cutey Theo

Motherhood and Money

May 28, 2007, 0 Comments

Motherhood and money are seldom best mates. Everything cost more than one expects.

Yesterday the utility bills came in for the month of April-May, a whooping $200, a far cry from the usual $60 – gas, electricity and water combined. We made a wild guess before we got the bill, the figure was close yet we couldn’t have prepared ourselves for it. Diapers cost us an average $25 per week, it has been by far the most expensive items for the household, not counting the number of years my baby would need to be wearing one, break it down further to weeks and days and we would have accumulated enough to buy an insurance policy to see him through half of his education.

36 breast pads that cost an average of $8 for 2 weeks, breast milk is free at least and I intend to continue breastfeeding till he is at least 6months old. Confinement service cost another whooping $2300++ & hospital bills $4000++. We had spent almost $10K in one month.

I pulled out a telephone bill while breastfeeding the other day from inside a page of a book. It was the only piece of paper within reach, stuck in a I can’t-go-anywhere-else breastfeeding position as I fan my very warm baby. It was a year 2002 telephone bill stuck in a book. The bill was $400++consisting mainly of calls made to South Africa while my then boyfriend, now husband & I are on a long distance relationship. Then, even a monthly $400 bill didn’t feel like much. Funny it was stuck in this book entitled “multiple streams of income”. Was I thinking of making some extra money then in 2002 as I am thinking about it right now?

I concede what parenthood reveal in ourselves. No one, no books nor classes could prepare us for this. The package deal of an ultimate bundle of joy does not really come with instructional warnings of colicky evenings, sore nipples, engorged breasts, fatigue, short fuse, and cultural clashes with lived-in in laws. Not accustomed to old wives tales, I suddenly turned victim to well-meaning relatives who chided me on what shoulds and what nots. Panda-eyed and worn physically, I could only nod weakly while patience wore thin saved for another weak rebuttal that was misintepreted as rebellion.

It was like a game which I lost at every match. Outwardly I display a manner of calm, probably from lack of sleep and energy, inwardly I manifest defeat, sometimes self-pity, guilt, anxiety, helplessness, and oh indecisiveness! Should I engage help? should I work as a full time mommy? Would I have enough money? Why is baby colicky? When is he growing up? The search for God became as desperate as my baby’s call for milk when he’s hungry. You should have seen the look in his eyes when he is hungry! Difference is he gets it there and then, while my search continues, sometimes deep into my sleep as I nod off in tears.

2am past midnite, to my horror my EBM was only less than 20ml. Has my milk dried up overnight? Is there enough milk for baby tomorrow? What happens to my perfect plan of breasfeeding him till 6months? I sent off an urgent email to my lactation consultant. Turns out I was fully exhausted that day. My milk supply kicked in the next day after I regained my beauty sleep. What a false alarm.

We lived in worlds of idealism where money became THE way to attaining our dreams. Expecting the baby, we went from zero knowledge of baby & baby products to savvy buyers. Credit goes to hundreds of advises from friends, professionals and websites– we got the best stroller, best clothes, best material, best bottles, best bottle sterilizer, best crib, best bath-tub, best diapers, best rash prevention cream, best methodology, best lactation consultant, the list goes on.

After the baby arrive – our world turned upside down. I stood at the window late one night, staring at the traffic lights in the streets as they turned from one colour to another. I swear I saw it changed a million times; red, green, amber, red, green, amber. God spoke in his gentle voice into my panic-striken heart, money cannot buy breastmilk. I need to depend on him, and for everything else I need to depend on him. At that moment, God knows I could kill for breastmilk. And for the love of my baby he had slowly became my idol.

It wasn’t so much of what money cannot do, it was that we didn’t consider God in all of these. And like everything else in life that we are learning, sometimes it is important to unlearn something to learn. It is time to make a U-turn. What parenthood taught us, money cannot buy.

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