Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Need, want, must, should

First off, an unrelated comment: thank you for all the warm wedding anniversary wishes. You ladies are awesome.

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Mrs. P is writing a wonderful series of posts about the real vs. imaginary costs of child-raising. Read the first part here, and the second part, which is about housing, here.

I have written numerous posts on this subject as well, and I'll say this: living simply is not so much about skimping in whatever way you can (though that, too, can be a necessity if you're working towards getting out of debt or for other reasons), but more about re-evaluating your whole mode of thinking, what you really want, and what really is important to you.

Not long ago, I heard a heated radio discussion about how overpriced chocolate bars and breakfast cereals are in Israel. Militant moms urged a customers' boycott until prices are lowered. I laughed and observed to my husband that yes, we should definitely boycott such products - and not go back to buying them even if prices would plummet. Often, what is simpler and cheaper is also healthier and better for us overall.

Consider, for instance, how much some spend on vacations. After a weekend of visiting family in the city, I more than understand why people dream of a nature getaway, and are willing to pay an arm and a leg for overpriced cabins.

We, on the other hand, enjoy the quiet solitude of our home so much that we feel no need to go elsewhere to be well-rested. I estimate we pay as much per month as people pay per night in "nature retreats". An added bonus of living in the middle of nowhere is that you have no shops with window displays to make you restless and discontent with what you have. I'm not saying everyone can or should live the same way - you can make the choice to live simple anywhere, at any stage of life - but it's an example.

As for children, when they are young a large chunk of their "cost" is essentially daycare - paying someone else to shepherd your children. If you do it yourself, you save this cost and reap other, far more lasting benefits. The possibility of having a yard for safe outdoor play is better than the most expensive toys. Children are entertained and educated alike by sun, wind, grass, earth, insects, birds, clouds... they run about, play, climb and explore. They say a thousand entertaining things a minute, and you marvel at how sharp they are (3-year-olds do have fascinating logic. :-))

All in all, it seems to me that those who speak of the "impossible costs" of children come from a point of view of not wanting to have children in the first place, and are mostly making excuses. For when there's a will, there's sure to be a way to think outside the box of stuffy, overpriced daycare and the mad rush someone decided we are all supposed to be engaged in.

5 comments:

Leah Brand-Burks said...

Oh how true it is!

Laura :) said...

You are wise and I enjoy your perspective. I agree with all you have said. My husband and I have no desire to go away on vacation all the time. We can relax here at home just fine. Since I quit work 5 yrs ago to stay home, I have been "out of the loop" and I enjoy it that way. I no longer feel the need to fit in and be just like everyone else. Very liberating.

priest's wife said...

I'm not sure if you have this possibility- but my circle of friends (mostly homeschooling moms with at least 3 children) lend and give clothing, toys and baby equipment to each other. Some babies love swings; some love exersaucers- some love bouncers. It would cost a fortune to experiment with what a baby likes, so we rotate. The onlt thing that every mother must buy new is an infant carseat

Anonymous said...

I don't find changing diapers and washing my countertops meaningful, no matter how much I meditate and wish I did.

There are other aspects of life young women can enjoy, other than child rearing. They can read books, they can discuss politics, they can travel, tney can learn, they can use their artistic talents, or medicinal talents.

Some people are happy staying home and never seeing the world outside their four walls. Others need more space. This blog does not allow for that space and assumes everyone should be the same.

Mrs. Anna T said...

Anon,

I could never assume everyone should be the same, because I believe everyone was created unique, with his/her own gifts and possibilities.

Having said this, most of us will marry and have children, those children *will* need to be cared for, and I do believe it is best for the vast majority of children to be cared for by their mothers.

Washing countertops is in no way in the same league as changing diapers. Changing diapers is part of caring for living, thinking, unique human beings. Countertops don't care if they are spotless clean, but children do care if their diapers are changed with a smile, a song, and a kiss on the tummy.

Being stay-at-home mom does not mean never setting foot outside the house. I think the average office worker is cooped up far more than a stay-at-home mom who gets to hang her laundry in the warm sun, gather eggs from her own chickens, and take her children for long walks every day.