The Cost of Motherhood

Kids are costly. And I don’t just mean the diapers, clothes, toys and pediatrician co-pays. While all those tangible things can and do add up, what about the cost of everything else? Motherhood, it seems, comes with quite a price tag.

We pay a physical price. First comes pregnancy. The nausea, the achy boobs, the expanding belly. Sometimes the baby will even set up camp right on your sciatic nerve for a month (cough, first child, cough, cough) or cause you to develop raging eczema (ahem, second child).  Then there’s the birth and immediate aftermath – and whew, that’s a post unto itself. Slowly your body morphs out of the pregnancy zone, but even if you do lose the baby weight, things are never quite the same. Everything is just a bit softer and rests a little lower.

We pay a mental price. That part of our brains once reserved for remembering important details and engaging in intelligent conversation is gone, it seems. Every available neuron is now occupied with keeping alive these little creatures who seem to have no sense of self preservation whatsoever.

We pay an emotional price. Our patience is tested and our sanity shaken to its very core. We idly wonder how many sleepless nights we can endure before we start to lose it. Our dignity is gone – the shreds that survived the experience of childbirth itself are thoroughly disposed of during the toddler years. When you’re eating in a restaurant and your son is shouting for a fork, but his two year old lisp leaves out the all important “R,” you feel the last of it slip away as you slide down in your seat.

We pay a price in our relationships. Having kids does not make marriages stronger; rather, it tests them in ways you never imagined. Your friendships are placed on the backburner – a 20 minute phone conversation with your best friend is an impossible luxury; you settle for texts that average a 1/2 day minimum response time.

We pay a price in our careers. For those who leave altogether to stay at home – whether for a season or permanently – there are lost wages and benefits, and sometimes a lost sense of self for awhile, too, as the adjustment is made to a new normal. For those who stay at their jobs, there’s the price of competing priorities and the ever-present mom guilt.

When you tally it all up, it’s staggering, really. With all that they take from you (and take … and take), how can motherhood possibly be worth the cost?

The answer, I think, lies in the payments we receive – in toothless grins and sticky-handed bear hugs, in fistfuls of daffodils and after-bath snuggles, in overly-wet kisses and perfectly-lisped “I love yous.” In eyes that light up when you walk in the room and sweet-smelling heads that nod off against your shoulder. It’s when she says “mama” for the first time and when he promises, quite solemnly, “I’ll never get too old to snuggle with you, Mom.” These moments … they’re priceless, you see.

Suddenly, it doesn’t matter what it’s cost us. We’d pay it all again and then some, and still feel like we got the deal of a lifetime.

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