Feb 18, 2008

Having Kids... a 24 Year Old Gal Ponders the Cost and The Timeline

I'm only 24 years old. My body is slowly deprecating into womanhood. In fact, once upon a time I'd be in middle age right now. Except in modern society, 24 isn't quite "that old" yet.

Still, my babymaking clock is ticking. (Do you hear it -- "tick, tock. tick, tock.") A few years ago if you asked me about the possibility of my having a family, I'd say yea, one day. Like a zillion million light years down the road.

But how long can one really wait to have kids and a family? Is it even really that important to have kids?

Speaking in simple terms of evolution, it's quite normal to want to have kids. Heck, I should be wanting to pop out babies every change I can get from now through menopause.

The truth is, with my undoubted infertility problems (thanks PCOS!) the cost of simply getting pregnant/ having a kid is going to be very high for me. I'll either need expensive fertility treatments that may or may not work, or I'll have to adopt. Both of these options are expensive. It's just like, great, take something that should be free (semen in, baby out) and make it cost a fortune before I even can so much can justify purchasing a pregnancy test.

Without all of that extra expense, having kids, well, is quite the expense. How much does one kid cost? You've got to feed them, clothe them, house them, bathe them, pay for school supplies, parties, hobbies, potentially college, etc etc. That sounds very expensive. Of course, lots of people just accept that having a kid is a worthwhile investment. Not to get money in return, but to get years of "awws" and "ooohs" and "that's my son/daughter!" But how much is all that really worth?

You can have kids at any income level or age (if you can pop them out without needing expensive treatments to get pregnant in the first place.) Plenty of people have kids who live on welfare. Plenty of people have kids who are in the upper class, who can give their kids tons of money and not think twice about it. Plenty of people who have kids are in the middle class, and they get by with minimal luxuries and mostly just what they need.

I grew up with such a bizarre concept of family and money. My dad made a good salary, my mom stayed at home. We lived an upper middle class life. My parents had two kids, me and my younger sister. We never bought expensive things, but we did buy lots of things. There was never a concern about not having money to put food on the table, or to buy new clothes for the season. I was lucky. I didn't realize just how lucky I was.

Would I want to have kids if I couldn't give them that? Could I be selfless enough to bring another person into this world knowing just how much they'd cost me? I'd have to get better health insurance for my kids, or would I? I couldn't have catastrophic health insurance with a child... though that's better than no health insurance at all that many people deal with. How much money would I really need to make, over the long term, to feel comfortable popping out a baby or two?

I have friends who had kids years ago, or who are just starting families. One friend from high school just got his girlfriend pregnant accidentally, and they're moving out of the city to the burbs and are planning on having her parents help them support the family.

Another friend of mine is in her mid 30s. She kind of wants to have kids, she makes a pretty good income, upper middle classish, but hasn't found the right guy yet. Or at least she hasn't found the right guy who wants to date her back, sadly. She knows that at this point in her life, she's either going to have kids soon or not have them at all. She tries to laugh it off, but deep down I think she's sad about it.

I know some people in their 30s who just don't want kids. Some are in stable relationships, some are married and have just decided - no children. What does it feel like to make that decision and make it so finally?

I've mentioned before how my ex boyfriend is a well-to-do attorney and how sometimes I wonder what it would be like to have stayed in that relationship and lived... that life. What it would be like to know that unless something terrible happened to the country and the overall economy, I'd be financially secure until I die, and I could have kids and they'd have a good life, regardless of how much money I made personally.

Back before my time, that's all a girl could even ask for. But now we have choice. We have freedom. And that's great. I'm glad. I'd rather be with a guy I love than one making good money. But it's tough when the choice is actually there. When the guy making the money still likes you. When you like him back too, but only as a friend.

It's not like my current boyfriend isn't working. That was the case for a while and after a year of dating an unemployed guy it started to get to me. It wasn't even the money that was an issue, it was the sheer depression keeping him out of getting a job. While my previous boyfriend worked all the time and wanted to make a lot of money, and save it, my current boyfriend just wanted to live at home, somewhat frugally, until his savings ran out. Both lifestyles kind of drove me nuts.

But now my boyfriend has a job. He's doing a good job with working and I'm sure he'll do fine. He's likely going to return to grad school for education and end up teaching at a high school. I'm confident if he is "the one" (and I think he might be) that without kids, we'd both live a very comfortable life given our expected middle class income. When I start thinking about having kids, well, that's when I get worried.

I always wanted to have three kids. I thought that would be a good amount. My dad grew up in a large family (6 siblings including him) and I loved how that later on created such a tight-knit extended family. I don't want six kids (oy!) but 3 would do. I don't want a kid to grow up alone, and one sibling is nice but often not enough. Three is perfect. Except, oh my god, how much would three kids cost me?



3 comments:

Kacie said...

This will be a great post for you to come back and reread over the years.

I'm not quite to the "omgomg I need to be pregnant NOW" phase, but I see it looming (I'll be 23 in June, btw).

I know you didn't ask for advice or anything, but I'm going to toss some out there. Since you mentioned possible fertility issues, maybe consider not using hormonal birth control, if you use it at all.

I know studies have not shown that birth control can make it harder to get pregnant, but with so many women seeming to have trouble with it as they get older, I have to wonder. Just an idea.

I think I'd like 3 kids, too, but I might be OK with more, even. They'll be expensive, but I think the most expensive will be the first. With the second and more, I'll have all the necessary baby furniture and a bunch of baby items already. Plus, I'll know which "necessary" baby items aren't actually that necessary.

I know it'll be expensive, but I don't think it'll be all that bad.

Anyway, thanks for taking the time to share all of your thoughts on the matter.

Best wishes with it all!

stackingpennies said...

Depreciating? You make it sounds so sad! Twenty four is still quite young.

This is why I save so much now--someday I'll probably have to be less selfish and spend on the kids.

Anyway, I am 25 and still don't have baby lust. Marriage lust, perhaps... but kids? No way.

I liked this entry though. Here is an interesting article: www.theatlantic.com/doc/200803/single-marry

I don't agree... but interesting

MEG said...

I'm also 24 and so NOT wanting to have kids anytime soon. But then I don't have any known fertility problems. I also DON'T want to wait until I'm 35 and risk not being able to get pregnant at all.

I do want to have a family eventually. I think all the money and career satisfaction in the world probably pales in comparison to creating and nurtuting a family (not that I plan to give UP a career and money - I plan to have both).

That's why I save and invest so aggressively now. I just want to make sure I have options later. I do realize I'm not ready to have kids yet because I still worry that I'd resent them for taking away all my discretionary income, free time, fun nights out, etc. I want to spend my $$ on myself for a few years!

However I think when/if I find a man I want to have a family with, I won't even hesitate. It won't be about the cost of kids; it'll be about creating our family. If I don't ever feel like that, I won't have 'em.

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