After having me, my mother had a series of ectopic pregnancies, which sadly made her unable to have more children. So I grew up as an only child (although according to my dad, I counted for ten). I’ve often been asked if I ever missed having siblings. Truth is, that as an only child, you simply don’t know any different. I had a very happy childhood, without ever realising I was missing out on being part of a big family. I was always welcome to bring friends over to our house, and had loads of cousins to play with and share vacations with. I have fond memories of the many craft projects I did with my mum, and my dad often took me to work with him (he was a country vet).

I always wanted to be a mum, and I always thought I would have at least three children. And now I have four! It’s wonderful to see the interaction between those four. There is already so much love and support between them… Sara and Pim are so fond of their little siblings — and vice versa. Even though I know that only children enjoy equally happy childhoods as children from bigger families (and score higher in measures of intelligence and achievement!), I must say I love seeing what it is like to have siblings.

Of course, having (more) children isn’t always an option. We have plenty of friends with no children, or ‘only’ one child because of their age, infertility problems, divorce, etc. Or simple because they want to, of course!
There are cons and pros for smaller or bigger families. Are you from a bigger family, or from a small one? And how many children do you have, if you have any at all?

xxx Esther

PS All photos are by Sue Cowell. Find more of her photos here and here.


Comments (26)

November 7, 2012

Beautiful photos!!! I do think that one of the good things about life is that, whatever family setup one has, there are big advantages and disadvantages and different setups are right for different families.
Not having kids does give people a distinct freedom. Having one kid means being able to give that kid a lot more one on one attention. Having four kids is fabulous because it means a lot of action, positive chaos and sibling support.
I personally find my little family of two girls and I ideal. Even though I had always imagined I would have a son, I could not imagine a different set up now.

Courtney in London
November 7, 2012

These are such beautiful photos! How lucky that you have them, to capture that special time with baby Casper.
And, as you know, I am one of five children and LOVE being from a big family and having so many siblings. I think it really is the best gift you can give your children, to give them a sibling. So many life lessons they learn from having siblings.
But of course it is chaotic, and it does mean that you simply can’t give each child as much attention as you could have if they were an only child. But sometimes I think that the ‘lack’ of attention is a good thing for kids. And that, of course, the love and attention they get from their siblings makes up for it!

November 7, 2012

I have a sister and she is my best friend, we’re so close that I can’t imagine a life without her. I have also so many cousins and I love them like my siblings.
Usually, only children are more selfish because they aren’t used to share, but, of course, it depends of the education given from their parents.

Esther in Amsterdam
November 9, 2012

Hi Marta, to the defence of all only children in the world: I actually think they are typically better in sharing, because they never have to fight for their toys with their siblings, and there’s no competitiveness in their surroundings… 🙂 xxx

November 7, 2012

I’m one of three and always thought I’d have 3 myself. But my husband is one of two and equally adamant that two is the perfect number. We’ve got one so far, Finn, so we’ll just have to wait and see who wins out!!

Beautiful photos and kids. Lucky you!


Esther in Amsterdam
November 9, 2012

Ha! Keep us posted! 😉 xxx

November 7, 2012

What a great post with beautiful pictures and on such an interesting topic. I am an only child and I often felt a little bit lonely because of that. All my cousins live in India, so I rarely got to see them and my german family is very small with no cousins around. Of course I had friends and I sort of adopted the boy next door as my brother and we are still close but it just isn´t the same as a real sibling.
I have a son and a daughter now and even though they are 5.5 years apart, they have a beautiful relationship and I am so glad that they have each other.

Emilie in London
November 7, 2012

What beautiful photos!!! how do you manage to get them all at once! We have to use photoshop to pretend we have 3 good looking kids on the same pics! I am one of 4, having 3 younger brothers, my mum is the last one of 9 and my dad the 4th one of 6, so I have 35 direct cousins who now have 36 kids themsleves. My grand-mother organised her 90th birthday last year and we were 90, just from what she created.
I LOVE big families, I have 3 kids, but we decided to stop there because we still wanted to have the freedom to travel and enjoy things and it becomes more difficult on the oganisation side + finance with 4. But for sure if I was in my french country side, I would probably have 4 🙂 You are a lucky mum Esther ! Enjoy having a newborn, that is what I miss the most, and always will!

Esther in Amsterdam
November 9, 2012

It is true that with 4 children, traveling gets more tricky! xxx

November 8, 2012

We now only have one little girl. I’ve always thought we’d have at least three, but changed my mind to two after having her (I was pretty exhausted for a while :)). Apparently someone doesn’t quite agree with me, because I am right this moment carrying two little beating hearts beside my own. After totally freaking out when we learnt we were having twins, I am now (still worried to death, but also) quite content that I get to have the three kids, minus the years of waiting and spacing them and we’ll be able to pick up our “normal” life in a couple of years. IF we survive the first year, that is. 🙂

Esther in Amsterdam
November 8, 2012

Oh, congrats Mo!! That is amazing! I think twins are just so special. I’m sure you’ll survive, and I’m sure it will be so, so wonderful! xxxxx

November 8, 2012

So so sweet! I am so glad that I have my 2 girls and that they are such good friends. I admire you for 4 but I’m not sure I could do it. I’ve been looking after 3 extra children this week, for a friend who has 4, it’s fun but so hectic! Lovely photos of them all. xxx

November 8, 2012

Dear Esther. We have again something in common ( not only the same date of birthday of our son’s ) my mother also was unable to have more children, after me, so I grew up as an only child . I have now two boys and I feel really busy and just can’t imagine my life with more kids. 😉 The love children give each other is amazing. I’m happy I gave my son’s something I did not have.

November 8, 2012

Such gorgeous gorgeous pictures Esther! I have tears of joy looking at them. I am also an only child and asked Father Christmas for a brother or sister every year – the letters must have broken my parents hearts as my mum to cold not ave children after me. I had a very happy childhood and am very very close to my parents (my husband – one of three- can not believe how interested my parents are in the minutiae of my life!) but I have to say I really miss having siblings now in adulthood, especially as our own parents get older. As you know I have 3 (you guts are making me broody or number 4 already!!!) and one of the things I am most proud of when I look at my kids is their relationships with each other. I’m so happy they have each other to fall back on when tobi and I have gone a bit crackers!

November 8, 2012

Beautiful pictures and beautiful children you can see the love they have for their baby brother in their eyes. I think that is my favorite part of having two children is to watch their love for each other. The other day we went to story time at the library, each of the older children were given two maracas. Henrik noticed that Maja didn’t have one and without hesitation gave her his other maraca. Watching this interaction melted my heart.
I am the youngest of five and I really enjoyed having so many siblings before me, learning what to do and not to do. They were always so protective of me, I kew they wanted the very best for me.

Esther in Amsterdam
November 9, 2012

That is so sweet and considerate… xxx

November 9, 2012

Congratulations, what a lovely family you have!
I too was (am!) an only child but with a single mum and as you said growing up you don’t know any different to what you have. My mother did an extraordinary job raising me alone and I had a lovely childhood with many happy memories and we are still very close. But as I grew up I recognised I wanted children, lots of children and for them to have a father that would be around for them, and me!
I have been fortunate enough to find that guy and we had a beautiful boy six years ago. I desperately wanted siblings for him as did my husband who is the oldest of four but after three years of trying we were starting to think that wouldn’t happen. Thanks to IVF it did and we have another beautiful boy who is now 18 months old.
Watching their relationship grow and the unconditional love they have for each other is wonderful and at times I am secretly jealous! After 39 years it only dawned on my recently that as a child I grew up in a house with no other children, I’d never really thought about it, so now having that noise and laughter and mayhem.. it’s so lovely.
And just when I was thinking what a miracle it was that we had our second child, just quietly, I found out last week there is another growing in my tummy..!
Enjoy your big happy family!

Esther in Amsterdam
November 9, 2012

Oh Kate, how wonderful… I have tears in my eyes! Congratulations!!! xxxx

November 9, 2012

Congratulations Esther. What a beautiful family, I have always wanted 4 children! I have 3 boys right now and am trying to convince my husband we should have another:). I love a big family, my husband comes from a family with 5 kids and we have so much fun together when we all get together. I want that for my kids as well. Enjoy that sweet baby boy, I love and miss that newborn stage so much!

November 10, 2012

Congratulations on you lovely family. I have 2 beautiful, smart girls myself. We have been trying to have a 3rd baby for 2 years now, and I think we will have to just give up. At almost 40, with already 2 girls at home, we need to keep going with our life. May be travel more than we would have done with 3 kids. Both my husband and I being from family of 3 kids, we always thought it would be the same for our girls. Siblings are not necessarily best friends, there is lots of arguments and disagreements, but siblings are always there looking out for us in good times and in bad times.

November 11, 2012

Wow Esther, what a beautiful boy and equally beautiful siblings he has! Love the knitted romper 🙂
I have a sister and although I loved just having one sister, I always thought when I was younger that I would like 4 kids (2 boys 2 girls – like you can pick haha!)
Now that I’m older I not as keen due to finances and time, but my partner has 2 little girls from a previous relationship, so we may end up with 4 in the end anyhow 🙂
Lovely post,
Sally xx

Nardy Winters
November 12, 2012

Gefeliciteerd Esther!!! Wow wat mooi!!! Hoop je snel weer te zien @craft night. X Nardy

November 15, 2012

Esther, he is the most beautiful addition to your already beautiful bunch. What sweet pictures! He looks so calm, safe and snug in the arms of his beaming brothers and sisters.

I have one older brother whom I love dearly but always wished that I could have a sister, too. I was so envious of my girlfriends that have such close bonds with their sisters. My husband is one of two children in his family. We have a little boy. We are hoping to add another to the mix sometime, sooner rather than later for me, later rather than sooner for my husband. We will see!

Anh Farrell
November 15, 2012

I have 3 children, 2 girls, one boy (ages 5, 3 and 18 months) and considering baby number 4. Just found this blog and is pleased to see that there are people out there who have things in common with me. Lovely photos. I am the eldest child of four, my husband is the middle child and only son of 3. He hopes that my son will have a brother because her never did have one. I am a little reluctant to have another baby so soon, I am rather exhausted looking after the kids, running a business and a home. I would like to know how others cope with having larger families. Life is not the same as it was for our mothers ( or particularly my mother). I have a sister and 2 brothers, my sister helps me as much as she can. Do you have much help? Hands on husbands/nannies/parents? Xxxx

November 8, 2013

[…] — Ava is looking forward to it! Do your children share rooms? Did you, as a child? (I’m an only child, so I always had my own […]

August 22, 2017

[…] PS: You might like to read How to reassure soon-to-be siblings with a simple video, and this post about siblings and how many children you would like to have. […]

Leave a Comment