• Parenting from Pop's POV

Bad Math

It’s a good idea to the run numbers. That’s what the Seafood Manager at Whole Foods thinks, anyway. I was there with Luke (21 months) and this guy made a gutted rainbow trout perform a short song-and-dance routine. It was a huge hit, and made clear we were comrades.

We chatted for a bit – he’s got a three year old and I mentioned we also had a four year old.

“Yeah,” he said, “I’d like to have a sibling for my guy, but we’re just not financially there yet. You have another kid, suddenly you gotta work twice as much. So you never see ‘em. Not worth it.”

Though I’ve heard competing arguments (“Love finds a way!” “You have the family you’re meant to have!”), there’s no question this kind of planning is incredibly prudent. One of the hardest things about being a parent is enjoying every minute of it. You won’t, you can’t. But you try. You have to try. But you’re tired, the kids try to grind you down – you really got to put your back into it. Add to this more work than you can handle and you’re setting yourself up to miss more than you already do.

This got me thinking, however, on how trying to run other math on kids is impossible. Not the financial math, but a personal balance sheet.

Like, babies are pure light and magic but you’re so sleep deprived that it makes your legs ache.

Like, your child is wonderful and curious and full of life and he fills every waking moment you have together with questions and needs and joys and terrors so that your mind is never still and left to meander in that weird way it used to.

Or take Chicago, that old city of our youth, our courtship. We were young and vibrant there. The days were ours, mine, stretched out in that thin Midwestern light forever in every direction.

We visit Chicago now and it’s the quiet suburb of our childhood replayed in Technicolor for our children. We ride them down our old streets, they play at our old parks. We manage bedtimes and plan morning activity.

It seems like you should be able to run the numbers on that, ascertain if one Chicago is more valuable than the other and by how much. But of course you can’t. These things don’t figure against one another.

So you’re left holding both, knowing that love will find a way, and that you have the family you’re meant to have.

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