Last night I had the pleasure of tossing and turning with my Samantha for about 3 hours in the middle of the night. She is one of those children who are up when they are up no matter what time of the day it is. She rises early with words instantly on her lips. Samantha is the kind of girl who throws up at 2 AM and once done begins discussing what she will be doing later that day. Needless to say, when she is up, she is up.
So at 3 o’clock this morning I begin to think of the cost of being a parent. Here is my simple list I came up with.
1) It has cost me my sleep. I believe that I have been sleep deprived for the last six years…wait lets go with seven and a half. Losing sleep began way before Micah was actually born. He began disrupting my sleep within five months of being conceived.
2) It has cost me money. Seriously I don’t know where it really comes from. The average cost to raise a child from birth to the age of 18 is $301,000 per child. (I have the pleasure of multiplying that by three.) Other factors to consider…college cost vs them living with us beyond their 18th year. Either way there is a huge financial investment being made.
3) It has cost me my body. Since I am not a model whose body is contractually obligated to stay a certain size, weight, or appearance I look different than I did nine years ago. Now to all the naysayers who say “well Suzie, you know you can do something about that” I must remind you finding time and making this a priority, is not a huge priority when you are sleep deprived.
4) It has cost me my personal space. Ha, privacy…a word that is not in the vocabulary of my children. Seems to be a tough one to learn and doesn’t compute with a two year old. If you don’t mind me being honest. It is rare I have a moment in the bathroom alone for longer than 2 minutes without someone all of a sudden needing me. And as well as my husband tries to intercept any one of the three children seems like someone always slips through the cracks. Let’s not forget that our bed is now always open for business for any child who is sick, has a bad dream, or simply gets up to go pee and is too sleepy to make it back to their room.
5) It has cost me relationships. I have plenty of friends who do not have children. When you don’t have children you really never fully understand what life with children is like. Friends are generally sympathetic, but there is a level of patience that wears out on other people’s end. I avoid having people over for dinner simply because I see that level of intolerance that occurs when my children are unruly, out of control, or simply so excited to have people over that they about pee themselves. People without kids are quicker to judge and tell you how your child should be acting or how you should be raising them. A unique aspect of my life is that my kids are pastor’s kids (PK is the correct term I think) they are constantly in the shadows of the church. Being watched, corrected, followed, thought of, loved on, shun upon and the list can go as to what life as a PK is like. So their home is where they can grow and be trained. I have opted to wait until I have trained them a little better before having too many people in the house; it keeps it a safe place for them. Please understand I have people I have chosen to speak into my children and pour into them. But I have handpicked them. My children are my priority and if I get this wrong our problems will be greater than the excitement and unruliness others perceive.
6) It has cost me my life. The moment we said yes to children was the moment I surrendered what could have been had we never had children. I said yes to something I honestly didn’t have a clue to. I said yes to surrender my time, my fun, my needs, and a choice to live how I pleased. It will in the end cost me all of who I am. While becoming a parent isn’t a death sentence it very much more than just playing house with a really hot guy!
You may be reading this and feel like I am confirming every reason as to why you will never become a parent. You may be reading this lamenting over the very things you have lost. Either way there is a list that is actually priceless….no cost could ever be put on it. In fact people pay thousands of dollars in hopes of creating a list of priceless moments with their own children.
In the most cliché voice you could imagine, I have the following to say, “I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world.” I wouldn’t go back in time to give me and Jay more time together, I wouldn’t have waited until we were more prepared, and in a heartbeat I would say “yes” to another child. My reasons will only be priceless to me, because you could never love my children as much as I do. You can really never see their full potential as I could see it, you will never be so far in with my kids that you would move heaven and earth if possible for them.
The most miraculous thing about children is you never know. You never know what will come out of their mouth next, you never know when they will finally get it, and you will never know when they will choose to love each other and others. You will never know what kind of people they will become until they become it, you will never know how much a tender touch from a child can change your day, you will never know the moment they will hear God speak to them directly, you will never know if they will be the next best football player, doctor, or plumber. You will never know how priceless having children really is until you they arrive.
Up until then it really is all a cost.