Month: November 2012

The Price of Parenthood

The cost of Parenthood, according to The Wall Street Journal

This week The New York Times published an essay on the cost of  feeding,  housing and educating a child into adulthood, and beyond. The post by Nadia Taha, The Cost, in Dollars, of Raising a Child covered every element of child rearing one could think of from braces to college to providing healthcare to the child into his or her twenties. The negative effects of Motherhood aka. “The Mommy Track” against a woman’s career and total lifetime earnings was also detailed. This extraordinary break down,which came to $435,030 in a conservative estimate to $ 776,000  and upwards to a cool 1.6 million by The Wall Street Journal’s cost analysis can be found here: http://bucks.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/13/the-cost-in-dollars-of-raising-a-child/

But what the writer missed while covering the monetary benefit of not having children is this: Parenthood is rarely so simple and clear. Statically, more than half the children born are not planned, the result of  the “oops factor.” However, human nature and foibles didn’t come into the writer’s reasoning and neither did, it seemed,  did the heart.

As I read the break down my heart hurt. I thought of the parents, the singles and couples, who agonized over having children, and yet found themselves staring at an EPT test strip with two purple lines. I thought of my grandfather, the second man my maternal grandmother married, a woman who brought five children to the marriage and added two more to their new jointly formed family. No one in that house, I believe, conducted a dollar cost analysis to having additional children or the act of raising children produced from another man’s gene pool, an idea lost on me, sadly until the funeral of my Grandpa Joe, ten years ago. I missed thanking the one super hero that ever bounced me on his knee but I can be proud of my brother Jeffrey who followed our Grandfather’s example and married my sister-in-law, a mother of two, and added two children to their union, creating as close that I’ve personally seen to a black Brady Bunch.

As with many things in life you can look at the bottom line or you can listen to what your heart tells you. And somehow, I believe at the end of my life, the calculation made by my heart, to become a mother, to adopt a child, to step into the life I wanted, will yield the best return on investment.

Power to the People

As more parts of the city regained power, as Julia and I walked past the entrance to the great park on Central Park West and 100th Street, the nearest playground to our home, an area less than fifty-feet away from the barricade remained closed-off with crime scene yellow tape and a gang of dull metal gates.

The closed entrance to Central Park on Friday.

The trees I had spotted with snapped limbs and angled trunks, pulled up by their roots from the force of the hurricane were long evacuated by workmen the day after the storm. And still the park did not open to the stressed out public in need of some mental nurturing from nature instead of the kick in the face we experienced days earlier. So, I begin to think all this park safety was not for the citizens.

As the city hastily prepared for the 42nd New York Road Runners Marathon, the annual love fest for the world’s runners hosted by the city, The New York Post reported on Friday that four generators were set-up in Central Park to power the media coverage of the race, powerful enough to light 400 homes, each. New Yorkers love a party. but this was a party that should not go on. After I and thousands of people mounted up their Twitter accounts and Facebook pages and posted their rage at this misuse of power, as our fellow New Yorkers still trapped in the devastation of a ravaged Staten Island calls for help went unanswered, on Friday afternoon, the marathon committee canceled the race.

Mary Wittenberg, president and CEO of New York Road Runners, calling off the marathon at a Friday press conference, after days of pressure.

Power to the people.

Truth is, on some level I understood why they wanted to hold the race. I am a runner. Julia and I regularly hit Central Park, she in the jogging stroller, me as the running mommy, working to stay connect to a sport I have loved since McMichael Junior High.

But each day since the storm blew out, it  became clear that the city was not ready emotionally, nor physically to host this marathon, that the marathon hit the runner’s wall just as Hurricane Sandy rolled out Tuesday morning, and the rising sun revealed the devastation left in her wake, a fact that Mayor Bloomberg did not want to concede to anyone or anything until the media+social pressure became too great. Became too loud, powered by the people.

 

So, no cheers at the finish line in Central Park today. No classic shots of the last marathoner valiantly struggling across the last few miles, alone in the dark, accompanied by the NYPD to finish the race now cloaked in darkness. But plenty of cheers as the power was restored to more homes across more and more of New York City, witnessed while I watched the local news last night. Plenty of smiles as misplaced marathoners donated their time and delivered food and water to those in need Sunday afternoon.

The collection of pull-ups, like the water, is mounting.

I  do not think, as some do, that Mayor Bloomberg is an insensitive lout. Bloomberg, just like many New Yorkers, believed so strongly in his will of accomplishment. So much so, he could not see the big picture, the complete road ahead for his city’s recovery.

Sort of like a single baby mama who decided, after months of harassment from her mother who ships pull-up diapers from Michigan, non-stop , so Julia could begin the potty training my daughter’s pediatrician said was still six months away, so I could “ have them on hand,” grandma had proclaimed, I decided to start potty training Julia, on Monday, during a state of emergency on the east coast of the United States. And I learned, in no uncertain terms, a whole new level of what the phrase “state of emergency” means.

Good News, Bad News

Good News.(G.N.) Julia and Mommy are fine, high and dry on the Upper West Side, on day one of the Hurricane Sandy aftermath, Julia decides to done her spare Bumble Bee costume. And Mommy learns the power of play in the tough, emergency situation, an unprecedented event in New York City. Grandma calls three times before noon.

At least Julia’s having a great time through these stormy days.

Bad News. (B.N) Thousands of fellow New Yorkers and many of our friends can not say the same regarding their situation. While Julia naps Mommy sends out text messages. Few come back below from friends and loved ones who live below 30th Street. The Dark Zone.  Mommy remembers Eddie, a co-worker who lives on the water with his family.
G.N. Julia enjoys having Mommy home for days at a time, wondering where the Mommy who runs out of the door each morning has gone.
B.N. Mommy turns off a Baby Einstein video to check the news and tears start to crest in her eyes.

G.N. Julia looks at the same news reports and with each sight of crushed homes in water, broken boats in water, broken people standing in knee-high water, she points to the TV screen and shouts ” Agua! Agua!”

“Yes, lots of agua,” Mommy says and clicks off the tv screen. Then looks out of the living room window at the dancing trees.

While Julia naps, Mommy has a phone conference with her grad school professor regarding Mommy’s thesis, and Mommy remembers she is a writer.

Day one, after Sandy dropped by

Day 2.

B.N. Mommy got cabin fever and she and Julia leave the house.

G.N. Once outside, Mommy  recalls she and Julia are high and dry on the Upper Westside, tons of people are out walking, jogging, sipping Starbucks coffee from clean paper cups with belly bands, chatting like the day was just a normal one in the queue. Almost.

B.N. This street view reminds Mommy of the days after 9/11 when life on the Upper Westside continued on, even with the odor of death riding the air. This time destruction carries the smell of salt water.

GN. Julia enjoys the walk about. When we return we call the nanny and sing Happy Birthday, together, over the phone. Afterwards, Angie’s voice cracks, knowing we remember her important day. Mommy reads The Very Busy Spider for the 49th time, this time acting out all the voices of the animals.

Julia takes her stroller for spin while her conditioner goes to work.

Day 3.

GN. Mommy and Julia have a morning of beauty. Julia, a shampoo and deep conditioner. Mommy applies a Clarins moisturizing masque to her face that she hasn’t used in a year and tries to remember what occupied her mind so much last week, before the storm came. She can not recall.