Thursday, July 29, 2004

Cost of Living
Does it really cost that much to have a baby? Of course not. It's sort of like weddings. If your goal is to get married, it's cheap. If your goal is to outdo and impress your friends, it's expensive.

Just look at the things in this article that few, if any, people need:
  • Breast pump, bottles, etc: just take the baby with you. This also saves on babysitter costs.
  • Baby classes: that's crazy. If you want to expose your baby to Mozart, switch on the radio. If you're really concerned about brain development, you can get all the ideas you could want for free from the library and Internet.
  • Picture taking and distributing equipment: OK, we may be a bit derelict in this department. We are going to get a digital camera one of these days, really we are. And we don't have the expense for everything else needed to distribute them because we already have it. So I can't be too critical here.
  • Books at $20 apiece: Thanks to aunts who know how to shop thrift stores, we have a good, low-cost collection. We also have several library cards.
  • New car: huh?
  • First birthday party: Give the kid some paper to crinkle up, cake to smash in his face, and adults acting like lunatics to watch, and he'll be happy.

Babies are the craziest thing to spend a lot of money on, because a) they have no idea you're doing it and couldn't care less as long as they get fed, and b) there is so much perfectly good baby stuff out there for next to nothing, because of all the people out there who are spending thousands of dollars on stuff for their kids--and then they only have two, so it's still in great condition when they're done with it.

Time to hit the garage sales again.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ah, but those babies grow up...as mine have...and a good, private college costs about 40K per year now - and the costs are rising at a rate of 6-8% a year.

By the time ours are done with college, we will have paid out over 300K in tuition.

Also, there are women who must rely on daycare and breast-pumps, so your "if any" qualifier is more than a bit callous. They are doing the best they can with their child's best interests at heart and demeaning them with such an off-handed comment isn't very charitable.

Baby classes aren't "crazy". Who are you to say what's crazy, anyway? Baby classes are often a way for young mothers to socialize with each other, get out of the house, break the routine, etc.

Also, your comment about people spending thousands on things for their children and then only having two is quite hurtful. We had wanted a larger family, but I had to have a hysterectomy after my second. I am often faced with so-called "Christian" women who look at my two and make judgemental, critical comments about my selfishness and so on...

Think before you write, if you're going to write publicly like this. You are not the only person in the world, your situation is not the same as everyone else's and you don't really know anything about anyone else from what you see on the outside.

Good day.

Kevin & Amy said...

Karen,

Just read this particular post. I admire the way you view life and seek to take care of your family. I've enjoyed reading your blog. Since you only had one comment on this post, and it was a negative, one, I felt compelled to comment also. I think you made several really good points. Too often, people think they have to 'keep up with the Joneses' when, frankly, babies could care less if they're wearing name brand clothing. What's more important to children than new cars, fun classes, the best clothing, and, yes, even breast pumps, is a mother's loving care. It's obvious that you have sacrificed to stay home with Abbey. You're a smart lawyer who could be making a significant amount of money to supplement your family income. Yet, you deem it more important to be there for your child. (Eternal rewards.) While I understand that some women, in desperate circumstances, are compelled to place children in daycare, I think society should view this as something to be regretted rather than something to be celebrated. Daycare is clearly not in the best interests of children. Many studies show us that daycare negatively impacts children (negatively affects behavior, social/cognitive development, bonding between mother/child, health, etc.) I think that MOST women who put their kids in daycare, COULD keep them home if they were as wise, loving, and selfless as you are.

Keep up the good work,

Amy Koons

"There is an emptiness in the soul of a woman under ecstatic capitalism. The office, with its ephermeral projects, water-cooler intimacies, and disposable employees, cannot satisfy the hunger for enduring connections, for the happiness that comes from the passionate love stirred by an utterly dependent being, for knowing and being known in ways only possible in the private space of family life." - Kay Hymowitz

Anonymous said...

Yes, Amy, I agree - I stayed home with my children myself and I think it was a wise choice.

However, making unsubstantiated comments about whether or not other women have to go to work or not is exactly the kind of uncharitableness I'm speaking of. It's not yours to judge. You do not know what costs others have - my life looked very "comfortable" on the outside, but we were in debt for a long time due to my illness and medical bills. Had I gone back to work in order to help pay those bills, no doubt some sanctimonious Christian cow would have noted the size of our home or the make of our cars and made a snide comment.

Self-congratulatory posts such as yours and the journalists make value judgements based on sweeping generalizations.

How about living your life as you see fit and allowing others to do the same? When you are perfect and when your children are perfect, then you can tell the rest of the world how to live their lives, okay? Until then, we're all doing the best we can, and instead of trashing others' choices, we should be supporting each other.

BTW - the one stay-at-home Christian homeschooling mom I ever knew now has one son in jail for breaking into several of our homes and stealing our things and a daughter who became famous at the age of 13 for her, ah, oral skills.

No one way is necessarily better than another.

As for the breast pumps, that's not your business. Period.

Frankly, it's women like you who make me ashamed to call myself Christian.

Good day.

Anonymous said...

Oh...and the reason the snottiness regarding the breast pumps is bothering me so much is because I had to start chemo and radiation shortly after the birth of my second child, so I pumped as much breast milk as I could while I could.

I'm sure you and your holier-than-thou pal, had you seen me purchasing the pump, would have exchanged knowing glances and have made critical and judgemental comments the second I had left the store...

Because you know everything, right? You know everything about everyone and what's best for us all...

Right.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous,

It's obvious from your words that you have been hurt by professing believers regarding the way you were forced to live your life as it was dictated by your circumstances. I am a Christian, homeschooling mom, with "many" children. As I get older, I see how life often throws curveballs at us and I am forced to amend my opinions about things. It is true that some people who say they are Christians fulfill Jesus' words when He said, "In the last days, many people's hearts will grow cold." I have experienced this firsthand and it is heartbreaking. Women who have been unable to have as many children as they wanted to have or who had cancer, as you did (and congratulations on your recovery, by the way), have had to endure many slights (to put it mildly) by the people of the church. This is a large reason why we are not in church. Not because they thought weren't living holy "enough"; but because we were "too holy." At least they though so. We didn't. We just tried to live the life God called us to live.

I do want to say one thing in support of the ladies who poo-pooed breast pumps, day care, working moms: If you are honest, you would have to admit that there are a huge number of women who simply do not WANT to be mothers, who do not FEEL FULFILLED being homeworkers like the Bible calls us to be. They are materialistic and worry about having all the stuff they want/"need." I know a lot of moms who truly thought they needed to work in order to properly use all their "talents." They found out that they were deceived by the so-called feminists and that they could be perfectly happy, fulfilled, and not living in poverty if they chose to stay home with their children.

I had a child with a neuroligical problem and could suck properly. I had to use a breastpump to try to give him my milk. I worried about what the church ladies would think of me for using a pump. I knew I would be questioned about my commitment to my child even though I knew that it was because of my deep commitment to him that I resorted to the pump (it didn't work, by the way, and I had to give him a bottle--I know...criminal). You have to admit, though, that the bulk of the sales of breast pumps are to working mothers who have opted to work. It is a fact.

Again, I am truly sorry you have been hurt by the people in churches. I am not surprised, but I am sorry it happened to you, too.

Queen of Carrots said...

First off, let me say that I don't judge people for their fertility-related actions, unless they want to volunteer selfish reasons. I know there are people who would love to have more children, and can't, and women who would love to stay home with their children, and can't. I have a friend who has decided to stop having children because of problems with severe post-partum depression, and I don't blame her for that decision. And since DOB has a medical condition that prevents him obtaining disability insurance, we do plan that if the condition worsens and he is unable to work, I will have to pitch in.

The "if any" didn't refer to everything on the list--there are definitely situations where a breast pump is necessary (which reminds me that I need to borrow one and put a few ounces in the freezer for emergencies). Most of the things on the list, though, while nice, are things nobody *needs*--like digital cameras and baby classes. It's not necessarily crazy to have those things, but it's crazy to run up consumer debt over them or use such expenses as a reason for a wife to work or to limit the number of children. And that's what most people do.

So . . . if someone is working because it's that or bankruptcy, if it would be dangerous or impossible for them to have more children, they're doing what they can and my heart goes out to them in their difficult circumstances. This post was not aimed at them.

But this post was aimed at those who are blinded to the possibilities by a typical middle-class American consumeristic mindset. Just to give our perspective, we didn't do the math and then decide I could stay home. We decided I would stay home, and now we're making it work--even though DOB has yet to make a steady income and most people at his stage of the business consider a working wife a necessary safety net. It means I watch the outgo of money very carefully, we do without a lot of modern "necessities," and I know where to cut next if need be. And we're pretty well off, from my perspective. I know people raising seven happy, healthy kids in a single-wide trailer. I don't think they'd be better off if five of them had been eliminated and their mother went to work so the two that were left could have a decent house and a college fund.

The reality is, most Americans could handle more children and could afford to raise them themselves--if they really wanted to do so. Having made some tough choices ourselves, and enjoying ourselves so much that they don't even seem like close calls, I think we are in a position to have a little fun at the expense of those who are sacrificing their children on the altar of affluency. Maybe it will wake them up to see what they are missing.

Queen of Carrots said...

College is a whole different topic that deserves its own post . . .

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah....'cause Christ was real big on having a little fun at the expense of others to make yourself feel better.

You are a judgemental, sanctimonious hypocrite.

Go sell your computer and get rid of your blog service before you start preaching about necessary and unecessary expenses. One woman pays for a baby class so she can find support and friendship with women in a similar situation as herself. You pay for a computer and an internet connection and open a blog so you can feel connected to the world - what the hell is the difference and who are you to get all preachy on it? Is everything in YOUR life merely a basic necessity? Have you given away all your wordly goods to the poor? If not, then shut up and mind your own business.

And you don't know that everyone in a baby class or motherhood class or a whatever class is running up consumer debt over it. Hell, maybe they can afford it because she is a good money manager. Hell, maybe they can afford a lot of things you can't and that's what's really gotten your big ol' bloomers in a bunch, eh?

Other people's choices aren't your business. It's that simple. If you were as happy as you say you are about your choice, you wouldn't feel the need to make snarky comments about other people's.

Make your choices and be happy with them and let other people be happy with theirs. You don't know everyone and you don't know what's in their hearts, what God has called them to do, or how happy or unhappy they are. You don't know if a baby class was the one lifeline that helped a young, otherwise isolated stay-at-home mother cope. You, actually, don't know a damn thing about anyone else.

For every story you can dredge up of a woman who works but secretly wants to stay home, I can find one about a woman who stayed home and became resentful of her husband and family because she secretly wanted more from life. Anecdotal evidence is meaningless. As for women happily raising large families in single-wides, all I can say is look what happened to Andrea Yates after spending so much time raising her family in a bus...and we can play that game forever...only where does it get us? How about showing a little positive support, love, kindness and compassion instead of taking cheap shots at people who just don't happen to share the same lifestyle as you?

Actions speak louder than words - your actions are screaming that you're just jealous and need to make your own choices look better by running other people's down. If you were truly as happy and content as you say you are with your choices, there would be no need to have fun at other people's expense. The hostility in one's humor says a lot about a person...

Whatever. You have shown me what you are and what you really stand for. Selfish, selfish, selfish...and selfishness is the greatest sin there is.

Have a nice life, if you can manage to keep your nose out of other people's long enough to actually have one...

Kevin & Amy said...

Dear Anonymous,

Four things and then I will shut up and let you simmer in your own misery, regardless of what you say about me afterwards. I refuse to play more games with you.

1. It is a cop-out to post anonymously because that means that you aren't willing to reveal your identity and stand behind your own words. (Maybe you don't really believe in them and just want to stir up strife?)

2. You preach against being "judgmental" but are very quick to make harsh (and emotional) judgments and voice strong opinions against Karen and all those who happen to disagree with you. The word "hypocrisy" comes to mind.

3. You take simple statements way out of context (to the extreme) and seem to have no balance in life.

4. A blog is a FORUM for stating opinions. If you don't like Karen's opinions, don't read her blog. If you disagree with Karen's opinions, go start your OWN BLOG and try to convert the rest of the world to your insane ideology.

Good luck,

Amy Koons

Anonymous said...

well, this is an old post, but I am happy someone actually said something about these posts.
Christians ? Sounds more like Arians preaching her better position in a world where everyone else is a failure.
I can see some from the same church coming to the rescue - united, you will remain poor, jealous and hypocrites.