I once read an article that talked about the radical changes in parenting and child-rearing expectations over the past century, and the author used the financial terms of asset and investment to make her point. She said that since the beginning of history children have been viewed as assets, resources of immediate value and benefit. However, in this current society, the thinking has shifted to where children are now investments, something that we sink time and money into in hopes that it might be profitable in the future. In the past the mentality was “you’re living under my roof and eating my food so you will work on my farm and then take care of me when I’m old.” Now we invest into the best schools and tutors, extracurricular activities and sports teams, piano lessons and college funds, to develop a well-rounded individual who may one day repay us by being an adjusted, successful, and happy adult.
Perhaps this is where much of the stress of Baby Bunching comes from. If your children are assets, as your grandmother or great-grandmother believed, then the more you have the richer you are. But if your children are investments, then others (and even you yourself) begin to question how you will keep up with two under two or three under three. How can you possibly afford the time and money required to build up all these investments? How will you juggle three munchkins' soccer games in one day? How will you save up for rapidly escalating college costs?
Maybe both paradigms are slightly off, and maybe we’d all be happier Baby Bunchers if we viewed our children under a different financial term altogether: a gift. Something that we don’t deserve, something to enjoy. This idea was highlighted to me recently through two stories, one of my own, and one of a friend of a friend. The second is that of Eliot Mooney, a baby born with a genetic disorder who lived only 99 days. His story, seen on Oprah and other media outlets, gets its touching beauty from the attitudes of his parents, who viewed each day with him as a precious gift. My own story is that of my grandmother, who passed away last weekend. As I was looking through old, faded pictures of her and her children, I chuckled, thinking of how she would get the “you sure have your hands full” comment over and over if she had been a mother today. She was a Baby Buncher, then had twins, bumping it up to four under three. Three more children followed after, in fairly rapid succession. What was the key to her happy smiles, her joy with her brood? I know it was because she viewed each child not as an asset or an investment, but as a gift. There’s always room for one more, if we’re talking about gifts. And you don’t have to worry about devoting sufficient money and time into a gift, you just enjoy each day in perspective of the past and future.
Are concerns over your bunch’s future weighing heavy on you today? Do you wonder how they will ever measure up? Take the time to enjoy your little gifts, and know that the investment of making them feel significant, secure, and loved, is the best one you can make.
Rachel is a Baby Bunching mom of two little gifts, with one on the way. Pictured is her grandmother (center) with five of her seven children.