Parenting Cents

I just finished reading an outraged editorial by a new mother, who, in turn, had just finished reading an editorial by a woman who dared talk cents about parenting. (I realize this would flow better if I knew either woman?s name, but unfortunately the newspaper ended up under our bladder challenged Shitzu before I could find out which kid made off with the good scissors.)

The cents talking woman had the nerve to write that being a parent is expensive. An average of $235,000 per child expensive. Or to put it in terms a tired mother might understand, 50 all inclusive cruises expensive. Per child.

The new mother reacted in typical new mother fashion. She came out snarling and dripping spit up like a she-lion. How dare something as rewarding as parenthood be reduced to mere nickels and dimes! Why, when she looked into the angelic face of her newborn, she didn?t care if it cost a million dollars to raise her baby. No amount of money could buy the happiness she had found through giving birth. No bank balance could make her feel this complete. How can you even compare 50 all inclusive cruises, to the lifetime joy of being a mother?

Let?s try.

Fifty cruises works out to one all inclusive a year per child for almost your entire adult life. One child makes you a mother for the rest of your life. On a cruise you get to stretch out on a deck chair while a muscular young man named Henrik serves you bubble gum martinis. As a mother you get to learn the fascinating art of using butter to remove bubble gum from your child?s hair. Which doesn?t work. It only gives you something to do until your child remembers where he put the good scissors. On a cruise your biggest worry is putting on weight from being served 14 meals a day. As a parent you worry at least 14 times a day.

Patricia Rashbrook, a child psychiatrist, is almost eight months pregnant. What makes this noteworthy is that Patricia is 63 years old. When reporters clamoured for an interview about the impending birth, Rashbrook and her husband John Farrant, 61, issued a joint statement, saying: ?We wish to emphasize that this has not been an endeavour undertaken lightly or without courage. A great deal of thought has been given to planning and providing for the child?s present and future well being, medically, socially and materially.?

Note their use of the word ?materially.? By the time their baby is ready for college, he will be measuring the parent?s room in anticipation of their departure, instead of the other way around. Which makes sense in a horrible, cold and calculating, sort of way. Think about it. Who needs an inheritance or a mortgage-free home more? A person in their 60?s or a person in their 20?s?

If we all had children in our 60?s we could devote our youth to other things. Like Henrick and bubble gum martinis. Our youth wouldn?t have to be spent hunting down the good scissors or doing surgery on the toilet to remove a pound of Lego. Instead of pacing the floors with a colicky infant, we could be using that energy to go backpacking across the world.

Then, when we have had all the fun and excitement our bodies can stand, we would spend our Golden years making babies to take over when we?re gone. It?s practically poetic. When a spruce tree gets old and stressed, that?s when it starts producing pine cones. Not when it?s young and green.

Both parents would be retired, so there wouldn?t be any tension over balancing a full time job with the pressures of having children. No need for daycare or after school baby-sitters. Better yet, if you had kids in your 60?s, by the time they?re adults, you wouldn?t have to worry about them anymore, because, conveniently enough, you?d be dead. It?s a marvelous – albeit incredibly selfish – plan. You get to enjoy them when they?re little, go deaf and senile when they?re teenagers and expire just when the big worries start.

As the pillow sampler says, ?If I knew having Grandchildren would be so much fun, I would have had them first.? Well, thanks to fertility technology, now you can.

Shannon McKinnon is a syndicated humour columnist and a happy mother of two. She has never been on a cruise.