sticks, beads and strings
make wonderful, beautiful things

Maybe she doesn’t understand

So, at the family gathering on Sunday, as my aunt was preparing to leave, she informed that school started on such-and-such a day. And I told her we were already in school here. And she said: If you sent those kids to public school you could get rid of them and get yourself a break. For once, the Holy Ghost took over my mouth, and I said (pretty meekly for me, might I add) “If I wanted to get away from them, I wouldn’t keep having them.”

Now, my heart has been grieved over this for 5 days. Do ya’ll realize that my aunt said, in front of my children, that they were a burden I should be seeking to rid myself of?

Aunt Faye, this is for you, even though you will never read it, because you don’t even know I have a blog, and only see me and my children a handful of times per year, and only when the whole rest of the family is around.

The government recently calculated the cost of raising a child from birth to 18 and came up with $160,140 for a middle income family. Talk about sticker shock! That doesn’t even touch college tuition.

But $160,140 isn’t so bad if you break it down. It translates into:

* $8,896.66 a year,
* $741.38 a month, or
* $171.08 a week.
* That’s a mere $24.24 a day!
* Just over a dollar an hour.

Still, you might think the best financial advice is don’t have children if you want to be “rich.” Actually, it is just the opposite. 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, flying kites.
* Someone to laugh yourself silly with, no matter what the boss said or how your stocks performed that day.

For $160,140, 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,
* watching Saturday morning cartoons,
* going to Disney movies, and
* wishing on stars.
* You get to frame rainbows, hearts, and flowers under refrigerator magnets and collect spray painted noodle wreaths for Christmas, hand prints set in clay or Mother’s Day, and cards with backward letters for Father’s Day.

For $160,140, 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 to 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!!!!!!!

Another Aunt, on another side of the family called me this morning. She asked what I was doing, and I told her feeding the baby. She asked how old she was, and I said 6 months. Man, did her jaw hit the floor. They did not even know I had another baby. She was astounded at 8. Just flabbergasted. It occurs to me that I am so very richly blessed. God has chosen to withhold material wealth and prestige from me, for reasons of His own. I don’t need to know them, as I am certain they are valid. But He has blessed my with eternal wealth in my children. And this is the fact of that: When those people with money and degrees and fame die, their bodies will become dust, as will their achievements. I will become dust as well, bodily. But the gifts that God has given me will continue on into eternity. I get to take them with me where I go. (Of course, I hope I have to wait on them a good long time, don’t get panicked.) I’ll take the trade, and I think I have the far better deal.

So family: if you think I am wasting myself here with my children, loving and being loved in return–it is you who are really missing life. I am living it every day.

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