When I found out I was pregnant I found myself googling things like: “how much money does a kid cost over time?” (p.s.- don’t google it) or “how much does it cost to birth a child? In a hospital? With an epidural? What about a c-section?” The answers are all pretty much the same: “One million dollars! Turn back now! Forget having kids!” – so question for ya: who in the hell could actually still have a kid? I mean myself, along with many of my friends, would not qualify to be wealthy enough.
The common saying is that there is never a “right” time to have kids. In my opinion, you will never have enough money to feel financially comfortable to have a kid. You could always have a little more cushion or a few more baby accessories, but the truth is, through my experience, I have realized that the financial aspect of having a kid is not the hardest part of being a parent. The financial side of being a parent is NOT the most important part. I will explain how I do it right now with a small budget, but at the end of the day – your kid does not care if they have a mansion or an iPad or a Barbie car or their own room, they want you to love them, they want you to engage with them, they want you to make them laugh so hard they pee their pants. Hell, when Zara is crying in the car seat, I throw back those coffee sleeves and she is in heaven – screw the teethers or the mobiles. Teach a kid how to play with Tupperware, and they will be playing for a lifetime (a Lexi proverb). Maybe I am just an optimist and when Zara goes to school she is going to come back complaining about all the material things she doesn’t have, but I would like to think that if I love her fiercely (and yes – I will mess this up some days) and give her the absolute best of myself that I can, that she will be just fine.
This is not at all to say that it isn’t a financial struggle. It really is, but it would be at any stage of life – maybe a little less, but I am making it work with the help of some amazing people. I hate asking for help. I really do – because to me, help used to mean that some sort of strings are attached or you are weak or you are incompetent. And what if you can’t repay those strings in money? Well, when you find out you are pregnant, and you are anyone, not just if you didn’t plan it, like me – you actually really need to ask for help. It is close to impossible to do motherhood by yourself. So, I have a whole plethora of people who have or are helping me figure this out. My grandma stayed with me so I could get back into school once I had Zara. My parents drove to my house on the weeks my grandma couldn’t be there, my sister worked from home once a week to help. My other sister bathed Zara almost every day this summer. My mom answers my many “WTF am I doing?!?!” calls almost every time. I can’t count how many people sent me hand-me downs or clothes, people cooked me meals, people donated their strollers, swings – all the things. I had people give me diapers to get through the first few months. Women are watching Zara for me during the weeks when I am at school and my parents are working for essentially free. I am staying with roommates who know my situation and do anything they can to help. Some women even pumped breast milk for me because sometimes the boobs just don’t want to cooperate. And crazy enough – the things I listed aren’t even everything that has been done for me.
So no, you probably can’t afford a kid, but if we all waited for the perfect moment to have a kid and feel comfortable financially and sane emotionally, there would be no kids (well, maybe there would be like 7 of them). But kids don’t want your money and I guarantee you, your kid won’t remember if they had the latest and greatest baby swing or the cutest baby outfit. (Side note: the cutest baby outfits are cute until you try to actually put them on the baby. Then it’s like just be naked forever sweet, flailing baby, you win). Zara wants to know if she is having a rough night, will I rock the hell out of her so she can feel safe and loved. She really wants me to do that stupid thing where I put the t-shirt over my head and let her pull it off a billion times because where did mom go and why is she so hilarious when I find her? But, in all seriousness, if you need help, ask for it, because good people will be willing to do what you need.
Which brings me to the end – the unexpected joys. Things are tough as a mom – you constantly wonder if you are screwing your kid up for life by the circumstances they are being raised in. You get tired and you might raise your voice or say something you didn’t mean. BUT, there are some things I never knew would be so cool. Watching someone discover things for the first time – like, have you ever seen someone discover that banging your hands together makes a noise for the first time? It is hilarious. It’s like they put their whole might into it. I love when Zara gets so tired she falls asleep on me (its seriously rare), but her little lips pout out and she just lets herself completely relax. I love how she kicks her legs like a dog wags its tail when they are excited. I love how much she is loved by other people, especially my parents. It’s funny thinking about the joys because my one of my all time favorite parts about Zara has been her hands. She has always had the most expressive hands whether she is princess waving without meaning to, grabbing my arm when she nursed, now grabbing my face when she takes a bottle, she even does a little wrist flick with her tiny little hands its hilarious. Annnnnnnd now I sound like a crazy obsessed mom. Still hate her poops! There we go.
If you want to hear anything specific about my story in a blog, let me know. I am happy to share – unfiltered version. Because there is a lot of stuff that happens that I didn’t know did, and would have been nice to know about in advance to pushing out a watermelon.