"Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children."—Charles R. Swindoll
When my monthly childcare bill and apartment rent surpassed my monthly take-home pay, I lived in panic mode. I worried, How will I provide for my sons? When Kristoffer entered first grade, I couldn't afford school clothes.
Laurie, my babysitter and dear friend, gave me the clothes her son, Scott, outgrew. As winter approached, I couldn't afford a winter coat for Kristoffer.
Years before, my grandmother bought coat lining and I'd purchased navy blue corduroy on sale. Perfect compliments for Kristoffer's new bomber jacket. I stayed up all night sewing a coat, finishing it at dawn, just in time to drive him to school in his new, warm coat.
I found it very painful to overcome my guilt and expectations that I couldn't give my sons more opportunities and things that only money can buy. I wish I'd spent less time allowing money stresses to drain me emotionally and more time thanking God for his provision. Looking back, we survived, thrived, and clung to God's promises.
Single parents often grieve about what they can't give their children, instead of focusing on what we can provide: a strong work ethic, a 'can-do' attitude, and trust in God's ability to meet our needs.
The Price of Children
Single parents worry about the cost of raising a child. Why? It's expensive to raise a child alone, especially without the benefit of child support. The United States Department of Agriculture released the report "Expenditures on Children by Families, 2007" which estimated expenditures two-parent and single-parent families spent on children from birth through age 17. When you look at the cost for single parents—$140,520—it seems insurmountable. And those six figures don't include a college education.
But what does "the cost of raising a child" look like when divided equally by 18 years?
- $7806.66 a year (my yearly childcare costs were more than this figure)
- $650.56 a month
- $162.64 a week
- $21.83 a day
- Barely a dollar an hour
The Rewards of Raising Children
And exactly what did I receive for my $140,520 investment?
- naming rights: first, middle, and last
- glimpses of God every day
- lots of kisses, hugs and laughs
- more love than my heart ever dreamed it could experience
- endless wonder over rocks, bugs, clouds, video games, and Lego® creations
- someone to come home to everyday that loved me
For $140,520, I enjoyed childish pleasures. I
- climbed trees
- carved pumpkins
- colored Easter eggs
- found escaped snakes lost in my house
I didn't need an excuse to
- watch Dumbo at least 122 times
- read Green Eggs and Ham more times than I could count
- watch Disney movies
- wish on stars
I treasure my sons'
- school art projects
- handmade Christmas decorations
- handprints set in plaster
- painted handprints on sweat shirt
- handmade cards for holidays
I was a hero for
- retrieving my sons safely off the roof
- taking the training wheels off a bike
- removing splinters and bumblebee stingers
- buying nails by the pounds to build a tree house
- coaching my son's basketball team, even though I didn't understand the rules
For a $21.83 a day, there is no greater bang for the hard-earned, single-parent buck. In the eyes of a child (before puberty), I ranked right up there with God. I
- made boo-boos better with kisses and Superman Band-Aids
- calmed scary nightmares
- soothed broken hearts
- policed slumberless parties
- grounded my sons for bad choices
- loved them unconditionally
I received a front row seat in history to witness
- stitches, stitches and more stitches
- boys, toys, dogs, and frogs
- graduation from preschool
- graduation from kindergarten
- graduation from middle school
- graduation from high school
- graduation from basic training
- graduation from special forces school
- graduation from special forces survival training
- my first born's first born
Along the way my sons and I obtained educations in:
- life's ups and downs
- house remodeling
- car repair
- and God's provision
I love my sons with all my heart and passed my values onto them. Now it's their turn to count the cost of loving—sacrificially, unconditionally—no matter what surprises life springs on them.