The Math of Parenting
by Rebecca Erin Murphy
Recently, I was lurking on a parenting forum thread where the topic was “The Cost of Parenting”. Rough estimates on the monetary cost of parenting were tossed around and debated as well as the ethics of becoming a parent if you can’t afford it, along side the all important time factor and how much of one’s life a person can expect to invest towards being a parent.
I started thinking about the numbers of my own parenting experiences. There are actually few that I could put into real numbers.
Like, for example,so far I have spent a total of 139 weeks of my life pregnant,38 hours in labor, 4 years and 4 months breastfeeding.
I have changed approximately 20,000 diapers, which in actuality were only 20,000 diaper changes ,since I used
exclusively cloth diapers for all 4 children. That equates in reality to more like 300-500 cloth diapers washed repeatedly, which is an incredibly wonderful thing since I don’t think I could deal with the idea of having contributed roughly 8 TONS of NON-biodegradable waste onto the earth if I had used disposable instead of cloth.
If I recycled every scrap of paper and tin can I encountered for the rest of my life ,I doubt I could ever earn enough karma back to be in good faith with the Lord & Lady in charge of all things earthly.
In 14 years of parenting, I have read an estimated 5,200 bedtime stories. This is a very rough number because there is no way to possibly figure out how many of those nights I read a pile of books instead of one in an effort to placate the “Just one more story,pleeeease mommy?” pleas. This also does not account for the myriad of story books that were brought to me in the middle of the day at random moments by my little offspring looking for a story and some cuddle time or even the spontaneous tales that were made up on the spot.
Then there are the things that I don’t know how i could possibly put a number on like the thousands of hugs and kisses and “I love yous”, the dozens of doctor’s visits and teaspoons of medicine to cure their ailments, the stitches,the ER visits , the sleepless nights….
The hundreds of times I’ve been asked questions and not really known what to say but somehow came up with an answer that felt right to me and satisfied them. The times that I didn’t know the answer and we found out together. The thousands of teachable,spontaneous moments that life presented on it’s own for both mother and child.
The hundreds of times I wiped tears of pain, both emotional and physical. The dozens of times I’ve dressed Barbie dolls , vroomed cars across the floor, played the part of a ferocious T-Rex coming to devour a timid stegosaurus,sipped invisible tea from a pink plastic tea cup….
Given starter pushes on the swings, made snow sculptures in the snow even though i hate the snow…
Wiped butts and runny noses…
Played in the rain and splashed in puddles, pulled earthworms from their holes, planted seeds, turned over rocks to uncover hiding bugs….
Rescued helpless maidens who climbed too high up in the tree….
Countless other moments ,too many to mention…
My parenting experience has been a spiritual journey. I have been a mother for 14 years, 8 months and 19 days and that time is 9/10 responsible for the woman I am today. It is not ALL that I am as a person but it accounts for a great deal of WHO I am.
So what kind of price after all of that can I put on parenting? I feel it hasn’t cost me anything but earned me more than I ever could have dreamed of. If I could put a monetary value on what I have gained through parenting, I would be a millionaire.
The cost of parenting matters very little when the investment made is priceless
Printed with exclusive permission from the author.