Friday, October 2, 2015

Cost < Reward

Kids aren't cheap. We all know this. In the past two weeks, I've spent more money on compression shorts, pants, and both long and short sleeved Nike Pro apparel for my son than I care to tally. Tonight I didn't have to do the math; the tally was presented to me by the Dick's cashier who asked if I wanted to charge the whooping $165 I'd racked up on the few items I bought for my son's cross country meet tomorrow. (It's going to be cold, so we needed long everything.)

After leaving Dick's, I stopped into the grocery store to buy him a 12-pack of Horizon single serve chocolate milk cartons (his post-run beverage that he shares with his friends), some Clif bars, and string cheese. While checking out, I requested a measly $20 in cash back, asking the cashier if she could give me a ten and two fives. She looked bothered at the thought of breaking it down as per my request. "If I have it in the drawer" she snipped. I apologetically (and sort of casually) explained that it was for my son to have at his meet tomorrow, in the event that he wanted to buy a snack. "If I give him a twenty, he'll spend the whole thing," I said.

It struck her, a mother's plight. She started to talk about how costly it is to raise kids. She didn't say this with anger or resentment, but from a place of knowledge. She explained that she is the mother of four children, and she works two jobs just to pay for their college tuitions, and to live. Her eldest daughter finished medical school and is currently an internist, her second youngest son is now starting the master's part of his medical degree. She has one son in the military, and one who is going to County (she pulled him out of his original university, despite his scholarship, after seeing that he was partying too much and fearing for his well-being). She told me that she recently said to her son, the one that's in med school, that once he gets a job, he and his sister (the other doctor) will have to take care of her financially, because she's sick of working two jobs. She said this with a laugh. It was clear that she'd do anything for her kids. In fact, she already has.

The job of a parent is a big, important one.

There are many parents I know who put themselves before their children. They take money that would be used for their kids, and put it towards the things that they want for themselves. They choose to do things socially that sacrifice the time they have with their children. They believe that it's their time to live their lives. But what about their kids, the ones who need to be raised and guided? When people choose to have children, they should commit to raising them for 18 years, being present and available. In the grand scheme of things, it's a short period of time. Those 18 years of raising (the good, the bad, and the plain old gnarly) are a gift that we, as parents, are fortunate to have. Our kids will grow up, move out, and have their own life, just like we do. We want them to answer our phone calls, choose to visit, and most importantly, to look back fondly at their childhood.

What could possibly be more important than that?

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