Fatherhood Adventures

My email inbox can be pretty discouraging these days. It’s reflective of all the gloom and doom in our country.

The subject lines invariably touch on many of the issues dominating headlines everywhere. Some I received the other day included in the subject lines, “free financial guidance for the middle class”, “how to survive a foreclosure”, “how to rebuild your 401K and mutual fund after you lost everything”, “sell your gold and turn it into a mortgage payment” and “starting over at 60? we can help.”

That’s why I almost looked past a recent email subjected, “The Price of Children,” forwarded by fellow father Mark Paddack. Figuring it was an attempt to finance or even sell my child somehow, I reluctantly opened it up and was reminded again why it’s dangerous to make assumptions.

It was interesting and I felt the content was worthy of passing along here. It’s basically a warm and fuzzy email on how the costs associated with raising a child are far outweighed by the other benefits.

The email cites a recent study that calculates the average cost of raising a child from birth to 18 years of age as approximately $160,140 for a middle-income family. It was interesting that this figure breaks down to $8,896 a year, $741 a month, $171 a week, $24.24 a day and just over $1 an hour.

I admit I had sticker shock when I first heard that number, but it’s actually a realistic figure when it’s broken down to a weekly level. Here’s some excerpts of the email:

“What do you get for your $160,140?”

— Naming rights. First, middle, and last;
— Glimpses of God every day;
— Giggles under the covers every night;
— More love than your heart can hold;
— Butterfly kisses and Velcro hugs;
— Endless wonder over rocks, ants, clouds, and warm cookies;
— A hand to hold usually covered with jelly or chocolate;
— A partner for blowing bubbles and flying kites; and

— Someone to laugh yourself silly with, no matter what the boss said or how your stocks performed that day.

For $160,140.00, you never have to grow up. You get to:
— finger-paint;

— carve pumpkins;

— play hide-and-seek;
— catch lightning bugs; and
— never stop believing in Santa Claus.
You have an excuse to:
— keep reading the Adventures of Piglet and Pooh;
— watch Saturday morning cartoons;
— go to Disney movies; and
— wish on stars.
For a mere $24.24 a day, there is no greater bang for your buck. You get to be a hero just for:
— retrieving a Frisbee off the garage roof;
— taking the training wheels off a bike;
— removing a splinter;
— filling a wading pool;
— coaxing a wad of gum out of bangs; and

— coaching a baseball team that never wins but always gets treated to ice cream regardless.

You get a front row seat in history to witness the:

— First step;
— First word;
— First bra;
— First date; and
— First time behind the wheel.

You get to be immortal. You get another branch added to your family tree, and if you’re lucky, a long list of limbs in your obituary called grandchildren and great grandchildren. You get an education in psychology, nursing, criminal justice, communications, and human sexuality that no college can match.

In the eyes of a child, you rank right up there under God. You have all the power to heal a boo-boo, scare away the monsters under the bed, patch a broken heart, police a slumber party, ground them forever, and love them without limits, so one day they will, like you, love without counting the cost. That is quite a deal for the price.

The email continues with more warm and fuzzy stuff, but I must admit in a day when some people are losing their homes, unable to pay their bills and seeing their debt ballooning to scary levels, it’s refreshing to take two minutes and read something like this. A year ago, I would not have taken the time, but these days it’s all about the new perspective.

Let’s face it: life is tough these days. Everywhere I look people are struggling. One day this week I did not have one conversation with someone who did not comment on the concerning state of their own financial affairs. Across the country and right here on Main Street in Berlin, businesses are closing their doors for good. They can’t make it. On the rare occasion that I hear some good news, like when I ran into Paul Corbett of Fager’s Island fame the other night and he reported a great New Year’s sales stretch for the business, I get excited and encouraged.

When things look gloomy, as they do on certain days, my little boy shows me the big picture and opens my eyes. His innocence gives me hope and reminds me how fortunate I am in many ways. He represents all the good things in life that can be overlooked at times. There’s nothing quite like walking in the house after a rough day and scooping up a smiling baby boy who wants nothing more to take hold of my nose in one hand, a lip in another and pull me in close for a laugh and giggle. That’s truly “priceless” to me.

About The Author: Steven Green

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The writer has been with The Dispatch in various capacities since 1995, including serving as editor and publisher since 2004. His previous titles were managing editor, staff writer, sports editor, sales account manager and copy editor. Growing up in Salisbury before moving to Berlin, Green graduated from Worcester Preparatory School in 1993 and graduated from Loyola University Baltimore in 1997 with degrees in Communications (journalism concentration) and Political Science.