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Good Enough Mother is trying her level best to relax this Sunday morning….
Unfortunately it’s practically impossible as Good Enough Father has taken it upon himself to repair every single broken door, tattered porch screen, warped floorboard and busted dishwasher in this house, all before his 11 am tee-time. Seriously, it’s busier here than on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange during a Bear Rally.
But honestly, the other thing that steals my sleep is money. Money, money, money. How to make it, how much we spend, how to save for college, oh yeah and that little thing called retirement, which a few months ago seemed far off but is now barreling toward us at a dizzying pace.
But before we get there we gotta get these two kids out of the house. For those of you without kids who might have stumbled upon this blog by accident, heed this warning. Turn away. Now!
This is another of those occasions where I rip back the big velvet curtain and expose a key truth about motherhood. RAISING KIDS IS HELLA EXPENSIVE!
You know about college, obviously, but what about all the other, little things, that add up? Well, I’m going to help – by listing them out; you can thank me later. Or pay me (oh well it was worth a try!)
So here goes: THE HIDDEN COSTS OF RAISING A KID:
1. THE DIAPER GENIE (OR CRAP YOU DON’T NEED): Those little babies, so cute and cuddly but with the ability to lay something so tiny and foul you are certain you have just experienced what the innermost level of hell smells like. Enter the Diaper Genie. It purported to be way better than a plain old pale, where the odor would emanate each time you opened it. The Diaper Genie was superior because it sealed each baby bomb into a twisted plastic bag. Truth is, it was expensive and only marginally effective. But I mention it because it is really just an example of all the “you-have-to-have-this” items (along with baby wipes warmers and designer duds) that you really do not “have to have.” Do yourself a favor, skip it and pocket the cash. Or get used to living in poverty…
2. BOBO THE BIRTHDAY CLOWN: Yeah when my kids were small, we did it; hired some person in costume and white face and a big red smile painted from ear to ear to come in and scare the living hell out of our two-year-old, thereby ensuring it would be years before she slept in her own bed or read a Stephen King novel.
Bobo is code for expensive birthday parties. Your kid does not need (especially at age 2) all the “stuff” that you think you are supposed to provide for them to have a great party. What they need is cake, some party hats, a few friends, a few gifts and parents who will make them feel special on their day. Even now, we don’t do the big, expensive birthday parties, yet my kids have a blast and are appreciative every time (for the most part). But many of you do… why?
3. BOBO THE ONE-EYED DOG: Sigh. Bobo the one-eyed dog represents every pet you will have and the ancillary expense that comes with them. Shots, food, vacations to doggie day camp, grooming, burial plot (at the end of their fulfilling life) it all adds up. Of course, your lives will be deeply enriched for them and personally I love the idea of a child growing up with a pet and learning how to love and care for something (after they stop pulling on Bobo’s tail).
4. BRACES: WHOOOO-WEEE! Here we go. Tomorrow, Cole takes the first step at possibly ensuring his parents will spend their golden years asking the all-important question “Would you like to try our new McRib Sandwich? It’s for a limited time only.” That’s because orthodontia ain’t cheap and he is our second kid to have gone this route. If I were you, I’d start saving for now or convince your child bright, white and straight is overrated
5. MUSIC OR SPORTS: Pick one, then be prepared to take it like a man. If it’s sports, they’re gonna need equipment and lots and lots of it. If it’s music, like my kids, that means, renting the instrument (don’t you dare buy it until you know they are committed to sticking with it), private lessons to augment what they get in school, a host of black pants and white shirts for recitals, recital fees, field trips to Julliard and the symphony, need I go on
6. COLLEGE: The mother of all expenditures. You can go a couple of ways here. You can, from the time they pop out of the womb, fit them with teeny-tiny headphones and a tape of hooked on phonics, determined to make them the first 10-month-old baby to have mastered a foreign language. Or place a pigskin in their palms (if you’re able to judge their athletic prowess by the strength of the in utero kicking). Point is, it’s probably wise to find a way to defray the cost of college, which on average in this county is $5,500 for public school and just over $21,000 for private. Per Year! That is TUITION ONLY. Go ahead and tack on thousands more for books, room and board.
7. MOVING BACK HOME AFTER COLLEGE: Come on now, you didn’t REALLY think that with their newly minted degree they were going to go get a place of their own, now did you? Silly you. Why do that when they can come back to the place where it all began? There is a way to possibly keep this from happening. Make sure your kid knows when they get out of college they will a) not step into a CEO role right away, b) that they will not be making 75,000 dollars a year and c) will more than likely not be able to afford the penthouse apartment with leather walls and self cleaning bathtub. Get them to understand the joys of studio apartment living WITH a roommate. Otherwise, you can forget about turning their bedroom into the sewing room/den/project gallery for a while.
8. WEDDING: Here comes the bride…. and her weeping father, pockets turned inside out and palms skyward, sort of like the sketch of the Monopoly man when he declares bankruptcy. Yeah because between the showers, the flowers, the ceremony, the matchbooks, the napkins, the D-R-E-S-S, the band, the minister, oh geez I’m dizzy already. Keep your fingers crossed and you may end up the mother of a boy or have a girl who runs off to the Bahamas to get hitched.
9. MOVING BACK HOME AFTER THE WEDDING: I can barely even type this my hands are shaking so badly at the thought of this even remotely being a possibility. But if your newlyweds are not CEO’s, making 75-grand a year or living in the penthouse apartment with leather walls, they might be looking at you for a place to lay their weary heads. And have sex. Now take this piece of advice. The week that they are gone, turn your kid’s former bedroom into the sewing room/den/project gallery and FAST! Whatever you do, do not make it comfortable! That may keep them from staying too long, unless of course, the newlywed comes back unhitched in which case they may not mind sleeping amid the thread and thimbles. For a long, LONG time.
10. I LEFT THIS ONE BLANK: This is for you. What have you found to be the hidden costs of raising a child that no one shared with you? Share with your fellow GEMs!