Let me just start off by saying that I know there are some readers who might be offended by what I am about to say…its ok. There are times when to be honest I just don’t feel like being all that nice or politically correct; times when I am just going to shoot straight from the hip. This is one of those times.
I recently was in a discussion where someone told me that when it came to having kids, all you need is love. That to even factor money and whether one can even financially afford to raise a kid never even came into consideration for this person. They also thought it was sad that so many folks (folks like me) let money be a barrier to having more kids.
I must admit I have been stewing on this for several days and just need to bring this to the blog. I will fully own the fact that how I view the decision to have a child is based on the my experiences growing up with parents who most of the time didn’t have two nickels to rub together. It was also further clarified by my choice to have my first child at 19 where I got my own first hand look at how rough life is raising kids when you are worried about essential items like oh say a roof over your heads or food on the table.
Those two major experiences have everything to do with why my kids are almost 14 years apart in age. After elder boy was born and my first marriage crashed and burned, I was determined to make sure if I ever had another kid I wanted to make sure I not only had me together but that I had the means to support any more children. Regular readers have heard how when elder boy was little I worked not one, not two, but at times as many as three jobs to provide for us. There was one point where I was doing jobs, school and trying to raise him…it was hard but the alternative was existing off the meager sum that was given away for welfare back before welfare reform in the early 1990’s. Not fun times.
Professionally aside from a few brief years in the for- profit and corporate sector I have worked with families and individuals in need for most of my career in both Maine and Chicago. Let me tell you poverty looks the same whether it’s in the big city or a rural state. Poor people whether they or Black, White, Latino or whomever share the same traits and the truth is it’s not pretty. Its not pretty living in government housing, granted in Maine it looks bit better than in Chicago but folks still know its subsidized housing. Trying to get your kids basic needs met and not knowing if you can do it allows you to see that all Mamas love and care for their kids and you see the same humanity in that inner city woman that you do in that rural white woman.
Poverty sucks and yes in the ideal world, we would live in a country that is more child and family friendly but we don’t and until change happens the best we can do is if we are of sound mind is to try to make sure that should we bring a kid in the world that we can provide for them.
Daily, I see kids who live with poverty, kids with teeth rotting, kids with ill fitting clothes, many times not wearing warm clothing on a cold winter day. I am sure not all these parents are neglectful, hell I know some of the parents, many times the reason the kids are out there dressed wrong with not enough food in their bellies is because it’s the best the parents can do. I know families that get food stamps or whatever the new name is for them, yet it’s not enough and the last week of the month these families have to hit the food pantry, where you get whatever they have. Sorry, Tommy no milk for you, no fresh fruits and veggies either, since the pantry didn’t have any.
See love does not feed a child, nor does it clothe a child. Love can not provide the enrichment activities that might nurture that child to be the next great. Sadly its cold hard cash, dollars, duckets, deniro, shekels that provide these things. So while it would be lovely to have kids with no regards to your financial situation, is it really fair to the kids?
I know its taken a lot for my brother and I to move past the animosity we had for the way we were raised and compared to much of what I see on a daily basis, we had it easy. At any time my mother could have stopped playing poor with my Dad and gotten help from her comfortably middle class family. Instead my Dad thought it was character building to raise us the way we were raised.
As I tell the Spousal Unit, one of my fantasies is that of having a large family. Hell when I was pregnant with girl child I dreamed of having at least 2 or 3 more. Ha ha ha, we are now done. Between the girl child’s demanding but lovable personality and faced with the fact that in less than a year my son will be a freshman in college and the costs associated with that, I know I don’t have the resources to have more kids. Hell, I am trying to see if my resources even allow for goldfish as a pet!
So for me while love is free, my reality is that kids are not, they do cost and while what they give can never be measured in dollars and cents, the fact is to not look at the costs associated is plain foolish. After all babies can be cheap but just feeding a teenaged boy can send you to the poor house even making everything from scratch but that’s another post.