Literal price tags on our Heads

“For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evils”.  This infamous bible verse from the book of Timothy (1Timothy 6:10, New International Version) has been quoted many times over. Often to explain the current economic climate, a particular government regime or even to explain certain persons bizarre behavior after experiencing riches most of us mortals could only dream of.  I think of this verse when I need consolation; that my financial woes are actually for my benefit. But than reality kicks in and it’s hard to think that way when there is “more month than money” at times.

We live in a very consumeristic society. That statement has been on repeat for decades it seems but the truth of it becomes more and more solidified as the years go up on our calendars.

According to this article from foxnews.com:

“The Department of Agriculture says the estimated cost of raising a child from birth through age 17 is $233,610, or as much as almost $14,000 annually. That’s the average for a middle-income couple with two children. It’s a bit more expensive in urban parts of the country, and less so in rural areas.”

(http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/01/10/cost-raising-child-is-more-than-233k-in-us.html)

I read that and I want to laugh, cry, and then ask my husband which one of us should sell a kidney first.  I have four kids so according to this information I’m looking at spending $934,440 to raise my kids until the age of 17.  I might as well file for bankruptcy now.

I did my life backwards according to most people’s life plans. My husband and I got married young, had our first kid right away and kept on having  kids every time we experienced some life changing financial stability. We don’t own a house yet and without God’s great mercy I couldn’t even tell you when that will become a possibility.  This isn’t a pity party nor do I ask for sympathy (unless you want to donate money to us foolishly smitten people, I would be okay with that) it’s just the facts of my life right now.  So should we take these numbers seriously? Should we live in fear of the financial unknown of our adult lives? Honestly, I think it depends on your personal situation. Some people will see these numbers and start saving like fiends and bulking up their investments, some will never have kids and others like me will laugh and say “I’m screwed.” Though in reality stronger words came out of my mouth.

I never wanted to wait till I was older to have kids it just seemed to me to be a more exhausting thing to do after establishing a career and having the “dream house.” My dad would always say “it’s never a good time to have kids, so just do it when you want to.” Words have never been more prophetic in my life. We would have our proverbial “ish” together and then discuss if we could/should/wanted to have another child and here we are! I don’t write any of this on a judgement towards anyone or to call myself or my husband idiots I’m just telling you my story. Everyone plans their lives differently and that’s just it.

The most disturbing thing about these statistics is we are literally putting price tags on our children’s lives. That just has to feel a little wrong, doesn’t it? When we have to start crunching numbers and setting up IRA accounts it feels more like we treat our future families as monetary investments instead of spiritual investments.  I am well aware that kids are a terrible investment financially, but we suck it up and move on. That’s not the real reason we keep having them.

So who do you think suffers most from this price tag game? Children do. More specifically the unborn.

The following are just a few statistics found on the Guttmacher Institute website for the year 2011.
“The unintended birthrate in 2011 was 22 per 1,000 women aged 15–44.[8] The abortion rate was 17 per 1,000 women.[13]”

“In 2011, lower proportions of poor and low-income women than of higher-income women chose to end an unintended pregnancy by abortion. Consequently, poor women had a relatively high unintended birth rate.[8]”
(https://www.guttmacher.org/fact-sheet/unintended-pregnancy-united-states)

These statistics should be staggering to us. We live in a culture where babies are often not wanted or cannot even be supported by their mothers or families.  There are pregnancies that are occurring that most woman did not want or plan and abortion is their ultimate choice. I suspect that this is often due to financial reasons. It breaks my heart that any woman would have to make such an irreversible and heart wrenching decision but it disturbs me more that as a society we view this as acceptable. We see the termination of life as a viable option instead of offering women and families support. We don’t see children as a natural outcome of sex but as an inconvenience and an expensive one at that. I’m not writing this to condemn any woman for her decision I’m just trying to correlate our obsession with “having all the things” and all the “money we need” as maybe not being the healthiest mind set. We often suggest that the families who don’t have the big houses and the fancy cars and the bulky savings accounts are maybe not providing the best for their kids. We see teenagers and girls in the midst of their college careers as careless and weak for having the natural course of sexual relations befall them. All this for the “almighty dollar”.  The message is clear that babies cost money and babies need all the right things to turn out to be functional human beings who can contribute to society.  If it’s anything less than that you shouldn’t even try.

I don’t have any explanations on how to fix our money problems I’m just offering the outlook that when you start treating life as a commodity and putting price tags on your future children, the whole thing starts feeling like endless business deals and negotiations. When you cling to the concept that we are in control at some point,  life will feel like it’s falling apart. Plans rarely go as intended and “curve balls” come our way. We don’t always have the money we want or the resources we despatetely need. But the human race has been resilient. Some how in some way certain situations turn out just fine or even better than could be expected. Maybe this whole article just comes down to not counting or pennies constantly and hoping for the better. Maybe we should expect more miracles in our lives.

I personally believe in God and I believe he gave me my children for a reason so maybe it’s easier for me to make sense of life and it’s struggles; or maybe I’m still the fool who laughs at having to spend nearly a million dollars to raise my children and will never have that kind of money at my disposal. But what is a million dollars compared to four priceless souls that cannot be repeated again in human history? You can keep your price tags and your statistics while I enjoy whatever this life has to offer for richer or poorer. Life, love and experiences can never have a price tag.

 

The God of Relationships 

God wants to be included in everything that we do. He especially wants to be apart of our relationships. We need God to be in our marriages and our families. Marriage is sacred and holy if we include God in it. I’m finally learning how necessary that reallly is. It’s been said that your relationship with God, or lack there of, is oftentimes reflected in your most personal relationships.

It’s easy to take people for granted and it’s even easier to do that with those closest to you. Consider it a gift when you wake up one morning and you realize how blessed you really are. Consider it God trying to send you a message when He let’s you feel that way for weeks at a time. That’s been the case with me. I know God has allowed me to see my blessings not just for my benefit but for the benefit of my family. God gives you the spouse you have and the kids you made for a reason and it has to be more than just to make yourself happy. God gives you your unique marriage and children to have a purpose as a family on this earth. I’m not going to lie I feel pretty bored and burnt out with my family life sometimes. It can be difficult to take care of people on a constant basis. But I’ve come to the realization that those low points shouldn’t be the norm for me or my husband. Married life and family life are about renewal and finding joy even when the universe feels like it’s out to get you. I’m learning that my family is my sanctuary and my spouse is the one person I can count on. However, it has to be mutual. I have to be there for him every day even when I don’t have it in me. That’s where faith and trust in God comes in. I couldn’t give my family what they need and what my husband needs without having a relationship with a God who cares so much about relationships. God is a god in three persons because relationship is the basis of life. We are meant to be in communion and not alone. God chose Mary and Joseph to see His only Son into this world and raise Him in a family because that is what life is about. The purpose of our lives is to be with other people and to be a source of unconditional love for those placed in our care.

God doesn’t want me to walk this earth alone. He’s proved that by giving me a wonderful husband and four beautiful kids. I often doubt my ability to do what he’s asked me to do. It’s terrifying having that much responsibility. God won’t let me fall flat on my face. He knows my struggles and he knows my dreams. He knows what my family needs before I even ask for the help to care for them. God is a god who cherishes family life. He cherishes those quiet moments with your spouse. He loves the joyful noise your children make. He rejoices in your accomplishments and shares in your misery.

I often reflect back on the times when my children were just born. I really understood God’s love for me in those moments of watching my husband hold our just born child for the first time. My husband would sit in the rocking chair in our hospital room and look at that baby like it was the only human in the world. I could sense the love and devotion he had towards that child just by that one look. I will never forget that moment he had with each one of our children. It hit me that that’s how God loves each one of us. He loves us as if we were the only person in the entire world. When you have that knowledge, not just in your head but in your heart, it changes your whole outlook on your relationships and what they really mean. Your love for someone can only take you so far but once you invite the God of Love into your live you can accomplish anything and your family will not only survive but will thrive in this world.

God is the god of relationships and may he bless each of us and our beautiful families.