If you could put a value on parenting your newborn baby, a dollar amount, for all your hard work, what would that value be? The reason parents are not paid for all of the work that they do for their children is because there isn’t a government agency or corporation large enough to cover the bills!
It’s not fair to put an “$/hour” number to it, because really you parent 24/7 initially and then a only little less than that for the next 18 years. But what if we tried to attach a dollar amount for the most basic things you do for your baby in that 4th trimester, what would that look like?
Let’s just look at diapering, as an example. You can expect to change a newborn’s bum ten-twelve times a day for the first month and then eight-ten times a day for the next two months. That’s approximately 755 diapers during that newborn period. At twenty cents per diaper (disposable), you’re looking at $151 – just for the materials! That doesn’t take into consideration the amount of labor that you’re putting into this endeavor. So what does that bring the costs of diapering up to? Let’s be conservative and only add 20% labor costs to this number which then brings the total to $271.80 for the first three months of your babies life. Note: This number does not reflect the evening differential costs for those late night changes that will inevitably occur. So the real costs associated with diapering your baby in the 4th trimester are even higher.
Imagine if we did that same exercise for all of the other basics that must happen in the newborn period: feeding the baby, clothing the baby, sheltering the baby. And we’re not even going to touch the most important need – love.
I’m obviously not being that serious. Placing a monetary value on parenting doesn’t even begin to touch what it is that we do, or why we even do it.
I’m currently at a writer’s workshop, trying to figure out what the heart of the book that I’m knee-deep into writing is all about. It’s been hard, and I’ve been challenged in a lot of ways. stretched far beyond what I thought I was capable of. (It feels a little bit like I’m in that 4th trimester, only with a book instead of a baby, seeking my attention.) In the middle of a presentation yesterday led by the fantastic Laraine Herring, there was a slide with the following quote. I share it with you here, because I think it has applications for both writing and parenting:
“Value – when you think something’s worth something… Well, you think it’s worth something. So you show up.”
It doesn’t much matter what others think of the value of parenting or if they think it’s worth a little or a lot. It only matters if we think what we’re doing is worth something. And if we think parenting is worthwhile, then we should show up for it – whether or not we’re getting paid to do any of it!
Personally, I feel like parenting shouldn’t have a price tag on it.
Because it’s priceless.
Would it make you feel differently about parenting if there was a running tab being kept on how much your hard work was worth? Do you get caught up in whether or not others think your parenting has value, or not?