The Cost of Children

I’ve read so many articles about the incurred expense of children, but the focus is on things like formula and diapers, upgrading the family sedan to a house-on-wheels, and the soaring cost of college tuition. Well, let’s just be honest here: some of our nation’s youth just ain’t goin’ to college. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing; their parents can retire earlier.

Some costs that seem to have gone unnoticed (or purposely ignored?) are items like our sanity, our social lives, our waistline, and various personal affects that would not come under scrutiny if they weren’t subjected to Toddler Hands. So today I would like to discuss the real cost of having children:

1. I opted to nurse my daughter. Initially this seemed like a great idea. 4 months after the fact? Not so much. I love it for its convenience, ease, and health benefits to both of us. I believe I bonded just as well with my son and a bottle as I have with my daughter and my boob, and most health benefits also come in a can these days, so I’m not sure the convenience part outweighs the reality that some (…my own mother…) avoid holding her because she cries. The obvious implication here is that she cries BECAUSE she’s a breastfed baby, not because she’s just a baby. Idiocy to you and I; mere rationalization to others.

2. Piggybacking off of the whole nursing thing is my social life. Where, oh where, has my social life gone? That’s what I’m talking about right there–that came out in a nursery rhyme sing-songy voice. What the hell is wrong with me? I’m 30 years old, so I’m not stupid enough to believe I would still be a welcome fixture at dance clubs or even some bars. Nor am I irresponsible enough to want to spend the majority of my time there. When I say social life, I am simply referring to the opportunity to be with people my height with whom I can have conversations that do not include topics such as Lucky Charms cereal, episodes of Thomas the Train, or the possibility of soiling one’s self, which ultimately leads to the sniff-the-butt-crack-check. All I want is a few hours to myself to draft my fantasy football team, see a movie with a friend, or go to dinner (preferably alone) at a nice restaurant that frowns upon or even forbids bringing children. Is that too much to ask???? According to my husband, yes. If you ask him, our daughter cannot be away from me any longer than 2-3 hours. That right there is why he is not invited to dinner.

3. With no social life, you would think I’d be saving some serious cash. Nope. Not the case. In fact, I have been FORCED to spend money on things that I don’t even want to buy. For instance, at this time last year, I found myself going 70 mph on Rt. 28 only to burst through the doors of Best Buy with tears streaming down my face, screaming, “He ruined my laptop!” He refers to my then-1-year-old son. We were enjoying a nice breakfast, and the next thing I knew, my laptop was bathing in orange juice. I lost my ever loving mind, jumping all around the house to find a flash drive in an effort to save the important stuff: everything I needed for work, family pictures, legal documents–you know, important stuff. I walked out of Best Buy $1,000 poorer and with a laptop that, under different not-so-dire circumstances, I probably would have left on the shelf. Never mind the fact that it was my dumb fault for hoisting my computer onto the breakfast table in the first place. But that’s just it: I’m suddenly a moron.

4. I’ve read about and talked with other moms about something called “baby brain.” In short, it goes something like this: When pregnant, brain cells go to the baby. As a result, pregnancy = dumb. When the baby is born, sleep deprivation and paranoia heighten baby brain and, as a result, infant = even dumber. Now, not all moms fall victim to this unfortunate series of events. But I did. I’m a real idiot these days. I can never find my keys, I forget my kids’ appointments (thank GOD for the day before reminder call from the doctor’s office!), and I look a hot mess every day. My husband must come home from work, take one look at me, and want to run for his life. But instead, he enters the homestead, helps me look for my keys, and then ignores me as I talk about my day. I guess even the love of my life can’t stand to hear my incoherent grumblings any more. Sigh.

5. I think I could get used to walking around brainless if I looked better. I used to have abs. I mean, I had nice abs. And I needed them to offset the jiggly-ness of my thighs and the robustness of my ass. Those abs are gone. My waist is no longer a waist, but a lump that sits on my fat hips and makes me want to cry when I bend over and see all the excess skin dangling there, mocking me. Some women are like, “Stretched out, dangly skin is a beautiful thing–that belly carried a baby.” Other women are like, “Would you please shut the hell up.” I want my abs back. I know it’s possible with a little cardiovascular exercise, but I’ll be damned if I can muster up the energy or time to work out. We have a fitness center in our basement, why don’t I use it? Because if and when I have the opportunity to run or spin or partake in another activity that I would normally reserve as a reaction to being chased by a rabid dog, I would rather sleep. I haven’t slept an entire night since the middle of my pregnancy, so we’re going on 8 months. Our daughter is the worst sleeper on the planet, so I’m up every night, on average, every 2-3 hours. I’m tired, people. I have bags under my eyes and my hair is falling out. My skin is sallow, my attitude is bad, and some days, I’m so out of it I forget to brush my teeth. So no, I don’t have time to work out right now. Please do not read this and think you have to fix me. I do not want an invitation to work out with you in your living room while our kids play together. “It’s, like, killing two birds with one stone!” If you come to my door waving your Jillian Michaels DVD around, I will punch you in the throat.

In sum, these costs are way more substantial than the monetary expense associated with having and rearing children. I’m not complaining (…..) about them, I am simply stating facts. I have been working on my Masters degree for almost 4 years, but I keep having babies and now that degree is on the back burner. I only need 3 more classes, I can do it, but just the thought of adding one more thing to my proverbial plate makes me want to stab myself in the eye with a rusty spoon.

Suffice it to say: I’m losing it. All of it. Between $300 vet visits for the dog who has allergies and now requires special medicine (are you freaking kidding me?!), the need to wear a bra 24/7 unless I want to enter an impromptu wet t-shirt contest, my inability to accomplish everything (anything, really) in a short span of 24 hours, and the sad fact that my physical appearance and continued education will probably never be a priority again, I am withering away. The only thing that keeps me going some days is that morning cup of coffee. And my coffee machine just broke, so I think that’s God’s way of saying wine at 7 am is A-OK with Him.*


*Disclaimer: the above rant is but an exaggerated form of expression. I love my life and my children, yet find comfort via a written outlet. Plus, it’s fun. If you’re going to call CYS on me, at least let me know so I can clean up before they get here.

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