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.