My son turned six years old today. When he was a baby, I took him and his older sister to the park. Things were fine for a while until something went south for him and he started crying in the determined, inconsolable manner that he had developed. As I left the park pushing the noisy two-seater stroller I began singing, “Lalala, lalala, no more crying babies–Lalala, lalala, no more crying babies.” While he had had sufficient time to develop a sense of criticism about many topics, music was not yet one of them, so the stroller quieted down. I remember thinking that one day I would not have any more crying babies.
That day has come. I have no more crying babies. I have no more toddlers. I don’t even have small children anymore–I just have children now. I’ve heard people say that kids grow up quickly. I haven’t found this to be the case. I have found, however, that the babies, the toddlers, the small children all go away, and, when they do, they don’t return. They don’t go quickly, but, when they do go, they’re really gone. They don’t come back. They become something else.
Today on the radio there was a discussion about childcare. The details aren’t important. What struck me is that no one seemed to want to address the core issues, namely Should the poor breed? If not, who should prevent us (and how?)? If yes, how can we afford to raise our young? My wife and I postponed having children for over a decade because we never felt we had enough money. Then, finally, we felt we did. We both had decent jobs and decided to start a family and get a new car. So we did, and then the recession started and I lost my job and my career. Eventually, at $2500/month for childcare for two kids, I couldn’t justify working the kind of jobs that I could get. But, neither could we get by very well on just my wife’s income. I don’t think we were the only ones in that position. It seems that for many people, the days of raising a family on one income are gone. So, the question is, Is it responsible for the working poor to have children? Is procreation now only justifiable for the wealthy?
I hope not. I have a wonderful wife that I’ve been married to for over twenty years and two great kids who are having a happy childhood. Life hasn’t really worked out the way I wanted it to. But, when things are bad, I try to focus on what I do have–a great family. And I’m grateful for that.