My friend, Jack (whose wife NEVER updates their blog (thought I'd get a guilt trip in there while I'm blogging--multitasking!)) sent me a really good article from the Washington Post. Yes, my friends, it has come to other people having to keep me up-to-date on what's going on in the world. How sad, but so, so true. I'm bad about current events. The article was funny because it addressed the idea of having the third child.
Given that I have been raised LDS, three kids never seemed like much to me. Not that I, myself, was raised in a big family (I have multiple step and half siblings, but never lived with any of them). However, going to church and associating with friends, big families were the typical thing--I was the anomaly. I also have never discussed the ultimate size of the family my husband and I want to end with. Since I was raised as an only child, I figured it'd be better to take it one at a time and see how my sanity was holding up.
In the article which you can access here, the author talks about how she too is expecting her third kid. Apprently, NYC is not accustomed to seeing people who can afford to raise three children. She sites the Dept. of Agriculture as saying that the average child costs $204,060 to raise to the age of 18. I have to digress again and wonder why they didn't round out that $60? Was that the Disney movies you had to buy or the popcorn at the theater you knew was too expensive, but bought anyway?
She goes on to poke a bit of fun at how we think of children nowadays and I had to think that some of it rang true:
For a couple's every conceivable wish or worry, the parenting industry knows the precise formula of guilt, fear, hope, love and desire that will empty the parental wallet. Rather than fret about spending too much money, most parents these days are consumed by the anxiety of underspending -- the fear that somewhere, some other parent is offering her baby an educational toy or child-development class that will propel the toddler ahead, and that if you skimp, your child risks losing out and falling behind.
Isn't it true that we're feeling the stress to keep our kids in the game of life? I know that getting into college is getting trickier and trickier and good grades are nowhere near going to be enough to get a child in. My mom enrolled me in a few summer activities a couple of different summers, but my family was in no way hypervigilant at pushing any one activity in hopes of leading to my college success.
However, don't we parents worry now when we think that somehow we are letting our children fall behind the "average" or "accelerated" curve? It's funny because most of us realize that if we want little Tommy to play basketball in high school, he had better start by age 4 or he'll never even have the skills to make it on the middle school "A" team.
I'm definitely digressing from the point of the article. I just thought it was absolutely outrageous when she cited the following statistic for NYC:
Once a new mom's maternity leave (if she's lucky enough to get it) is up, a nanny or quality day care is in order. In upscale urban areas and tony suburban enclaves, where luxury families are flourishing, that can translate to $800 a week for child care alone. So-called high-end nannies -- those who hail from licensed agencies and come equipped with working papers and even driver's licenses -- can cost more than $50,000 a year on the books. And to think, some deluxe families hire two. After all, how can one nanny juggle a set of twin infants and a 3-year-old, or ferry three kids under 6 to their various play dates, preschool programs and lessons?
$800 a week for child care??? That's $3,200 a month folks. I just can't imagine expending that much money for child care. The most ironic thing of all is that these families don't consider the mother staying home. It's not even on the radar. Instead, the effort is expended in finding the best nanny. I just don't get it.
And, you're not going to believe this:
Today's American children, by contrast, get an average of 70 new toys a year, yet child development experts agree that the best toys are simple playthings such as blocks, balls and figurines that a child can play with over and over, in new ways. When I was growing up, a sticker was something precious that a stationery store owner would carefully cut off a roll and sell for 25 cents. Today, a made-in-China jumbo book of 600 stickers can be bought at CVS for $6.99. Something has been lost in this ostensibly positive development.
Wow! 70 new toys a year? Think of the cost of that alone. She also cites how these parents put their children in private school and private lessons for sports and how all of that adds up. Well, no wonder they consider three children a sign of wealth and elitism. If I felt the need to buy all of those things for my child, I'd probably never even have one.
I love how she ends it though:
As for my husband and me, we hardly have unlimited resources, but we're still planning to go forth and multiply in the big city. The way we figure it, one day our children will be grateful for what we didn't give them -- and what we did for them instead.
I hope that my children know I love them 'cause I'm never getting a nanny (no matter how I beg my husband won't give in. I tell him it's for me and not the kids). I think that we worry too much about giving each child this amazing childhood and not enough on how important it is just to love them. Running through the sprinklers, coloring in a coloring book, reading a story, those are all interactive, fun activities. Not saying that providing more is bad, but don't you feel the pressure to do so?