Why I'll Probably End Up Homeless

So far, B and I have two weddings lined up this summer. I mentioned this to my sister who remarked that I’m getting to be that age when all my friends will be getting married. I love weddings (minus the price tag of traveling and accommodations); alcohol, dancing, and seeing old friends and family? Twist my arm, why don’t ya - not to mention, having a reason to buy a new pair of shoes.

Weddings naturally raise the question of “what’s next” for many guests; they congratulate the happy couple, have a few too many drinks and figure, this looks easy enough, why not? For me, marriage isn’t a question in the back of my mind; I know I want it one day (unless I hit some quarter-life crisis in the next few months). The “what’s next” for me involves a little issue after the “I do” – children.

My feelings about kids are like Katy Perry’s hair color; constantly changing. One day I see a precious baby boy in the cutest little outfit with its little buttons and zippers and I think “I need to get me one of those.” Then I get behind a screaming infant in the check-out line and wonder how something so small can be so incredibly obnoxious.

But the real reason I keep going back in forth about having kids is much more practical: money. I know you don’t need loads of money to raise a happy, healthy child. But I wouldn’t want just one kid; after the relationship I have w/ my sisters, I would never want to deny my children siblings. And that’s where the problems start.

I’m currently reading Generation Me: Why Today’s Young American’s are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled – and More Miserable than Ever Before, by Jean M. Twenge, and besides really depressing me with all the issues my children would be dealing w/, it’s making me realize that I probably can’t even afford my life, let alone bring a few kids in the mix.

I’m not one to defend my generation. If you want to call us apathetic and disrespectful, go right ahead. The instant gratification we’re so accustomed to and constant praise we seek for everything we do (after being raised getting a gold star for everything we did) is going to result in a rude awakening for more than just a few. The sense of entitlement college kids have today literally stuns me. These kids think they’re going to graduate making $75k a year and refuse to accept anything less. And why shouldn’t they? They’ve been raised in classrooms w/ more inspirational posters than textbooks.

But calling us lazy? I will take offense to that. People want to say that we’re just a bunch of whining babies b/c we can’t find jobs and aren’t moving out of our parents’ home. Fuck that noise. While everything in this country is rising –health care, housing costs, grocery bills- the thing that should be increasing isn’t: salaries. Jobs are being eliminated or taking huge pay cuts. And don’t try to tell us that it was hard when you did it 40 years ago. Sure, life’s never been a cake-walk (unless you’re one of the 1%), but costs today aren’t even comparable to when our parents were young adults.

I could throw a bunch of interesting statics in here, but I’ve never been good remembering numbers (seriously, go read this book, it’s fascinating). But one anecdote left me speechless : In the early 1970’s, Twenge’s parents bought their first home for $23k – a little more than their combined annual income. When Twenge and her husband bought their first home in 2003, which was smaller than her parents’ first house, it was $390k. And two years later, that home was worth $550k. Is this a fucking joke?!

Housing costs are climbing higher and continue to surpass average rates of inflation. So don’t call our generation lazy and whiny b/c we can’t afford to get married and buy our first home and start a family the day after college graduation. At this rate, my decision to have kids or not will be made for me when I’m homeless in 10 years after not being able to afford my astronomical mortgage payment; probably not conducive to raising a well-adjusted family.


Michele said…
I wont blow sunshine up your ass and tell you that kids are easy or that there are days where its all roses- God knows that isnt true. It's a struggle and it's hard. Some of it deals with money, some of it doesnt. But it isnt impossible. We arent rich by a stretch but we make it work, and I'm grateful for every single sectond (even the sick ones, like we are having right now!) :)

As to the problems? There will always be issues. Its a shame we dont hold to the Tribal principle that we borrow the world from our children (because, if we did, Id like to think people would behave better!) but generations before felt much as those of us with kids do now (and those of us contemplating them in the future).