A common inquiry in “only child” Facebook groups is about where other members are from, as lonely posters hope to make a local connection with the same family dynamic. I know well that it can seem as if every other family out there is a four-or more, as I was once in the same spot. But as my own outlook changed and I began to appreciate the triangle that is our family, not only did I start to see the less positive aspects of “squares,” I also began seeing lots of other triangles. And now, a few years later, some of those triangles fit quite nicely up against our own.
When my son was in preschool, my husband and I were in the middle of a three-year battle with secondary infertility. I tried to water my son’s budding friendships by scheduling time with friends from school, but it seemed every family’s schedule was “just too crazy” (read: filled with activities for ALL their kids) to nail down plans.
Then there were some moms of onlies I had befriended during the kids’ toddler years who had the shared experience of wanting another but not having any luck in that department. Then…surprise! “Guess we’re having another after all!” I wanted to maintain these friendships but found I just couldn’t.
Fast forward to first grade, when school challenges like my son yelling out “This is boring!” every time the teacher passed out a worksheet and then crawling around the floor in a game of “Chase me!” with his weary aide, were resulting in meeting after meeting and less worry over bringing a new addition to our family.
Initial thought: Perhaps we need to focus all our attention on our never-a-dull-moment only.
Catching up on the show Parenthood with some binge-watching, this began to evolve into: I’m kinda loving the Joel, Julia, Sydney family.
Not to mention, suddenly in school, a new one for us that year, my son was making lots of friends (particularly the type who thought his disruptive behaviors in class were simply him being a class clown). And at birthday party after birthday party–at The Cookie Workshop, Bounce U, The Clay Date, Guilford Arts Center, and more—I found myself getting to know some new families. Including some quite content moms of onlies.
And these families, including a triangle unit just around the corner from us, have become some of our closest friends. In most cases, “just one” was not the original plan, but now it’s the only scenario we can imagine. We treasure the closeness we feel with our kiddos, the hugs that need not be shared, the car conversations from front seat to back seat and back again.
Be on the lookout for us, and there are triangle families everywhere–in our friendship circles, at school, at the grocery store, in the movies. It’s the first thing we notice about Riley’s situation in Inside Out and it brings on a smile, and it’s what makes us cry at the end of Monster Trucks when Creech reunites with his parents.
The benefits of our family dynamic mirror those of a deep-stretch triangle pose in yoga: while strengthening the (heart) muscles, the triangle pose is known to be therapeutic for anxiety (particularly the “oh, how are we going to pay for summer camp for all the kids this year!?” sort), and good for improving overall balance and stability. Yes, please. Yes, please. Yes, please.
(image: 20121227: heart made of triangles by John LeMasney via 365sketches.org #creativecommons #design)