Friday, August 12, 2011

Common Responses to the Size of Our Family

Here are two of the most common responses I receive when people hear we will be welcoming our seventh child in September.

"Did you say second or seeeeventh?"

"Are you crazy? Don't you realize how much that costs?"

"How are you going to pay for all of their college?"

The first response always makes me laugh. The other two always make me think.

Are we crazy? Maybe a little.... but in a good way ;)

Do we realize how much it costs? Heck yeah!

Stern and I have this philosophy: 

Children are as expensive as you make them.

That being said, here's what I mean.

My children have never had fancy. Is that because we couldn't or can't afford it? Well, that's debatable. Stern and I have chosen not to do fancy. Sometimes it was hard, especially when my children were all young. When I saw friends doting over their children I wondered if I was doing it right, or if I should be buying more "things" for my kids. Were they missing out because we didn't pay for cable? Were they electronically ignorant because we had the same television I watched cartoons on as a kid. You know, the kind you had to get up off the couch and turn a knob to change the channel.

Once that TV was replaced and subsequently stolen, were they missing out because we didn't rush out to buy a newer, bigger television? I really struggled with this one. My idea of people who didn't have television lived in Idaho City and guarded their food storage with guns. Was that me?

As my children grew we continued to buy them clothing at second-hand stores (with the exception of winter gear for Alaska which was purchased every year in February from REI at their huge clearance sale). Were my children the hippest in the neighborhood? Probably not.

We buy used cars to be used. We buy used lawnmowers, tools, furniture, etc. to be used by the children. If they break it, they can replace it.

Here's the kicker: they work, they earn money, and they buy things themselves. They pay for their own cell phones (phone, activation, & monthly fees). If they're too young to pay for all of that then they don't have a cell phone.

Lastly, how will we pay for their college?

We aren't going to pay for their college.

No one paid for our college. No one paid for our student loans. We sucked it up, worked hard, pulled up our boot straps and paid it. By doing so we realized we could pay off anything... on any income, if we lived well within our means. Stern didn't need to earn more. I needed to just spend less.

There is a difference between wants and needs.

If I have learned anything having this many children it is that what they "want" is our time and what they "need" is shelter, food, clothing, and the love of their family.

I can honestly say I wouldn't change a thing.