To the Parents of “Just One”

The topic that I am embarking upon today is a hard one for me, but I felt the nudging of the Lord to share what I have been through.

Certainly I’m not alone or the only momma who homeschools “just one” child.  And I suppose this post is not for the “just ones” but, perhaps, for everyone.

Shortly after our oldest son, Ethan, passed away in 2010, we moved to another state (we are military) and had to start over again.  To be exact, we moved 7 weeks after he passed. And then we moved again 8 months after that to a new state and duty station.

The ever popular question amongst homeschool mommas, or any group of mommas really:  How many children do you have?    Not wanting to experience the questions of how many kids, etc… almost kept me from meeting new people.

In the homeschooling community, it is not uncommon to see mommas with at least three or more children.  I think this is wonderful, because as the Lord said in His word, children are a blessing!

Perhaps it’s just me being extra sensitive, but at times I feel inadequate as a momma because I have “just one child” as some people say without thinking.  And I know that almost every single momma doesn’t mean it in the way I take it, which is sometimes negatively – that having just one child is strange, and why don’t you have more? Yes.  I’ve said that in my own head.  I’ve cried.  But it’s I who interpreted it negatively.

When you think about it, it’s very easy within the homeschooling arena to get hung up on kids and having a lot of them.  Dozens upon dozens of books are written to “large families” and “how to manage a large household” and such.  Even in the blogging arena, many blogs are for those of large families.  When we are exposed to this over and over again, it’s no wonder sometimes the “just ones” are the weird ones.

We’ve been trying for over a year now to have another baby.  Each month brings much sadness.  However, the other day I really stopped to think about the gift of having two beautiful, healthy boys.  Though one of my sons is no longer here with us on earth, he is with Jesus.  And my other wonderful and funny and awesome son that is still with us – I have come to appreciate him more and more.

Sometimes we need to stop and remember what God has given us.  We are adequate as mommas even if we have “just one” child.  Please don’t limit yourself on homeschool activities because you feel awkward or different.  You are loved and wanted in the group – and if you are not, then the Lord will lead you elsewhere.  This is something I have had to overcome and need to remember and apply to my own life.

Today, would you challenge yourself to be careful what you say to others?  We never know another person’s situation, and it’s awfully easy to judge a book by its cover, when we haven’t a clue what the contents are within its covers.

He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life:  but he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction.  Proverbs 13:3 (KJV)

Are we destroying ourselves by opening up our mouths too quickly or too often?  Are we being good listeners?  When we are in a group setting, are we really listening to the new mother, father, and/or child we are meeting – internalizing their name – or are we just hearing what we want so we can talk more about ourselves?  Convicting indeed.

Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.  Philippians 2:3 (KJV)

And on the contrary, let’s also make sure that we are not asking inappropriate questions of the larger families, such as:  Will you have more (children)?  Do you believe in birth control?  Isn’t it expensive?

Let’s see one another for who we are, brothers and sisters in Christ.  It’s not about the size of the family, but that rather, we are all children of God.

In Christ,

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  1. says

    Oh, bless your heart. I was just writing something related to this. I think I’ll link here. Every child is a complete blessing! “Just one” is all Abraham and Sarah had, too! :-)

  2. says

    I am one of the ” just one” moms. We wanted more but we were blessed with our one. It is sometimes strange in homeschooling arenas like you said because so many come with large families. I think we put our own pressure on ourselves a lot too though. I think we are more sensitive to it and that mom’s with large families don’t really see us differently. I hope so anyway.

    • says

      Kim, I do agree that we put the pressure on ourselves. I have looked back on several situations where I felt so out of place, when in fact it was probably more so self-induced. Yes, I too hope and pray mothers of larger families don’t see (and judge) us differently. :) Thank you for your comment! God bless!

  3. Dorrae Humphrey says

    Thank you for this post this morning. I find it diffucult in everyday life with having just one child. I am thankful for the one child I was given. It does bother me when larger families refer to us as ONLY HAVING ONE. To me is about the time and love you put into that one child. I have prayed for more children but I accept and am thankful that I have what I have.

    • says

      Dorrae, big hugs. :) In all honesty, I have also found life harder having “only one” child than when we had two here on earth. I think what others my not understand is that when you have any “only,” they need more of your time and attention–which is, of course, totally fine. It has made it challenging for me because my son doesn’t have his brother anymore (which that is a totally different topic–grief), and I am literally his earthly everything from 7AM-5PM until Daddy is home from work. It’s exhausting! But, in my selfishness, I am reminded, SO worth it!

      I’m so grateful you shared your heart today…much love!

  4. Pam says

    Very valuable post for everyone. If the reader has one, it is encouraging. If she has more children, it reminds her to be sensitive to those of us who don’t. I never know when one homeschool mom, who has claimed that I am one of her closest friends for years, will remind me that I “only” have one. She knows how I feel about this, but does it anyway. I don’t spend much time around her anymore b/c of this type of thing.

    • says

      Pam–Thank you! I tried to be fair, balanced, and honor the Lord (it’s hard, sometimes). :)

      Sometimes we have to part from friendships were we repeatedly are hurt over and over again…even after we’ve been honest about our feelings.

  5. says

    I completely relate and blog about your very sentiments. As moms of one we can be made to feel as if our lives or roles are somehow on hold while we wait for more children. But, Gods plans are perfect in size and timing and His plans are always complete and perfect!

    • says

      TP–Thank you for your kind words. :) Yes, I have even made myself feel that way…that my life is on hold while I wait for another blessing. I’m trying to move beyond that and focus on what I have, because that’s aht honors the Lord; and it also makes our hearts more content. :)

  6. says

    Another beautiful post, Shannon! Even though I have many, I’ve always been sensitive to this subject. I was a part of a group who always asked how many kids you had as the staple intro for new members. As the moms of one and two routinely said, “I have *just*….”, I began to sense that they were feeling discouraged by our constant “child count”. I finally asked one of my dear friends, with one child, if that bothered her. She admitted that it did. I’m thankful my current group does not do this. We generally ask how long someone has been homeschooling…and let the rest fall into place as we build relationships!

    Anyway, appreciate your heart and the grace with which you’ve expressed it! Blessings!

    • says

      Hi Candace! Thank you so much for stopping by and leaving kind words of encouragement. :) Thank you for taking the time to stop and think of us with “just one,” because often times we can feel out of place in the homeschooling arena. I can’t wait to meet you one day!

  7. Becky W says

    Thank you so much for this post. I am in the process of adopting a little boy who I have fostered since he was a tiny baby and I already know that I will be home educating him. We will not only be a family of ‘just one’ child, but also ‘just one’ parent. It was so encouraging to read your words as we start out on our journey together.

  8. says

    Shannon awesome job writing this thought proving and moving post! So we live in a strange area for homeschooling. Most of the parents in our home school group have one or two children. The founder has one child and writes a magazine called secular homeschooling. Kind of strange in a place (homeschooling) that you think most would be Christians. So I am the odd ball and get some pretty crazy looks when I say I have six kids OK sometimes the looks are downright mean. Strange how living in a progressive city can really change things. I know your hearts desire is to add to your family and you are an excellent mommy to both your boys. Thank you for this thought provoking post.

  9. says

    I am a mom of “only one” here on earth. We miscarried our first child and have never been able to conceive before or since that one pregnancy (in 18 years of marriage). We adopted our son at birth, and now homeschool. We have joined a co-op for the first time, and am wading through these questions. In fact, today, 2 different moms asked WHEN I was going to “have” another baby. As if it is always the easiest thing in the world. When for us, it hasn’t.

    Thanks so much for this post. It was an encouragement to me today!!

    • says

      Jennifer, my heart is heavy for you. I am so thankful that you have your son! What a blessing to be able to be the godly parents he needs here on this earth!

      I truly hope, and not for popularity reasons, that my post gets passed around in the homeschooling community. Indeed, conceiving is not easy for everyone, and I do think that some people (who may have an easier time getting pregnant than others) forget that others struggle with fertility. We as humans are guilty of taking for granted what may come easy to us, and not think before we speak.

      Thank you for opening up your heart today!

  10. Christine says

    We lost our first child – a boy- when I was 29 weeks pregnant. He died only seconds after he was delivered by emergency c-section, so I completely understand the feelings you described. Our second son was born 18 months later, and he is the biggest blessing! Thanks for sharing!

    • says

      Christine…big hugs. :) Yes, that second born son is a blessing, isn’t he?!?! Today I was just talking out loud to God and thanking Him for our son Evan (and of course I am thankful for Ethan too), and how Evan literally keeps me going. Without the love of Christ, my husband, and my other son, I’m not sure I would have made it this far in the grief journey. Blessings to you, dear one!

  11. says

    I am also a “just one” homeschooling momma. I lost my twin girls two years ago. A lot of people I interact with do not homeschool so they say things like “Oh you just have the one” like that is why I can manage it. My decision to home school didn’t come until after I lost my daughters and my son was getting closer to kindergarten. Maybe my choice would have been different, but no one ever knows what someone is going through. Thank you for your honesty.

    • says

      Kim…my heart is saddened by the loss of your baby girls.

      Unfortunately, people too often speak before thinking clearly (myself included in this). It’s not any easier, as you well know, having “just one” child and that’s why we have “SO” much time to do things (because we truly don’t have any more time than anyone else). I can understand your wanting to homeschool after losing your girls. The loss of a child brings the reality even more so to the bereaved parents that time is truly precious, and we get to have them here with us for such a brief time–and then they are grown up. Hugs!

  12. says

    We homeschool a “just one” also, and we are often asked why we only have one, it makes us even ‘weirder’ when we say it was a choice (as if choosing to raise one child is less of a blessing than raising 2 or more). Interestingly enough, I’m often relieved that we did choose to have ‘just one’ because God knows this momma couldn’t handle the responsibility to guide more than one on a spiritual path. I’m in awe of the parents of multiple children who take on that responsibility because it is the most important thing we ever model and teach our children – way more important than math or science or reading.

  13. katy says

    I have three and I even get asked “when are you having more?” or “Why dont you want anymore?” I guess by some standards we are considered large or small but for us its just right. Before my daughter was born my husband and I agreed that she would be our last. We picked out her name when I was around 7 months pregnant. We named her Emma. The day I had her I felt instantly that our family was complete. Only later did I look up the meaning of her name. Emma: whole, or complete. I have never regretted the decision not to have anymore.

  14. says

    As a mom to 5 boys (including twins), I understand how you feel (but on the other end). What I’ve learned the most through the process of having a bunch of boys is 1. it doesn’t matter what other people think 2. i will never make a comment again to people on their family size / dynamics. This can be a sensitive subject for many reasons… including children that may have died, adoption, infertility, etc. The perfect family is your own family.

  15. says

    I’m schooling ‘just one’ (oldest is in college & middle child is in heaven) and although we are definitely not the norm in our homeschool group & community…I try to embrace our individuality & see all the advantages. (I was an only child myself)
    Got to find the rainbow & we are too blessed to be stressed! 😉

  16. Erica says

    Beautifully written! We women do tend to judge/speak without thinking. For parents of one or two you’ll feel like an outsider around larger fmailies. For those of us with 6 or more you feel like an outsider for having so many. You can NEVER win in this world. Thank God that we aren’t trying to win in this world, but instead are looking forward to eternity.

    Regardless of having one, two, six, ten, or twenty. They are ALL blessings that God has given us. And we each have our own path to walk. Walk it with your head held high knowing that God DOES know what He is doing. There is a reason & purpose for where you are in life, just as for the size of your family.

    And hang in there while you are trying to have more. After our first 3 boys were born I had 3 miscarriages…and was told I would never be able to carry to term without a major surgery. I opted to forego that surgery. And surprise of surprises 8 years later I was blessed with a healthy full term pregnancy, shortly followed by another & another. 3 in 3 years! Just remember that God IS in control. and rest in the knowledge that He is holding you lovingly in His hands. The rest will fall in place when it’s time.

    Blessings to you!


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