Cost Benefit Analysis (Or Boy These Kids are Expensive!)

Jack was teasing me on the way home from church yesterday and telling me how much more money and free time his dad and I would have if we had decided NOT to have kids.

Jack is most certainly correct about this and many – many other things. Jack is getting so wise in his late teen years (seriously – absolutely no sarcasm here at all. This young man regularly dazzles me with his insights. He is a listener and a careful observer of people like his dad.)

Jason and I would have tons and tons more free time and disposable income if we had chosen to remain childless/child-free/without offspring.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture it costs just over $284,000 to raise a child from birth through the age of 17. (Our beloved Jack is 18 and we are still loving – caring – nurturing – feeding – and clothing him = so we can add bonus funds to his tab!?!?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture doesn’t count the college years either – those don’t look particularly inexpensive from where I sit . . .

Yes – my oldest son was correct. If Jason and I had skipped welcoming John Stuart and William Andrew into our lives we would have a whole lot more money in the bank and in our billfolds! We could retire early(ier).   We could buy that home in Mexico or those wooded acres in Appalachia. We could travel on a whim. We could do lots of nifty things we dream of doing – but need to save our pennies – nickels and dimes for right now.

Oh and the free time Jason and I would have . . .

I taunted Jack right back and declared – “Now that’s just plain mean!” (It isn’t money I long for/experience greed over – it is time!)

No school drop-off. No trips to du-Pont Manual. No packing lunches – making breakfasts – checking backpacks. No school uniforms. No spelling words. No extra trips to the grocery store for ice cream. No emergency – last minute anythings because Jason and I don’t procrastinate. No picking up Legos and ships and accidentally forgotten candy wrappers. No trips to the vet clinic at 5:45 AM on Saturday morning before my coffee has kicked in.

Yes – Jason and I would have tons more free time if we had chosen to skip this whole parenthood gig. And we would most certainly have more money in our retirement accounts.

But . . . I said to Jack as tempting as $600,000 is (and believe me that sounds mighty nice!) – I have bonded with you guys now. I can’t return you. . . Besides that Mimi and Auntie would be furious with me!

And more importantly . . . I think that my Saturday evening was priceless and my Sunday evening was too. I made cherished memories with my beloved family this weekend. We enjoyed and delighted in a few favorite family traditions.

We carved pumpkins on Saturday evening and dined on take away and watched an old black and white scary movie together.

This is a ritual we established years ago when Jack was still just a little guy. Pizza (from a box/take away) must be eaten on pumpkin carving night while watching a carefully selected classic horror movie and drinking soda (for the soda and pizza consuming members of our clan).

I love carving pumpkins with Jason – Jack and Will. The mess. The chatter and joking. The planning. The guts. The laughter. The memories of Halloween pumpkins past.   The annual lighting of the pumpkins! I love all of it – because I simply love to be in the same room with these 3 human beings!

With each passing year – Jason and I are needed less and less on pumpkin carving night. Now Jason is simply needed to handle Will’s lid cutting and to help with the gut removal.   Now that he is almost 9 – Will drew his own design and took over most of his own pumpkin carving this year.

Of course – Jack has been masterfully carving his own pumpkins for years.

I hang out and take pictures and ohh and ahh and laugh and talk.   And provide the supplies. I am very good at my job.

This year we watched – “Night of the Demon!” Jason and I had read the truly excellent short story “Casting the Runes” by M.R. James and we were curious about the movie. I highly recommend the movie – but – of course – like always – the book/story was way – way better! So I recommend the short story even more highly . . .

And Sunday – well – Sunday – I took a handsome navy admiral Trick-or-Treating!

Admiral McFarland and I wonderful evening together. 8 year old human beings truly are such delightful creatures. Will love – love – loved the costume Jason found for him and he wore it with such pride.

So – Jack was absolutely – positively correct when he stated that – his dad and I would have tons more time and oodles more disposable income if we had skipped parenthood.

But – I think we made the right decision for us when we welcomed these two guys into our lives and wallets – because the blessings they bring with them are priceless. . .

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