Not Having Children Is Letting Us Have It All

Last year, my husband and I cracked the $100,000 income barrier, a mark my parents didn’t hit until they were well into their 40s—at least, I think they didn’t. I suppose all those trips they took to food pantries when I was a kid could have simply been a cover, masking my family’s secret hidden wealth.

Our combined $102,000 puts us just into the top 20 percent of households in the country, according to U.S. Census data. We are indisputably comfortably well-off, solidly lower-upper- or higher-middle-class depending on your point of view. While we don’t spend much (we’re too weighed down by crazy levels of student debt and a lifetime of habits learned from practicing the art of paying off one credit card with another) I no longer stress out too much about buying new shoes or an extra round of drinks.

I even find myself wandering the mall near my house sometimes knowing I can afford to shop, but not sure I’m capable of buying my way out of my problems or where in the spectrum of mass retail therapy I fall—not quite yet J. Crew, but long past Forever 21.

We did nothing particularly brilliant to get to this point. Both of us work, though no harder than most, and we’ve been lucky, though no more so than many. We went to good schools and graduated with good grades. But, so did my parents. And malls, for them, were just places with free air-conditioning.

And then there’s this: We don’t have kids.

I grew up poor. That was always simply a fact, and one likely brought on by my existence. It wasn’t an exciting, bohemian, Rent-style poor or a social-worker-involved, drug-addled, abusive Precious poor. It was just two working-parents-hovering-near-the-poverty-line poor.

The truth is that my sister and I barely noticed. My parents worked hard to take us to museums on free days and bring us to plays where they were working. They taught us extra math lessons and made us write history reports during summer vacation, so we wouldn’t fall behind, as poor kids tend to do.

My dad was an actor, but chasing dreams doesn’t pay bills (how’s that for a lesson internalized?). When he played a character at Disney World, we got to go to Disney World. When he drove a taxi, we sat in the front seat. And when he delivered pizza, we were treated to leftover pizzas. It was everything you would want a childhood to be: filled with all the things money can’t buy. But, it would have taken someone more self-assured than I was to notice that the other kids didn’t get their school check-ups at free clinics.

I knew we were poor, just as I knew my birth had been an accident. It was never a secret, largely because you don’t even need basic math skills to know no one plans to attend college graduation nine months pregnant. My mom sat in the stands and watched her classmates march across the stage, because the heat and crowds were too much for a pregnant 22-year-old. And, besides, I could have come into the world in between commencement speeches.

My parents graduated from good state colleges and had big plans to get out of these small towns, to make it. They met while working at an outdoor summer theater in Texas and I was born the next June.

They struggled post-college, I’m sure, like so many people we know now or are now, to figure out what they should do and who they should be. They had all the same kinds of odd jobs after graduating that I had 20 years later. They headed back to graduate school, just as so many of my friends do now. But, where I had a cat I could barely afford, they had my sister and me. Their money went to clothe us and put us in childcare and move us into better school districts and later, when there was more of it, to try to give us what we didn’t have. Their time went to bussing us to school and to extra activities—thank you, Chicago Park District—and to fighting HMOs and to working in the tiny computer lab at the private Lutheran school in order to pay off what it cost for us to go there, so that our future might not be dictated by our income.

I don’t remember the first time my mom told me not to have kids too young, to wait. It was some time long before I was doing anything that could have resulted in babies.

“Don’t make the same mistakes I made,” she once said, which really is all it seems anyone ever wants for their children: to make different mistakes.


The family at graduation.

In June, I’ll turn 28 and be the oldest any woman in my mom’s family has been without popping one out. I’ll also be far wealthier than my parents were at my age. I look around our condo and don’t even know how a kid would fit in if I wanted one right now, and don’t know what we’d have to stop buying to afford another person: sandwiches from Whole Foods? Marathon race entries? Writing classes? Probably all of the above. And to be honest, I would probably resent the kid for every one of those far easier choices than my parents ever had to make. I make four times (or more) what my parents made when they had me. Yet, I am convinced I couldn’t afford to do the same.

My husband and I cracked the $100,000 barrier and nothing changed other than the inability to go back. The gut-wrenching painful anxiety over the basic cost of living—the kind the wakes you up in the night counting dollars in your head to see if there’s enough for a bus to work in the morning—is gone, hopefully never to return. But the aimlessness of being 27, of waiting for something to happen, is still there. It’s the knowledge that I’m living out an unoriginal episode of Girls, but with nicer accessories (and less of the weird sex stuff).

In college I worked two jobs and piled up student debt and once won a much-needed $500 in cash at an off-the-books bingo game that went straight to paying that month’s rent. But, I felt flush with money and freedom. Sometimes, after loan checks had come in or work paid up, my roommates and I would get dressed in our secondhand store best and take the train downtown to Nordstrom’s. We’d ride the elevator to the top floor, where the tourists flocked to the penthouse-level Cheesecake Factory, and order appetizers, pretending we just weren’t that hungry. We’d look down at the shoppers and families crowding Union Square and feel, for just that time, like we belonged. And, when the bill came, we were always short.

Now, I walk through The Village (a fancier version of a mall) near where I work, not sure if my money yet qualifies me as belonging or buys me a spot among the wealthy stay-at-home moms. If I purchase some Lululemon capris will that be enough? Or, does it have to come with the $2,000 stroller?

Wandering by myself, then, I almost always call my parents. But, since both my sister and I left, they’re nearly always out. After working their way up the rungs of the American economic ladder, slowed by dragging their kids with them, they have plenty of money now. They totally got taken by one of those timeshare companies and make semi-annual trips to Puerto Rico or Cozumel. I don’t know if they know or care how much I make, or if this was how they wanted it to turn out when they were deciding which debts to default on or moving us into my godmother’s attic so we could pay off my sister’s hospital bill. I don’t know if they hoped that I wouldn’t have to make the same choices they did. I hand my credit card to the store clerk and hope my mistakes have been different enough.

 

Kelly O’Mara writes for a living, mostly for places you’ve never heard of.

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99 Comments / Post A Comment

Morbo (#1,236)

I had a kid young, just post-college. It made me more focused, and in some ways, is the best blessing professionally I could ever have. Our family broke that income barrier at 27.

If you don’t want to have a kid, this is fine. More room on the playground.

But to characterize them as an impediment to “having it all” is a disservice to all of those that had kids, and put in the hours to advance their education and career.

Frankly, it smacks of the self-satisfied smugness of the child-free movement.

PumpedUpDogs (#2,824)

@Morbo This is a personal essay about the author’s life and her feelings about having kids. I think she explains herself pretty well.

I doubt that her essay was a referendum on your life.

Morbo (#1,236)

@PumpedUpDogs

I was offering a counter-point. Despite what some would like to tell you, having kids young is not a death sentence to happiness.

Catface (#1,106)

@Morbo As someone who does not have kids, I am by no means a member of “the child-free movement.” I am just a person who does not have kids, the same way you are a person who does. I sure hope I’m not self satisfied or smug about it, but I would hope you’d wait until you meet me and talk to me about it before you pull out those adjectives. Personally I think the term “child free” is gross, but a work pal of mine happily applies it to herself. Different strokes.

I live in an expensive city and I know a handful of women who have made the difficult decision not to have kids, for instance because they couldn’t afford good child care and can’t get jobs that pay better. I know someone who would rather not roll the dice on the scary genetic disease that runs in her family. I know a couple who would love to adopt and would be brilliant parents but one of them has some health issues that (preposterously) get her screened out by every agency they’ve tried. I wish you wouldn’t make assumptions about their characters based on the surface fact that they don’t have kids.

hallelujah (#802)

@Morbo Hearing “self-satisfied smugness” applied to non-parents, as opposed to parents, is fucking HILARIOUS. You have an entire world that reinforces your choice to have kids as the right one. No need to shit on this woman for providing an alternative take. And I say this as someone who had a kid young – its great you pulled yourself up by your lil bootstraps, but many young parents don’t have decent opportunities. Unplanned children can indeed be a death sentence to any kind of prosperity, especially upward mobility. Kelly, do your thing girl.

parallel-lines (#3,790)

@Morbo “Frankly, it smacks of the self-satisfied smugness of the child-free movement.”

Aaaaaaand, that’s all we need to know about you summed up in one sentence. Good day and goodbye.

Safari (#3,209)

@parallel-lines Christ you are all being such assholes to each other. BOTH child-having and child-not-having people are smug pricks to each other, and each and every one of you has proven that you behave exactly that way to your enemy faction. Way to be every cliche on the internet, you guys.

Mary2010 (#5,378)

@Morbo I’m 32 and I’m on the fence as to whether I want to have a child or not. I look for articles providing me with both perspectives,advantages of having kids vs not having kids. But I’m always surprised when I see women who have kids leaving nasty comments and claiming how fulfilling their life is with kids on articles that focus on women providing reasons for not having kids. Do you google those articles? Because most of these articles are from websites you wouldn’t usually go on regularly unless you searched for them specifically. Why would these women go searching for articles that talks about not having kids? I’m just wondering?

mygoldies (#2,349)

What is “having it all” for the author? It sounds like she’s basing that entirely on financial stability (as defined by a six-figure income), which is certainly part of it, but generally I think of “having it all” as having a fulfilling career and personal life. I don’t really see that she has either of those things from this article (not that she doesn’t have those things, but she’s not writing about them). Also she never discusses actually wanting kids – which makes “having it all” a much different calculation.

chic noir (#713)

@mygoldies – I think the author values being finacially secure after growing up very poor. As someone who grew up working class or “missing class” , I can say from personal experience that their is a certain level of anxiety that comes from being on the cusp of financial ruin.

mygoldies (#2,349)

@chic noir I agree that financial security seems important to her, but, as others are saying, she defines it so narrowly as having a high income and being able to shop at whole foods and fancy malls. Being able to afford a good quality of life is certainly important (and the author’s exploration of how her childhood has affected her desire to have this is evident), but “having it all” implies much more than that to me.

She doesn’t even seem happy – describing her life as an episode of “Girls” is not a good indicator of happiness or contentment, even though based on her marriage and job, she is not like the characters of Girls at all. (They are failures at work and relationships, as well as horrible people. But it is a great show!)

chic noir (#713)

@mygoldies Well it sounds like the author lives in New York City. I can say from personal experience, I am never more attuned to class differences and money as I am when in Manhattan. The number of very wealthy people and people who “look wealthy” is astounding. I suspect that this along with the author’s working poor upbringing has made more concious about money.

Money may not buy happiness but it sure buys things like fresh vegtables, health care, good schools, relaible transportation,tutors,admission to cultural events*, travel etc..

chic noir (#713)

@mygoldies _ and you’re right about girls :)

chic noir (#713)

@chic noir that “there” is

WayDownSouth (#3,431)

@mygoldies Yes, excellent point. There is another aspect to a poor financial background which may also be in play here.

It’s obviously important to think about 10 years from now, not just today. At present, the writer has moved beyond her previous financial status and good on her. That’s great news.

However, she should also think about how she’ll feel 10 years from today. She’ll be in her late 30s and by that time the chances of having children will be significantly lower than they are for her now. By that time, presumably she’ll have a few closets full of shoes, flown quite a bit and will have eaten thousands of nice sandwiches. The question is whether these shoes and sandwiches will be more important than one or more children.

Having a child is a very personal decision and I don’t think any of the commentators are trying to make that decision for her. However, I hope that she’s thinking 10 years out, not just about how she feels today. I’m very pleased to hear that she doesn’t feel poor, but I also hope that she doesn’t define her life’s goals as only being the opposite of what she experienced as a child.

Lily Rowan (#70)

@chic noir I’m sure they aren’t in NYC — they couldn’t own a condo on $50K a piece, nor would they feel at all well off.

LydiaBennett (#121)

@Lily Rowan Yeah I’m confused..did she mean they each broke the 100k mark? Or broke it with a combined income of 100k? Because my boyfriend and I collectively make more than 100k but are still decidedly broke. And we don’t live in NYC.

“I make four times (or more) what my parents made when they had me. Yet, I am convinced I couldn’t afford to do the same.”
Allow me to attempt to convince you — you’re incorrect.

“And to be honest, I would probably resent the kid…”
Given that you seem like a grounded, normal, thoughtful, family-oriented person, allow me to attempt to convince you again — you’re incorrect.

ThatJenn (#916)

@Harper Alexander@facebook But as someone who feels similarly – I’m not sure how I’d know, beforehand, that I wouldn’t resent my kid. I know anything or anyone else who caused me to not be able to do what I wanted would make me resentful. It’s very hard, as a person who does not have a child at this time, to imagine *not* feeling resentful of someone who can’t take care of themself, who needs me nearly all the time, who may not even like me some or all of the time, and who sucks up a lot of my time/money/energy. I can see where she’s coming from.

selenana (#673)

@Harper Alexander@facebook Nice convincing strategy.

Kristin (#3,766)

Eh, I thought I wanted to wait until I was older to have a kid, but my husband and I ended up having one when I was 26, which was a surprise. He stays home with our son, so we’re slightly below the $100k mark, but honestly I don’t think having a kid had much of an impact on our financial situation or growth. I still treat myself to whole foods sandwiches.

I’d say my student loans are holding us back much more than our kid, but everyone has their own priorities I guess.

shannowhamo (#845)

@Kristin Well, 26 isn’t exactly young to have kids. Late teens, early 20′s is more what people mean by having kids young. 26 you’re presumably well into a career and established in a relationship (hah, I was neither at 26! But some people were, I have friends who were!)

olivia (#1,618)

Wow, so judgey here today! The author certainly didn’t seem smug to me, just realistic.

PumpedUpDogs (#2,824)

@olivia I know, right? It’s not like she’s saying, “Don’t have kids, everyone else!” She’s talking about her own experiences and what she wants from life.

Morbo (#1,236)

@olivia
Not judgey. Its just that I read this narrative over and over, and frankly, there isn’t something new being offered here.

There is a value judgment here on her part that marathon entries and writing classes are better on the “having it all” spectrum than school meetings or kid’s soccer games. First, these things aren’t mutually exclusive, and second, it depends on one’s definition of “having it all”. Considering how much she name checks certain brands, she seems just as obsessed as the wealthy stay-at-home moms she derides.

shannowhamo (#845)

@PumpedUpDogs For real. She is describing her experience in contrast to her parents’, not saying all young parents are miserable or poor.

somebodyelse (#3,784)

@olivia … But those things ARE mutually exclusive because you only have a limited number of dollars to spend. 100$ spent on a baby one month means there is no more 100$ left to register for a marathon.

And yes she’s making value judgements. We all get to make our own value judgements about our lives and what we choose to spend our money on. Some of us would prefer not to *ever* spend it on babies.

Safari (#3,209)

@olivia I think it rubs some people the wrong way because she’s objectively wealthy and yet talking about things she “couldn’t afford.” I wholly support everyone’s reproductive choices and think no one should have a child if they don’t want one, but I’m not surprised that people raising children on quite a lot less than she and her husband make find the way she’s looking at the “sacrifice” of childrearing pretty off-putting coming from someone in her position.

dudeascending (#1,921)

I think this was a really interesting piece, and I applaud the author for doing such a great job blending her sense of self-satisfaction and self-doubt. I think many of us are experiencing the same thing.

I do wonder if her “mistakes” have to do with her idea of “having it all” (e.g., a good quality of life) being pretty exclusively bound up in the idea of having greater discretionary income or purchasing power. The comments about buyig her way out of her problems, feeling like she belongs or doesn’t belong at a mall, etc., etc.

If your sense of accomplishment hinges on what consumer goods you can show off, of course, being DINKs is a huge advantage. But, yeah, does “having it all” really mean “able to buy anything”?

CubeRootOfPi (#1,098)

@dudeascending It sounds like more “not having to worry when she buys something” instead of “being able to buy anything.”

aetataureate (#1,310)

@dudeascending It does if you grew up poor. More importantly, it does if you want it to, full stop.

@dudeascending We had a long discussion about this topic at my work the other day. I think what people forget about it that having it all means different things to different women. Some women consider having it all to be the CEO job and the three kids and the great marriage and the summer home. Some women consider having it all to mean a fun part-time job at a deli and the ability to sew buttons back on to shirts. Most of us probably fall somewhere in between. The trick is to make sure you have the resources and support system in place to be able to have your all.

Catface (#1,106)

@dudeascending I just want to applaud your characterization of the author’s mix of self-satisfaction and self-doubt. That is exactly what I felt, too.

dudeascending (#1,921)

@Catface Thank you! I’m pretty much always oscillating between the two, so I’ve had some time to suss out the wording.

Tuna Surprise (#118)

I loved this article! Maybe because I’m one of those crazy kid free people who doesn’t understand that the love of a child will offset their financial drain. I grew up on the lower end of middle class and having financial freedom has meant a lot to me. I am not sure if I ever want kids but I know I cherish every day that I only have to pay for myself. A vacation budget goes much further when you only need to buy one ticket.

theballgirl (#1,546)

Love this. Mainly because this was me, 3ish years ago; same income levels, just married, and settled into our lovely condo just outside a major city. Although the difference with me is that I was obsessed with having kids. I wanted those chubby little bastards more than anything! And low and behold, I was knocked up a year later (so about 2 years ago). Now we had planned/budgeted for our baby, (altho “not enough” according to the husband who had DAILY anxiety attacks) but the way people talked about it, we expected INSTA-bills to come raining down on us the second he squeaked out his first cry. We were pleasantly surprised to find that our monthly baby-related costs were lower than what we had planned. For sure, our costs will grow in correlation with him (then far far surpass), so we continue to save and strategize for the future. Anyways, just wanted to offer an alternate outcome from a similar starting point.
PS – NOT a baby-pusher. Have em/don’t have em. Financially he’s not as hard as we thought, but mentally its a thunderdome.

Marissa (#467)

If motherhood was something I wanted for myself, obviously I’m sure the costs and sacrifices associated it would be completely worth it. But it’s not something I want, so I do enjoy the fact that I can use potential college fund money on travel and such.

Perhaps, though, we should put a moratorium on the phrase “having it all”. It always seems to cause trouble!

lalaland (#437)

It sounds like the author’s parents struggled with having their kids so young, couldn’t pursue their dreams, and the author internalized having kids as having no money/making mistakes. She states she makes 4x what her parents made when they had her, so even if she did have kids, wouldn’t she still be doing better than they did?

I dunno, I don’t have kids so I don’t feel personally affronted by this, it just sounds like a specious argument. Pretty sure at $100k, you can have whole foods sandwiches AND a kid (if you wanted to).

ThatJenn (#916)

@lalaland I thought she was going to make a point about her career advancement and investments, cash flow, etc. making her financial situation better over the first few years of her working life, but I did still find the overall feel of the piece very familiar (I am similarly ambivalent about the financial aspects of having a kid, though I’m marrying someone who doesn’t want kids so that kind of clears up that decision for me).

sunflowernut (#1,638)

I don’t understand why she compared herself to her parents so much. I mean, having children early is understanably a barrier to being able to focus on a career. But I think the fact that her father was an actor and at some point during her childhood was back in school had a lot more to do with her parent’s income level at the time than anything else.

I wasn’t so much a fan of this. I kept expecting her to bring up some deeper realization about what it meant for her to “have it all”, and all she did was go on about being able to go shoppping. I mean, I am going to assume that her version of “having it all” is supposed to be financial stability, not just being able to buy lots of stuff. But that is my good faith guess, since no where does she mention a retirement plan or emergency fund, which are important parts of financially stability, IMHO.

lalaland (#437)

@sunflowernut Agreed – “having it all,” in whatever sense of the word, does not mean almost being able to afford J.Crew and contemplating Lululemon leggings (which are really terrible quality now, so save your $).

Kids are expensive – there’s no question about that. But I was hoping there’d be a – we don’t have kids so we have money to travel, or to help out our parents financially, or to volunteer more or to…I don’t know. Something besides a condo and shopping.

I am pretty ambivalent on children and turning 28 this year, and I definitely don’t think children are the be all and end all to life, but I also don’t want to read something I wrote 10 years later wherein I did a cost-benefit analysis that basically summed up to: kids or whole foods sandwiches?

aetataureate (#1,310)

There needs to be a new word for the kind of internet content that draws people out of the woodwork to say really obvious things. Like anything that’s ever even tangentially related to the mommy wars.

theotherginger (#1,304)

@aetataureate yup. I loved this piece. It’s her life, her experience, and she seems happy, although marked by where she came from.

aetataureate (#1,310)

@theotherginger When people get up in arms about the personal opinions of total strangers, I wonder how much they like their own choices in the first place.

CubeRootOfPi (#1,098)

@aetataureate I thought this piece was refreshing – normally the ending would be something along the lines of “I learned that money isn’t everything and that XYZ matters more” Which, great, if that makes you happy but the author seems happy doing her thing as well.

loren smith (#2,300)

@aetataureate This is the most succinct and agreeable comment I have seen on the entire internet. Thank you!

chic noir (#713)

Oh gosh, children.

I don’t think the current American working class or middle class lifestyle is child/children compatiable. Working long hrs for crap wages only to spend half of your income on childcare. Too physically and emotionally exhaused from work to really spend any quality time with your children during the week. No health insureance to take care of your kids when they are sick.

What really makes me sad is poor and working class people NEED to have children to ensure(lets hope) they have someone to take care of them when they are older. That’s something we Americans don’t like to talk about but for poor people around the world, children are the original 401K or insurance policy,

theotherginger (#1,304)

@chic noir I think that discussions around children ALWAYS come from a specific social location, and ignore the reality that most people who have kids often don’t have the luxury of choice with childcare options, work options, let alone necessary health care.

chic noir (#713)

@theotherginger – I agree with what you said 100%.

I’ve talked to friends with children and some of them tell me that childcare costs 800 bucks per month for a newborne. Now how many young adult couples have an extra 800 dollars after paying their other expenses? It’s crazy that we don’t have low cost state funded child care in this country. Most working class couples can’t afford to have one spouse stay home but they also can’t afford childcare either.

charmcity (#1,091)

@chic noir In the DC/Northern VA area, infant daycare is usually in the $1200+ range, according to friends of mine who are considering babies right now. I literally cannot afford to live here and have a kid.

chic noir (#713)

@charmcity – My God, 1200 is a lot of money. There people who don’t have 1200 take home pay in a month.

I’m from a poor inner city(well gentrafied now) neighborhood. Most of low wage earning women who had steady childcare had either a family member babysitting or an older sibling who took care of the younger child.

Twice I’ve been on the bus and the bus driver had to bring her kid to work. Poor kid had to sit on the bus with a couple of books for eight long hours because mom didn’t have a babysitter or the babysitter had an emergency.

theballgirl (#1,546)

@chic noir In Boston and just outside, it’s anywhere from $1400-2200+ per kid. AND you pay before your kid is even here (to “hold your spot”).

chic noir (#713)

@theballgirl OMG is 2200 for a special needs child? Now how many people in this country have an extra 2200 per month? Even most college educated people don’t have that sort of money just sitting in an emergency fund. NO amount of cutting lattes, Iphone, and cable will give a family an extra 2200 per month.

Children are becoming another luxury product.

theotherginger (#1,304)

@chic noir wow. now all the talk about women not working (because they would make the same as paying a nanny) makes a bit more sense. I mean, of course, only if you don’t count unpaid work at home as work. Which always seems to fall on the woman’s salary, not the man’s. (also a definite hetero-couple bias. Maybe I idealize different-sex relationships too much.) But still.

Lily Rowan (#70)

The thing is, for babies, the adult:baby ratio can be legally mandated at 1:3 (I know it is in some places, but not everywhere). So you’re paying a third of a poorly-paid employee’s salary, benefits, taxes, etc. PLUS overhead for the building, other staff, and profit, if it’s a for-profit childcare.

parallel-lines (#3,790)

@chic noir Good grief, yes! These people who imply that those who don’t have children because our priorities suck, because we’re brand obsessed–please! My husband and I are both college educated professionals earning quite a bit more than the writer and neither one of us ever gets home from work before 8 pm (we live in a very modest neighborhood of Brooklyn, paying far under market price for our apartment). Childcare would eat my husband’s entire paycheck–the whole thing. I cannot afford to support a family of three on my paycheck alone – this is not about giving up a starbucks treat here and there. We are literally trying not to be sucked down by student debt as-is and are still recovering from the crash of 2008 where we both lost a big part of our savings (I was a Lehman employee, and believe it or not, we got pretty screwed as well).

Kids are nice but if you’re in a place that you can afford to have one and NOT have to suffer financially (and I mean in a real way like not being able to eat or pay rent) then you should consider yourself lucky.

Hey whatevs, I have a great child care plan: it’s this little maroon booklet my wife owns that says “République française” on the front.

theotherginger (#1,304)

@stuffisthings took me a second. but now that I get it, amazing!

Safari (#3,209)

@chic noir People have children for reasons other than producing future healthcare workers for themselves you mercenary-minded weirdo. And it is condescending as heeeeelllllllll to say doing a totally normal human being thing is “incompatible” with certain social classes.

chic noir (#713)

@Safari – Young lady we don’t call names here on the the Billfold.

Futhermore, how ever you feel about the author’s reasons why she isn’t having children, you can’t deny that it takes money to raise a child. Even the bare nesscities like diapers, food and clothes cost money. Many Americans women and couples are unable to afford 1200 bucks per month.

People have children for reasons other than producing future healthcare workers for themselves you mercenary-minded weirdo.

I’m sorry to inform you that this is a major reason why people have children in some parts of the world. You must be from a privledged class for such a trival thing to upset you.

@parallel-lines

I have to agree. My wife and I, both college educated, live in Brooklyn and live below our means. For us not having children doesn’t mean we are well off, rather we lead lives of slightly less, quiet desperation. We could never send a child to the local public school, which got the grade of F, nor could we afford the almost $29,000 a year for the two private schools nearby.

Just the simple step of providing a child a room of its own means going from a $2,400 one bedroom rental to a $3,600 two bedroom rental. That’s a huge financial hurdle: $14,000 a year so a child can have its own room.

The people who seem to be doing well raising their kids in NY have a lot of money coming from their parents who provided down payment for the multi-room apartment, and pay for a credit card. Moreover even grandparents provide assistance in the form of educational trust funds. It seems like today it takes multi-generational wealth to raise a child in New York City. In this regard I will forever be way out of my league.

@parallel-lines

I have to agree. My wife and I, both college educated, live in Brooklyn and live below our means. For us not having children doesn’t mean we are well off, rather we lead lives of slightly less, quiet desperation. We could never send a child to the local public school, which got the grade of F, nor could we afford the almost $29,000 a year for the two private schools nearby.

Just the simple step of providing a child a room of its own means going from a $2,400 one bedroom rental to a $3,600 two bedroom rental. That’s a huge financial hurdle: $14,000 a year so a child can have its own room.

The people who seem to be doing well raising their kids in NY have a lot of money coming from their parents who provided down payment for the multi-room apartment, and pay for a credit card. Moreover even grandparents provide assistance in the form of educational trust funds. It seems like today it takes multi-generational wealth to raise a child in New York City. In this regard I will forever be way out of my league.

@parallel-lines

I have to agree. My wife and I, both college educated, live in Brooklyn and live below our means. For us not having children doesn’t mean we are well off, rather we lead lives of slightly less, quiet desperation. We could never send a child to the local public school, which got the grade of F, nor could we afford the almost $29,000 a year for the two private schools nearby.

Just the simple step of providing a child a room of its own means going from a $2,400 one bedroom rental to a $3,600 two bedroom rental. That’s a huge financial hurdle: $14,000 a year so a child can have its own room.

The people who seem to be doing well raising their kids in NY have a lot of money coming from their parents who provided down payment for the multi-room apartment, and pay for a credit card. Moreover even grandparents provide assistance in the form of educational trust funds. It seems like today it takes multi-generational wealth to raise a child in New York City. In this regard I will forever be way out of my league.

@parallel-lines

I have to agree. My wife and I, both college educated, live in Brooklyn and live below our means. For us not having children doesn’t mean we are well off, rather we lead lives of slightly less, quiet desperation. We could never send a child to the local public school, which got the grade of F, nor could we afford the almost $29,000 a year for the two private schools nearby.

Just the simple step of providing a child a room of its own means going from a $2,400 one bedroom rental to a $3,600 two bedroom rental. That’s a huge financial hurdle: $14,000 a year so a child can have its own room.

The people who seem to be doing well raising their kids in NY have a lot of money coming from their parents who provided down payment for the multi-room apartment, and pay for a credit card. Moreover even grandparents provide assistance in the form of educational trust funds. It seems like today it takes multi-generational wealth to raise a child in New York City. In this regard I will forever be way out of my league.

dudeascending (#1,921)

@CubeRootOfPi I don’t think that she, herself, is talking about being able to buy anything, but I did come away with the idea that to her, “having it all” means having many/more/ALL OF THE consumer choices, and that the higher her discretionary income, the more of “it” she would have because “it” is something we purchase.

Because she spends quite a few lines musing about what mistakes she might be making, I’m suggesting that perhaps that way of thinking is the mistake.

CubeRootOfPi (#1,098)

@dudeascending But she grew up poor and that made a big impact on her. To me, it seemed like having discretionary income (and, at this point, no kids) represents freedom to her – the freedom to not have to worry about financial ruin, the freedom to (for the most part) get what she wants when she wants it, the freedom to be accepted by people. Yes, she does seem to wonder if there’s something more, but she seems happy that she’s free to do and buy things that for most of her life couldn’t do.

parallel-lines (#3,790)

@CubeRootOfPi I wonder if people who didn’t grow up poor can really comprehend the kind of instability that brings to your life, and how you will pretty much do anything to avoid your life taking the same direction. That fear shapes every decision you make because you know how bad things really can be. To someone who was poor, having money IS having freedom: freedom from worry and suffering, the freedom to be able to make choices about your life, to not be stuck and scared and to have a sense of control over your future. So yes, if you didn’t have much than having choices in life can really be “having it all.”

dudeascending (#1,921)

@parallel-lines To contribute to anecdata, I grew up fairly low-income (family of three on $8,400/year, although inflation makes it seem worse than it was), and while my parents did eventually claw their way into the middle class, we continued to live very, very modestly. For most my teenage years, we all lived together in a tiny one-bedroom apartment in an affluent New England town that they choose because it had good schools.

In the past, spending money definitely gave me a sense of freedom, but when I look back, personally, it seems ersatz. But everyone else’s mileage will vary.

dudeascending (#1,921)

@aetataureate @CubeRootOfPi Guys/gals, I don’t have a dog in this fight. I’m responding to the writer’s stated anxiety about belonging vs. belonging as measured by discretionary purchasing. She ends her piece with “I hand my credit card to the store clerk and hope my mistakes have been different enough.” To me, it sounds like she’s ambivalent about what her purchasing power means, or, more broadly, whether or not she’s “doing the right thing”–whatever that might mean to her personally.

If “having it all” means “being able to buy things” to her, then I respect that. But I’m just trying to engage the thread of self-doubt that weaves its way through the piece–and knots itself at the end.

aetataureate (#1,310)

@dudeascending Yeah, and I’m responding to your comment, that’s how comments work. Actually everyone has “a dog in this fight,” since we’re all humans who have to decide what we want or don’t want.

dudeascending (#1,921)

@aetataureate @aetataureate Sorry, I don’t mean to imply that I’m annoyed at our discussion! I really enjoy the back and forth.

What I meant by not having a dog in this fight is, I don’t know whether or not the writer is making the “right” mistakes, nor would I judge her for what those mistakes are (if they are mistakes). And of course, we all have to decide what we want for ourselves, but those are all different fights. Right now, I’m just commenting on this writer’s particular situation, as laid out in this particular piece; I don’t mean to make her a case study for how everyone could or should feel or behave.

Ultimately, it seems like we (and others) took away very different feelings from this piece: you picked up on her self-confidence, whereas I really felt her self-doubt. If being able to buy stuff in lieu of having kids makes her feel like she “has it all,” “belongs,” or has otherwise made it, then that’s great for her! If it were the other way around, that’s also great for her! But since I felt the self-doubt in the writing, I wanted to suggest an idea for why she might still feel somewhat ambivalent about her decisions.

aetataureate (#1,310)

@dudeascending Oh, yeah, I didn’t pick up or not pick up on anything — regardless of her level of confidence, it’s her prerogative to value whatever she wants. That’s my point.

dudeascending (#1,921)

@missedconnections Yes, absolutely! But I think it’s always worth it to ask ourselves why we choose the things we do for what constitutes “having it all,” since often, they end up being the things that the dominant ideology wants us to have, or overcompensating for some prior personal loss/failure, or whatever.

If a woman wants to be a CEO with three kids and a great marriage and a summer home, then I think that’s great. If the writer wants to buy Whole Foods sandwiches and Lululemon gear in lieu of having kids, that’s also great. But there’s no harm in asking ourselves, from time to time, why we want the things we want. Do you want to be a CEO because that’s how you conceptualize ultimate success? Would you then feel like a failure if you were “only” COO, or middle management? Do you truly love the Lululemon brand, or are you buying stuff just as hedge against a stranger looking at you and wondering if you belong?

To be clear: I am not judging this writer’s choices; I’m just trying to engage critically with some of the things she brings up.

s. dekker (#3,301)

I understand the fear of having kids after finally achieving a comfortable salary and lifestyle. Like the author, I finally am in a position where I don’t have to worry about the extra round of drinks, eating out, or buying something I like when I see it.

BUT! If I decided to have a child right now, childcare costs would cut my take-home income and savings potential considerably (what does a daycare or nanny cost? AT LEAST 1000/mo?). This is not a judgment against parents and it’s not a statement saying it can’t be done, just that it gives ME pause. I don’t think buying things means having it all, but having kids certainly doesn’t mean that, either. The financial/personal freedom and the decrease in anxiety the extra income provides is worth something to some of us.

Snowlion (#2,587)

@sdekker I completely agree with you. I too am at a point (at 28) where I finally feel financially secure. After growing up feeling never-ending stress about money (and a car that was always breaking down) I can’t express how great it feel to have nice things and still be able to save $. I tell my husband all the time that my “negative” feelings towards having kids are the result of a financially-stressed childhood…not a hatred of children. I LOVE my parents and I had a great childhood…but my middle school through college years were tight and my parents just looked soooo stressed and sad all the time. It’s hard to want to “shake things up with kids” when I just love my life with my husband and dog. Some people might view it as materialistic or selfish…but I don’t see it that way. I just view the choice to have kids as a personal desire…and the desire to NOT as an equally acceptable one.

This is relevant: http://xkcd.com/946/

I suppose if I had children, I would make it work regardless of my financial situation, just like so many have before me. But ultimately, my ambivalence about having children at all, compared with my friends who have always known they wanted kids (many of whom are currently raising them just fine in spite of their lack of a 6 figure income) leads me to the same conclusion as the author: right now, the luxury of financial security is more of a priority than childrearing.

boringbunny (#3,260)

I was really confused when she said she was 27; I figured she’d be 40. To be turning 28 and not have had kids yet is not exactly a statement. So to the extent that she’s saying, she’s in a nice comfortable place now and she wouldn’t have been in this financial place if she had had a kid, that’s indisputable. Although it does seem to be along the lines of – well, I would be worse off financially if I had [insert thing that costs money] but I don’t.

TARDIStime (#1,633)

@boringbunny “To be turning 28 and not have had kids yet is not exactly a statement.”
Maybe not in society at large, but in her family circle it’s a pretty big statement. She’ll be the first in her family’s history to hit 28 and be childless. Presumably, she’s also the first in her family to be relatively affluent (“don’t have to worry too much about basics” kind of affluent) in her 20′s.
The statement she is making is that she grew up on struggle street, but she doesn’t live there any more, and good for her! I hope her family’s proud.

tenya (#833)

Oh, I identify so much with this piece! Although my growing-up poor was not to do with having children young (my parents were in their 30s) but other decisions and crappy luck and it creates such a guarding against poverty in whatever way you can – never take a loan or use credit cards! Never have children before X age! Never live in x/y/z place! Never major in a/b/c! Even if it almost ends up being superstition, it doesn’t matter, because especially when it works out and you’re not impoverished at a set point in time, you can believe you’ve avoided their mistakes and you won’t be in that same miserable place. Having it all here is being successful in the eyes of your parents – ie, avoiding their mistakes and having money for the little niceties.

lalaland (#437)

@tenya The piece irked me, but I love and agree with your comment so much even though you basically summarized what I guess the piece was trying to say. Little superstitions to keep away the mistakes of your parents, and to make them proud.

tinygirl (#3,794)

I am surprised at all the anger here. I’m 41, got married when I was 36, and am not having kids. I, too, was surprised that the author was so young, she has years to change her mind. And only if she wants to. I never had the desire to have kids. But everywhere you go, I am reminded that you are supposed to have kids. And it hurts, it feels like I have done something wrong…and I haven’t. I just think women need to be less judgemental of others choices, whatever the reasons for being childfree.

lalaland (#437)

@tinygirl Noo no no! Please don’t feel that way, or if I was one of the commenters who made you feel that way, I am truly sorry.

It’s only been the past year that I’ve decided maybe having a kid wouldn’t be the WORST thing ever. And then I look at my savings account and think how nicely I’m chugging along – and realize how quickly and utterly a child would derail that, and it’s terrifying. For me, the reason I was annoyed by the piece wasn’t about her decision on whether or not to have a child, but rather that it just seemed…a poor argument.

Had she said, “I just don’t want kids. Here is what I bought instead,” I would have applauded her. But her point that having kids makes you poor like her parents was during her childhood is lost, not only because she IS making more than them, and therefore not them, but also because now they’re off in a time-share and have lots of money. So having kids didn’t really make them poor in the long run?

Anyway, the point is – from one anonymous Internet commenter to another, I am deeply sorry if any of my comments hurt you.

lalaland (#437)

@tinygirl Ack! But now I’m thinking about it more (also procrastinating on work right now, so apologies for filling up this comment section) but instead of children, had the author written about (insert something else that costs money) like a dog, which I totally and completely DO want, I don’t think I would have felt this annoyed.

Sure, the piece would still be kind of pointless to me (and how do you not want a dog?) but I don’t think I would had so many criticisms. Even if I’d rather have a dog than JCrew. So apparently I do have more subconscious/internalized feelings on decisions to have children than I thought, and will be more mindful of my comments in the future (and obviously be less judge-y/figure out why I feel this way).

themmases (#1,959)

Am I alone in not finding this piece very brand obsessed at all? This is a site about money that spends plenty of time on people’s discretionary spending decisions and their values about whether a type of purchase is a need or a want or an upgrade or whatever. People at various income levels on this site have said they consider certain clothing brands (and J. Crew in particular) to be reasonable, not reasonable, or a splurge based on their own values and what else they have going on in their budget. Ambivalence about whether your clothing or food purchases are worth it, in whatever sense, would seem to be a nearly universal experience among writers on this site.

If we don’t already know, we can all go check how much a J. Crew skirt costs and how far Kelly feels her $102K is going. I would think the usefulness of mentioning a specific brand would be obvious, since people are always so grateful when writers throw out *actual numbers* that make them feel rich or poor.

I don’t really get this high school attitude among some commenters that we’re all supposed to pretend to be so cool we don’t even know what labels are, man, and if we do know it must be because we’re obsessed. This post discussed a lot of other aspects of her and her parents’ financial decisions besides just shopping. But I guess bringing up the shopping makes the best possible contrast with raising children if you want to make the author sound frivolous for not sharing your life choices.

megadith (#273)

I feel like I could have written this. I also grew up in a working-poor family and even though my husband and I are now financially comfortable, which feels fantastic, I can’t imagine shaving off $1200/month for full-time daycare. I could, but I’d have to slow my savings goals and I am starting to think of buying a house in a year or so. I also have zero interest in having a kid, and in fact, the idea is kind of repugnant to me because all I can see are the considerable downsides.

I definitely have a chip on my shoulder about growing up poor, so as lame as I know it is, I feel a little bit of satisfaction when I’m able to comfortably afford something at a store I was rushed past when I was a kid. It would take a more self-assured little girl than I was to not be bothered that all your friends are wearing Limited Too while you are in whatever fit from the thrift store. I get how shallow and hollow it is to need that validation and I’m trying to get past it, but I guess I’m just saying that I get where you’re coming from.

@megadith
I too feel like I could have written this. I actually had a very crummy childhood: poverty, abuse, etc that I had to run from in order to excel and prosper. Getting to the point where I can finally say “I’m doing well” took me two decades.

When I spend time with my friends with children I get very reflective and sad as painful childhood memories flood back to me. I sat and watched a two year old kid get 18 presents for his birthday. I recalled the time on Christmas when I threw out the garbage and saw all the toy boxes from the other kid in the building. I added my one sweater box and stayed down there and played in the boxes and built a fort! I daydreamed in that fort and looked at pictures of the lego kits, etc. When I finally went back up to my apartment, no one asked why I was gone for so long.

Essentially, my childhood was the most painful part of my life. While I’ve been quite capable at forgetting my childhood, often being around children brings me back. I sort of think about it this way: Would an former convict watch a television program like OZ? Probably not.

@fo (#839)

“I make four times (or more) what my parents made when they had me.”

Is that nominal dollars, or real dollars? $100k today would have been $46,000 in 1985–1/4 of that was less than 2 full-time minimum wage ($3.35/hr) jobs.

If nominal dollars, comparing apples and oranges.

TARDIStime (#1,633)

@@fo I would also like to know this. Inflation means something.

@fo (#839)

@TARDIStime I could point out that I make X-times what my (single) mother did in 1978 (bc she often re-told the story of how exceited she was to see the salary on paper), too, but if I don’t adjust for inflation, or housing costs, or whatever, it’s kinda meaningless.

Elle (#3,795)

To the author: So, are you saying that you are choosing to never have children because you do not want them to hinder your career and money making potential? Or, are you happy (as you should be) where you are in life and how you and your husband have created a financially stable environment for yourselves and thus, will have a financially stable environment in which to have children in? Are you encouraging women to not have children at all or just wait until they are older/financially stable? If the latter, then how do you think this decision will affect your career and income potential in the future?

cmg16 (#3,226)

Speaking as someone who did have kids starting at 27 (I’m now 34 and expecting #3) I think this is a great essay. There is a financial tradeoff involved with having kids, and that calculation is different depending on where you are in terms of the economic ladder/co-parenting status/education/etc etc etc. This is one interesting perspective. I would say don’t be harsh on your Dad about being a struggling actor! Corny but…if he had been, say, an unhappy accountant instead of a working actor hustling odd jobs to make ends meet, you probably would have a different set of issues. I think it’s interesting that a lot of the commentors want to read this as part of the “having it all” mommy wars debate…this is the author’s life and her set of personal decisions, not “lean in: the flip side!”

@fo (#839)

@cmg16 “I think it’s interesting that a lot of the commentors want to read this as part of the “having it all” mommy wars debate”

“Having it all” is (as you imply) a really, really loaded phrase on the intertubez right now, and (unfairly, I’d say) especially for feamle authors of child-bearing age.

Kelly seems well more than sharp enough to realize that–ALTHO I would note that the ONLY time it appears is in the hed, which she may NOT have written.

Perhaps we blame the loaded term on Logan, Mike or a behind the scenes Awl-ster?

I do think–strongly–that a lot of the comments are triggered off of the hed, rather than the actual content of the post. Standard intertubez BS to drive hits, links and comments (ALSO–classic Dead-Tree Newspaper gambit, and classic Local TV News Sweeps gambit (eg–”What’s in your drinking water might be killing you–join us next week at 11 to find out what”), so it’s not at all new).

triplethreat (#3,800)

As always, the comments here bring up interesting side conversations (the ridiculous costs of childcare – I feel you) but I am struck by how many people seem to have misread or read too much of their own issues into the original piece. Perhaps the phrase “having it all” in the headline (which is usually the work of an editor, not the writer) pushes people’s buttons. The author never once mentions “having it all” nor does she say she’s never having children. She doesn’t even actually say that she likes shopping at the mall. The piece seems to be about the ambivalence that goes with any sort of self-awareness – the ambivalence that all of us in our late twenties and early thirties have at some time or other felt about where our lives are headed and where we’ve been and how our attitude toward money fits into that. The author doesn’t seem all that scarred by the poverty of her childhood, rather she seems bemused by the effect it had on her – how compared to her parents, she would resent having to make choices that she obviously sees as far easier choices than her parents had to make. I also like that the piece doesn’t have one of those contrived endings with a trite little lesson. The uncertainty that the reader feels at the end is part of the point I think. Nice piece – thanks for posting it.

lanascrub (#2,531)

This is not really a comment on the piece directly, but can i just put in a request to Mike & Logan for more content on affording kids/childcare? There’s a lot on here about credit card debt and paying off student loans – I am also in my twenties and have both of those issues to deal with – and I love reading the articles and comments on them. However, I also recently got married and am looking to have kids in the next year or so. This TERRIFIES me.

I’m in a more affordable city than NYC (Chicago), but it still seems like childcare is going to cost me around $1200/month, especially for an infant/toddler. This is only slightly less than our mortgage payment. How the hell do people do this? It seems like at least some of the commenters here have kids and might have some helpful advice. I also 1)live in a state that does not mandate paid maternity leave, and 2) work at a company small enough to negate any FMLA protections (meaning I could lose my job for taking any leave if my boss didn’t feel like approving it).

I’d love to have the Billfold as a resource for these types of issues. WWMDD?

chic noir (#713)

@Original_Becky- Most of my friends have a relative who takes care of their child during the day for free or at a much lower cost than a daycare would charge. Like instead of 1200 bucks, grandma babysits for 400 bucks per month.

MomX4 (#3,813)

Hello! Great article.
I would have to say that as a mom of 4, we do have everything we have ever dreamed of, and it has been a struggle to get it. Not everyone dreams of being mommy though, and some women should not be a mother. Some people just aren’t up to the challenge either, and let me tell you, I’ve never worked harder at anything than I have at raising my children.
We broke the $100K barrier as soon as I got my first job out of college, but when I did the variance of 1960 dollar value vs 2000 dollar, we were just a little bit better off than our folks. That number lost it’s luster pretty quickly once you add in the fact that our parents did not have credit card or college debt to payoff (credit cards were just beginning to become more readily available in the 70′s according to my mom).
We had already had our first child while I was in college, so life was interesting early on. Our children bring a richness to our life that we otherwise would not have. They also bring a lot of debt at times, that we have been successfully paying off. You can still take classes, you can still go out to eat; but you will have to strategize on how to do so with a young child or baby.
As for Original_Becky – I have never met a couple who could crunch the numbers successfully to have a baby. Some people are in better positions to do so, and others are not. Having family nearby may help negate childcare costs or at the very least give you emotional backup.
I know a lot of mothers who ended up working at their child’s daycare to get paid, and negate those costs. In speaking with those mothers, they said they actually made more money for those 5 years, because they basically got $1200 for each child on top of their very small salary. On top of that, they are on campus to watch over their children, which is something a lot of us wish we could do.
Some workplaces have childcare flex accounts that work a lot like your medical. My best advice would be to get a year’s savings setup, and talk to HR about your rights. They cannot fire you for being pregnant the last I heard. Check out the laws in your state a bit more, as well as FMLA rules.
Ladies and gents, it has been a treat to read and comment without a fight. Have a great day!

I work w/ more & more younger couples these days that don’t plan to have kids. Measured against significant life events, the rewards of having kids seems to outweigh the financial benefits of remaining childless. Yes, I am suggesting your womb and home be everfilled with noisy, messy, expensive children, however you are (so far) free to choose.
I ask only that you consider the following:
When the Paramedics ask who they should record as next of kin and you say “There’s Nobody”,
When Christmas morning comes and goes and you look at the gift from your spouse and wonder what all the fuss is about,
When you turn in for the night and look at the other selfish person in bed with you and wonder how much more of this you can take…
Aww, nevermind. You’ve got a boat.
You can sail it through an ocean of similar childless boats.
Having kids is difficult, and that’s for those other people who can do difficult things that matter. Besides, you’re afraid you’d screw it up, just like your parents screwed you up. Instead of having kids you can prove how brave you are by learning to scuba dive, or climb mountains, or race motorcycles. You can ‘make a difference’ in the world by volunteering with . … well, you’ll think of something. But first, there’s a big online sale on boat gear, which in your last will and testament you can leave to the government.

I googled educated professionals not having kids because I’m ending my jr year in college and entering a job that will pay me more than I have ever made. I have a girlfriend that is a year ahead of me making her 50k fresh out of college and she has to pay child support which makes it so she makes less than I do. I always thought I would be the one in my family to continue our dna, as cheesy as that sounds. My brother is 34 and my sister is 36 both don’t have children but both are still struggling financially, they didn’t go to school. I just turned 28 and all I can I think is that I worked damn hard for this degree and crawling out of poverty. I can’t see myself throwing all this away for offspring. Especially, when I have a dog that is like my baby and friends who are like my family. My other girlfriends son just had a baby and my boyfriends best friend just had a baby and from what I see they are time/money sink. You can’t leave them alone and they need constant attention. Also, I went shopping with my girlfriend, formula alone was $50!!! I know that I would be an excellent mother who would raise a child who would have go to the zoo and science museums.. my child would know about Carl Sagan, Tesla, and would attend my astronomy club with me. I’m loving and attentive. I just don’t think it would be a good financial decision to have one. I’m not sure I even could commit to the same man for 18 years. I get bored after a few months of dating. While I like my boyfriend now.. people change and I’ll change. Making that kind of commitment where you will have to deal with that person no matter what for 18 years is huge! I think I’ll take on the career world instead of the family route. My best friend has 4 kids and thinking about having another, she can leave her environmental impact on the earth. I’ll take more vacations and get personal fulfillment from being part of creating things within a corporation and taking on more challenging work positions. Maybe later in life I can adopt an 18 year old and tell them I’ll pay for their college if I get to be grandmother to their kid. I heard being a grandparent is much better than being a mother.

Okaybro (#4,478)

Where do you live that a combined income of 102k is a lot? I cracked that myself at 28 after having a kid and make significantly more than that with two kids and went to graduate school during it all. Where I live, 120k doesn’t make you upper middle class so consider yourself lucky. Anyway, it seems like you are saying there is something wrong with having kids, like it would hold you back? If making 50k each is the prize for not having kids, you either live in the sticks or are delusional. Weird article. I would give up every possession for my kids. Things are things and income comparing (which it sounds like you do being that you looked at what percentage your household income out you in) is meaningless and empty. I work harder to give to my kids and save and build wealth for them.

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