I’ve heard estimates about how much money it takes to raise a kid these days. Without taking the time to look it up, it seems like the number is somewhere in the gazillion dollar range. Enough to make you think twice before having, say, five kids.
Before I became a mom, I naturally assumed that most of that money was spent on big ticket items like hospital expenses accrued as a result of actually bearing your children. Or doctor expenses when the ear of one of your kids gets halfway ripped off by another one of your kids (“It was an accident, Mom! I swear!”). Or mortgage payments. Or college expenses. Or backyard playsets, which turns out cost almost as much as college. Or food, since if you’re any kind of a parent at all you’ll probably want to feed your kids. Nutritious well-balanced meals would be nice, but food in any case.
I was clearly daft before I became a mom.
The big ticket items, it seems, are little ticket items. But they add up to at least half of the allotted gazillion dollars per kid. They sneak into your house by the hundreds in children’s backpacks, are handed to you at school events, practices and rehearsals, arrive via email and snail mail. Colorful and cute and artistically rendered, it takes time before you realize that every last one of those slips of paper asks you to write a check.
Field trips. Book orders. School lunch accounts. Parent Instruction Manuals for Drivers Permits (heaven help us all). Test fees. High School Sports Banquets. Meals for off-campus games. Uniforms and registration fees and equipment. Music lessons. Recitals and costumes.
Day after day after day after day.
Give me an extra mortgage payment every month. At least I’d know exactly what’s coming.
I pay the bills, but Jeff likes to review finances, make helpful budgeting suggestions and the like, and since he’s the breadwinner I figure it’s ok for him to put in his two cents. On occasion.
On one such occasion, he made a teeny-tiny error in judgment. After a long day wherein I had written at least five kid-related checks, Jeff looked over our finances and actually asked me (yes, out loud), “Where does all the money go?”
I handed him the checkbook and left the room, deciding to leave the rest of that evening’s budget reconciliation to him.
Here’s what’s crazy. If you were to ask Jeff, he swears that the checkbook actually whizzed past his ear right before the door slammed behind me.
Semantics, I guess.