. Whether you want 1 or 10 isn’t any of my business, as long as you are doing your best and taking care of them. I see so many children in families with 6, 7 siblings and none of them are well taken care of. So I just can’t imagine giving someone a hard time for loving the one kid they have!

  4. I have 2 children and always wanted 2 (except for a short period when my first was young and in the terrible 2s early! lol). But, after my first one, I had an ectopic pregnancy that changed my world. It also led to a blocked tube which caused seconday infertility and after a a year and a half of trying to conceive with infertility help, we still had no luck. I was devastated to not be able to give my child a sibling, but that was because that’s what I wanted, not because I had to do it. But, the hardest part was when people who didn’t know our story would say things like you have to have a second, or why wouldn’t you have 2–when they had no idea why that was the case. Even when I gave birth to my second one, when the nurse was wheeling me back holding by baby, she said “you have 2 beautiful children, you shouldn’t have waited so long to have another!” and it crushed me–waited?? I desparately tried for almost 2 years and spent a fortune!! People really should learn that there is a personal line that shouldn’t be crossed–it is one thing to say something like this to your best friend, but not ok to a stranger or someone you don’t know well. To each his own–different situations work for different people. For me, I wanted 2 and I wanted the sibling experience for them, and I love watching it now, but that does not mean everyone else has to feel the same as me!! Honestly, I do think a lot of people will change their “one and done” as their kids get older (I did), but I can think that in my head–I don’t have to say it! lol

  5. an issue I deal with EVERYDAY – proud of my one, my own business and my health goals that I can accomplish by being the proud mother to one amazing kid :-). Thanks for sharing!!!!

  6. My son is 12 wks today & unless we have a catastrophic birth control failure he will be our only one. I would like 1 more but my fiance is adamant about being one & done. I would also be nervous about having a 2nd child because everything has gone so incredibly smoothly with my first that I feel like I won’t get that lucky a second time! My pregnancy, birth experience, & breastfeeding journey have all been amazing with no complications so I feel like I should just quit while I’m ahead

  7. It’s such a deeply personal decision and I resent that so many feel the need to weigh in on personal family matters. For you one child is your plan. For me I have been blessed with 3 beautiful children. Each person has their own path and I wish the world could respect our individualism. Thank you for sharing your journey to your decision. I wish we could all bond together instead of letting things like this divide us. I am sorry you have ever felt judged for having only one child. I too feel judged all the same for having more. And no. You are not selfish.

    1. Thank you, so much, for commenting and understanding! It baffles me how anyone feels like they “know” what is the right balance for any family that is not their own. It just shouldn’t matter to anyone else how many kids we choose to have. I know I will be a better mom to my one child, with him as an only child because I, personally, will be happier. But I also know that that is not the case for everyone – I admire mamas who have more than one. They are strong and resilient and so full of love. But then again, I think all mamas are 🙂

  8. Here’s a perspective that I don’t see here. My daughter is a challenging child. She is worth at least 3 or 4 children. For us one and done was for our sake, her sake and any potential sibling’s sake. Had we chosen to have another child, I feel that that child would not have received the love and attention he/she deserved. Since my daughter needs lots of TLC she would have not done as well as she has had she had a sibling. I respect everyone’s choice to have more than one child, people should respect my choice to have only one child.

  9. Love this!! My husband and I always get asked “when will you give your daughter a sibling? Both of you have siblings. She needs one.” We usually answer jokingly, “she has Blaze!” (Our dog!! Haha) But in all seriousness, getting pregnant was a struggle. My pregnancy was a struggle. Her birth was a struggle. It wrecked my body. Now I have a lot of health problems, so I feel like I couldn’t be the best mom to 2 children. I’m 32. Still young enough to have one, but my body feels like an 80 year olds. We love our daughter and want to give all of our attention to her. We just think our family is complete. One and done is ok. It’s what works for us. I bow down to mothers of multiple children. You all are amazing!! I don’t know how you do it!!

  10. It never ceases to amaze me how readily people share their opinions. I had two boys and I would be asked regularly if I was going to “try for a girl”. Then we had a wonderful surprise of a third baby. another boy, and now on a daily basis people ask if I was or are going to try for a girl now, or firmly advise that three kids always leaves one out so I MUST have a fourth! I always wanted three children and I love my household of boys, but I’m so tired of all the unsolicited “advice”!

  11. There is nothing wrong with only wanting one child… That said, it is what she wants now, but maybe she will change her mind later, not because of any official ” reason” but because she will genuinely, personally, want another child.

  12. I have two and am planning a third. But that’s because we don’t feel done. If your done you’re done. It doesn’t matter what the number. Only you and your partner/husband knows what’s right for your family. No one else. It’s also your right to change your mind as often or as little as you want.
    Is it fair to your son? There are pros and cons to both. I was a third child and there were some years between me and my other siblings. I think I got the best of both worlds. I had siblings at home while I was young and got to enjoy that but as they got older and didn’t want to go on weekend away with the family or when they moved out I got to experience a taste of being an only child…. And I loved that too whats not fair to your son is having another child out f expectation and then brig a miserable parent. Trust your gut and your heart and forget the rest. X

  13. Omg…you are me! Your article is exactly. EXACTLY how I feel. Thank you so much. I’m a one and doner and I have never felt more understood! Thanks you.

  14. My daughter just turned one and I’m definitely feeling a lot of this as people ask if we are going to start trying for another one. I hadn’t really been able to put the way I feel into words until I just read this.Thank you for your honesty. The quote about us needing to preserve our authentic selves really touched me. Although it has been a challenge, I feel like I am doing a pretty good job of preserving my authentic self with one child but, I agree, I think having two would overwhelm me to the point that my authentic self would start to dismantle.

    We don’t all have to conform to the two-children stereotype to be happy families with healthy, happy children.

    Katie W.

  15. Thanks so much for sharing this, Eran. We seem to be “one and done” involuntarily, and it’s so very helpful to read about the empowerment of one child as opposed to what often feels like “less than.” Thank you thank you thank you!

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