personal stories

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You may have seen the Motherlode post written by an unhappy only child this week in the New York Times. It’s fairly typical of its ilk: my mother wanted more children, and I wanted siblings, and therefore an only childhood is a miserable thing.  The only data points the author offers are on the rising number of only children in America.  According to her anecdotal experience, this is a terrible thing.

Perhaps without knowing it, the author–a public relations specialist and essayist–reveals what may be the two surest ways to lay the groundwork for unhappy onliness.  It starts a generation earlier than you’d think, with our parents’ longing. She writes: ”For my parents, having an only child was not a …

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There was a plaid wool blanket in my parents’ car, just big enough to cover me when I would stretch out across the backseat. During snowy Massachusetts weather, I would wrap it around me, cocoon-like, and lean forward to wedge myself between the front seats where my parents sat, making plans, cracking jokes, or listening to the hum of “Weekend Edition.”  Summertime meant I would ball it into a pillow, and prop my head on it to re-read every book in the Anne of Green Gables series, inhaling the permanent rubbery smell of our boxy blue Jetta.  These days, my daughter sleeps under it when she stays in their apartment; I am always amazed at how small it is, and …