Friday, January 31, 2014

The Price of Children

The government recently calculated the cost of raising a child from birth to 18 and came up with an estimated $241,080 for a middle-income couple to raise a child born last year for 18 years. And I thought buying a house was a big deal!!! That doesn't even touch college tuition. But $241,080 isn't so bad if you break it down. It translates into:

- $13,393.34 a year,
- $1,116.11 month
- $279.02 a week.
- That's a mere $39.86 a day!
- Just under two dollars an hour.

Looking at those numbers make it easy to assume that to live a "rich" life children shouldn't enter the equation. Then again, "rich" is merely a matter of definition.

What do you get for your $241,080 investment?
Naming rights. First, middle, and last! 
The sweet smell of a baby.
Big smiles and rubber duckies in the bath tub.
Glimpses of God every day. 
Little hands learning to do.
Giggles under the covers every night.
More love than your heart can hold.
Butterfly kisses and Velcro hugs.
Endless wonder over rocks, bugs, shapes in the clouds, and warm cookies.
A hand to hold, usually covered with jelly or mud.
A partner for swinging high, building tunnels in the snow and jumping in mud puddles.

For $241,080 you never have to grow up. You get to:
Create with construction paper. 
Build with colorful blocks. 
Skip rocks across rippling water. 
Read your favorite fairy tales. 
Play tag, kick the can and sour sardines.
You never have to stop believing in Santa Claus or the tooth fairy.
You get to frame painted pictures and colored papers and notes that say "I love you" and you get to fit them all on your fridge.

For $241,080, there is no greater bang for your buck. You get to be a hero just for:
Filling up the candy dish. 
Holding up the bike for your little one and even taking the training wheels right off. 
Netting the first fish they reel in on their new pole. 
Teaching them to shoot the bb gun you first learned with. 
Putting a band-aide on a scraped knee and a kiss on an owie. 

You get a front row seat to history to witness the:

- first step
- first word
- first prayer
- first date
- first time behind the wheel

You get to leave a legacy that lasts forever. You get another branch added to your family tree, and if you're lucky, a long list of limbs in your obituary called grandchildren and great grandchildren. You get an education in psychology, nursing, criminal justice, communications, and human sexuality that no college would dare to tackle.

In the eyes of a child, you rank right up there under God. You have all the power to heal a hurt, scare away the monsters in the closet, patch a broken heart, police a slumber party, ground them forever, and love them without limits.

So, this life that some will consider costs too much ironically is the richest life one can choose.

You might be wondering because Justin and I don't have any little kids yet and NO this is not our way of saying there will be some within the next nine months. But we have 11 little lives we love with all of our hearts. Those little people make our lives so special and to see the way they complete their parents and grandparents - I can hardly imagine a life any richer! 

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