Up & Coming Weekly

August 26, 2014

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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Page 5 of 24

AUG. 27 - SEPT. 2, 2014 UCW 5 WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM Every family has insider sayings used among each other, and when I was a young child, my parents and I exchanged this as one or both of them tucked me into bed. "I love you more than a million." It made perfect sense to the young me. I knew a million was a lot more of anything than I could conceive of at that point, and it did not bother me in the least that no one ever mentioned more than a million what. I, of course, said the same thing to my own Precious Jewels who reacted just the way I had a generation before. They smiled and felt secure in the nest of family. Little did I know then that with three Jewels, those millions we so casually tossed around could well be counted in cold hard dollars. Every parent eventually comes down with sticker shock, but that realization comes on gradually. In Precious Jewel number one's baby file is a receipt from Cape Fear Valley Hospital for $25, the price we paid after insurance and not counting doctors' fees to spring our Jewel from the newborn nursery. The other costs — diapers, day care, lots of clothes — kicked in soon enough, but we were probably too thrilled and nervous to take it all in. Two more Jewels followed and they probably cost more than $25, but I do not remember all that. What I do remember is that we had to buy a bigger house which cost far more than $25. I also remember that the expenses just kept coming, and that significant juggling was often in order to keep the family financial ship sailing a straight course. What is more, it gets more complicated and more expensive as they grow. There are school supplies, after school activities and lessons, trips —educational and otherwise, birthdays for them and their friends, sporting gear, holidays and the less fun necessities like medical insurance. That certainly came in handy for Precious Jewel Number One's 350 stitches and plastic surgery following a car accident on the way home from elementary school. I can hardly even think about the combined 12 years of college and 5 years of graduate school that followed. Please do not misunderstand. I would walk across red hot nails for my Jewels, but they were not inexpensive. None of them are. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has just released its annual projection of the cost of raising a child born in 2013. An average middle class family will spend about $245,000 on a child between birth and 18. When that figure is adjusted for inflation as the child grows up, it will be closer to $305,000. Middle class is defined here as families with annual incomes between $62,000 and $107,000. Wealthier families will spend more, an average of $408,000. None of those numbers includes the cost of college. The good news — sort of — is that child-raising is slightly less expensive in rural areas and in the South, generally speaking, and that families with three or more children spend less per child than smaller families. I am not convinced of that myself, but it is true that hand-me-downs of clothes, toys, books, bikes, and such are great inventions, at least for the parents. All of this is fluid, of course. For example, when the USDA projected these costs in 1960, child-care was barely an issue. Moms were either at home, or the children stayed with relatives or friends while she worked. Commercial day care was still in the future, and who knows what goods and services will be wanted, needed or demanded by the next generations of families. Nevertheless, no one can argue that children are not expensive, and responsible parents go into their roles planning for their children's futures. Nor can anyone argue that deciding to have children is a financial decision. Money may be a component, but in our deepest hearts, having children is an expression of love for our partners and for the children we want to bring into the world. It is a commitment that will last until we draw our last breaths, one which will bring us great joy, paralyzing terror, sleepless nights, hilarious laughter, humbling disappointment and the deepest bonds human beings can share. My Precious Jewels are long gone from our nest and into their own. Were lots of dollars expended on them? Yes. Do they still bring me both joy and laughter? Yes. Do they still drive me crazy at times? Yes. Would I do it all over again? Yes, yes, a thousand times yes! No matter what the USDA says, children are a part of life that really is not about the money. Million Dollar Babies by MARGARET DICKSON MARGARET DICKSON, Contributing Writer, COMMENTS? Editor@upandcom- ingweekly.com.. 910.484.6200. THIS WEEK WITH MARGARET Serving Fayetteville Over 50 Years! 484-0261 1304 Morganton Rd. Mon-Sat: 6am-10pm Sun: 7am-2:30 pm Daily Specials • Breakfast • Lunch • Dinner Fresh Seafood • Hand Cut Steaks • Homemade Desserts • Italian & Greek • Children's Menu Banquet rooms available up to 100 guests Contest&RequestLine: 910-764-1073 www.christian107.com KeepingtheMainThing...theMainThing. visit us online Focus on the Family 20 Countdown Magazine Adventures in Odyssey No one can argue that children are not expensive.

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