There have been a couple of conversations in the past two weeks or so where I didn’t say what I wanted to say.
The other day, a co-worker asked me “Do you know what day care for an infant costs?”
He and his wife are both computer professionals, been married for a couple of years, and are expecting their first child in about six weeks. He explained that his wife had found a “really great day care” for their soon to be born son, but she had neglected to ask about the price.
What I should have said:
Day care will cost you the peace of your home. After you both get back from a long day at work, neither of you will have the energy to cook, clean, and take care of your baby. Babies take a lot of work, even after the _generous_ six week maternity leave expires. Some kids don’t sleep through the night for quite a while, although some people have success with Gary Ezzo‘s How To Alienate and Physically and Emotionally Starve Your Child God’s Way. (OK, OK, it’s really “Growing Kids God’s Way”, but my title is more accurate I think. And the link goes to an anti-Ezzo web site.) One of you is going to have to take care of that crying baby at 3 am, and you won’t have the option of sleeping in a little the next morning or taking a nap in the afternoon. You’ll both be off at work. And you won’t have the energy and patience you need.
Day care will cost you in terms of you relationship with your son. Relationships are built through time together, and in no other way. There’s a reason that babies love their mommies, and it isn’t because she picks him up from day care every day, or spends some quality time with him when she doesn’t have to go to work. That relationship is built between a mommy and a baby because she holds him, nurses him, changes his diapers, plays with him, and rocks him to sleep. His world is very tiny. He needs food, to be cuddled and played with, and to be clean. Mommy is supposed to fill his world those first few years, and she can’t do that in a cubicle. Nursing pretty much fixes a baby’s whole world. He’s warm, fed, and held. Other than a dirty diaper, there’s not much else besides illness that can go wrong in his world. The relationship between a mother and her baby is a truly awesome thing, and it cannot develop when the majority of their waking hours are spent apart. Your son will bond with a stranger who you pay to care for him. Or maybe he will bond with no one at all.
Day care will cost your wife her femininity. A mother’s sphere is home and hearth. That’s how God designed her, biologically and emotionally. Women are the fairer, gentler, more tender sex. That roof and those walls are there to shelter her from more than just the elements. They provide a calm, safe, orderly place, almost entirely under her control, where she can make a home. When she is pried from there and thrust into the world, she cannot function as she is designed to. See Proverbs 31, 1 Timothy 5:9-10, 14, Titus 2:3-5, and 1 Peter 3:1-7.
Day care will cost you your masculinity. You were designed to subdue the earth, and lead your family, with your wife as your helper. If you have to hire another woman to care for your kids, because you are _unwilling_ to provide for your family and protect your wife from the rigors of the workplace (or to make the lifestyle changes necessary so you’re _able_ to), there’s just not a whole lot left in my book. Being the head of your family is functional as well as positional.
All that, and about a hundred dollars per week. That’s right, caring for children is rewarded at the rate of twenty bucks a day. It costs more than that to have someone mow your grass. The two of you can’t eat a meal at a decent restaurant for $20, but you can have the burden of childcare taken care of.
That’s what I should have said. But all I did was hunt on the internet for a minute and tell him “about a hundred bucks a week”. He thought that was pretty reasonable. I wonder, if I’d told him the rest of what it cost, would he think it was so reasonable?
[Next will be what I wanted to say when someone was talking about sending their kids off to school. BTW, comments are disabled for this post, on purpose, because I don’t want to get into it. If this man’s situation is not your situation, then remember that this is what I wanted to tell _him_. Maybe I would tell you something different. Or maybe not.]