Money does matter

I don’t think poor people shouldn’t have kids, but I talk about a high household income earned mostly by Dad because money does matter in a world where people are always running away from their duties and obligations to people outside their immediate nuclear family.  Obviously yes, even in America you can totally raise six kids to adulthood on 20 thousand bucks a year.  But the big conservative lie around this is that it’s a middle class upbringing.

Further, refusal to accept that individualistic, disconnected society really does have high financial costs attached keeps a lot of families dancing without a net over a ravine.

Take the often promoted “telecommute in the boonies!” plan.  Well, where’s the internet to do that?  In most of rural America outside of city limits, high-speed, telecommuting-friendly internet is several hundred dollars a month, not fifty.  In practice, people “telecommuting” this way are either defining “suburb with large backyards” as “rural” or they are commuting the old fashioned way.

And if you live rurally, it is easier to let the kids scamper around while mom stays home with no other adults nearby doing stuff around the house.  But eventually the kids need to go places, and now mom is on the commute-train too.  Even the very rural homeschool types can’t actually sit at home all day every day and never leave until the youngest of nine is 18.

Having no money, and no ability to earn a large income leave the entire household vulnerable all the time.  Dad’s car breaks.  It’s a fix requiring shop access (car lift).  Those kinds of homes exist in rural areas, but they’re not the cheap ones you could afford because “how dare you suggest we not have mom stay home when dad’s earning capacity maxes out at 40k a year!”  A lot of people get forced into really tough positions a lot faster.  It can get really ugly really unexpectedly.

Like romanticizing herb lore because you can’t afford doctor visits for chronic ailments.  Or buying the kids off with cheap filling food because you aren’t really rural, but exurban and there’s nowhere safe for them to play (busy streets, no way to walk to the nearest open play area, and you’re a one-car household).

Money would matter less if everyone was aggressive about using the interwebs to maintain clannish-style community ties to keep people matched up if they were far-flung.  Or if living twenty to a 2000 square foot house was normal mode in America right now.

From both the comments and Shirley Jackson, homes used to be built with very small sleeping areas and larger shared spaces.  Shirley Jackson’s family moved into a home not much bigger than the 2500 square feet places of now, but it was split into four completely separate apartments, with very tiny sleeping areas, almost no built-in closet space and bigger social and cooking areas.  But large homes aren’t built or even modified this way anymore.

Money also wouldn’t matter if people accepted that leaving everything in the hands of one woman on the baby having and raising front will lead to fewer children if she’s really struggling and even if she personally isn’t because it always has and it’s even more the case with reliable contraception and sterilization and delaying marriage for those who take the other two options off the table.

This one’s pretty open for discussion.

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71 thoughts on “Money does matter

  1. Rejection of bourgeois life is one part of this, but that is treated as unappealing, and also hard to do because, once again, there is no community in many of these places. Acquiring land (or access) can be harder as well.

    I wonder if this might be the possible future for further foundations: helping create foundations for rural communities to prosper and flourish. That might be the best policy in the near future, as the benefits and advantages of these think tanks decline.

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    • I seriously think you’re the first man I’ve seen on the tradsphere to talk about implementing communities.

      Out of curiosity, why is there such an emphasis on rural life? Couldn’t it be possible to implement similar communities in suburban or city areas? I just don’t see the idea of everyone “trad” flocking to the country as realistic.

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  2. You hit on something here. And if I read another Internet harangue about all you need to keep a good house and homeschool 6+ kids is a Bible, a garden, a willing spirit and much prayer I might scream. And when are you supposed to have time for the amount of prayer you need not to go nuts trying to do it all, all by yourself?

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      • Nah, all you really need is a couple of imaginary kids and maybe some income sources you conveniently don’t mention 🙂 Preferably both.

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      • Seph said:

        “Nah, all you really need is a couple of imaginary kids and maybe some income sources you conveniently don’t mention:) Preferably both.”

        LOL!

        The imaginary kid thing never gets old.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Yeah.

    Here are some issues:

    1. My relative whose husband sometimes telecommutes from the suburbs often has to bundle up the baby and get out of the (large) house so daddy can get some work done. So, the price of daddy working at home can be that nobody else gets to be home…

    2. In the real country, if you can’t do stuff for yourself, it can be hard/expensive to get somebody out to do it for you.

    3. A farm or even farmette will have a lot of infrastructure to keep up (roads, fences, corrals, barns, etc.). Unless a family has good cash flow, the tendency will be for all of that stuff to slowly fall apart. Hence, the “picturesque” decay we’re all familiar with from drives in the country.

    4. The expense of basic transportation can be very substantial, in fact so substantial that it can wind up greatly limiting mom’s ability to go to “town.” On a limited income, trips to town even for groceries or to church become a major event, even when “town” itself is very small.

    5. My family-of-origin did the move-to-the-country thing when I was a tween (combined with a home building project and a new baby), and my mom probably had a depressive spell around that time. The move also made it less feasible for us kids to do any extracurricular activities. Getting to Wednesday night church every week was no longer a thing anymore.

    I enjoyed being a rural kid just fine at the time, but it was harder on my younger siblings, there were a lot of costs I didn’t realize at the time, and I wouldn’t do it to my kids. I really like having all of our basic needs (and a number of frills) within a 10 minute drive.

    6. There aren’t going to be a lot of kids to play with.

    7. Even if kids have friends at school, town friends probably won’t be driving 25 minutes out for playdates very often.

    8. Rural residents can be pretty shady. There’s a reason some people don’t want any neighbors close by…

    9. There’s a temptation to have teenagers do more driving than they ought to. Hence, the horrific death toll of rural teenage drivers.

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  4. I recently made a comment on another blog about marriage not being as economically attainable. Woman, I swear you read my mind this weekend.

    Obviously yes, even in America you can totally raise six kids to adulthood on 20 thousand bucks a year. But the big conservative lie around this is that it’s a middle class upbringing.

    I have half a mind to ask these “conservatives” what their thoughts are on families that do the “right traditional thing” and need welfare in order to supplement a single income.

    Otherwise, based on what a lot of the manospherians talk about, you should be able to have a middle class upbringing out in the middle of your parcel of land, living off the land, with your wife and 10 kids. Yeah, seriously?

    And if I read another Internet harangue about all you need to keep a good house and homeschool 6+ kids is a Bible, a garden, a willing spirit and much prayer I might scream. And when are you supposed to have time for the amount of prayer you need not to go nuts trying to do it all, all by yourself?

    It’s the Superwife!

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    • Maea said:

      “I have half a mind to ask these “conservatives” what their thoughts are on families that do the “right traditional thing” and need welfare in order to supplement a single income.”

      I was brought up in a poor no-welfare family to be very judgy about families that depended on welfare, but after reading a couple dozen stories of large struggling families, I don’t feel that way anymore.

      Now, I mostly feel judgy about parents that choose their pride over feeding and doctoring their children appropriately.

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      • The last couple years, I’ve been reconsidering the idea of “selfishness” as it gets used in conservative Catholic circles: i.e. wanting to have fewer children so as to give more to the ones you have.

        I’ve been thinking about this and realizing that I really don’t think it can be called “generosity” when one is trying to figure out what is the smallest possible amount of resources that one can get away with spending on each child.

        Come to think of it, it’s kind of an Orwellian use of the terms “selfishness” and “generosity.”

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      • I was thinking about the women bloggers who’ve talked about their welfare experiences. Cam talked about it a long time ago on her blog, and if I’m not mistaken didn’t Simcha Fischer have an experience about it? Or am I mistaking her for someone else?

        Also, in high school I was friends with a girl from a large family dependent on welfare. She, along with a few of her siblings, decided to forgo marriage in their 20’s and college to financially contribute. The contributions ended their dependency on welfare, but obviously it came with a price. To my knowledge, only her eldest sibling (by almost 10 years) is married.

        When you’re able to meet people IRL who’ve gone through these things, it’s hard to not change your perspective.

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  5. Maybe it’s daydreaming. I live in a suburban community with a tiny backyard in a place that it’s not safe for my 11yo to so much as go to the corner store for a candy bar without me in tow. How badly do you think I want to switch houses with you some days? The five minute commute to Trader Joe’s looks a lot less appealing from this side of the fence.

    And my mom tells me stories about growing up in rural areas, and growing her own food and romping in the pasture with the dogs and all… and it sounds so lovely… all that clean air… and water falling from the sky…

    “The grass is greener”.

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    • Wow. When my mom tells me stories about growing up in a rural area and a farm, she makes it sound like one of the levels of Dante’s Inferno. Then again she’s not from the US…

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    • “And my mom tells me stories about growing up in rural areas, and growing her own food and romping in the pasture with the dogs and all…”

      We had tree houses, lots of open space, scenic beauty, starry skies, cows and the ability to just cut across open fields to my great-grandma’s cabin about half a mile away.

      My parents somehow never got around to gardening (although that had been the plan–lots of silt was hauled in to make it possible), but my great-grandma had a well-established mini-homestead with a small orchard, blueberries, raspberries, red currants, strawberries, lots and lots of potatoes and parsnips plus geese, a dog, a cat, several horses, and various random critters.

      So, yeah, idyllic.

      But my sister and I had maybe two visits from a neighbor girl during the years we lived there. She eventually developed a heroin habit, though, so it probably wasn’t such a tragedy that we didn’t get to know each other better…We very rarely had any other visits from other children, either friends or family.

      I was kind of an anti-social kid, so moving us into the country was really not great for my social development, although I didn’t mind at all. My sister, who had much greater social needs and aptitude, chafed much more at the isolation.

      But we were, thank goodness, public schooled. Public school was kind of terrible, but my mom would not have been a success as a homeschooler.

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      • I guess I think of rural as “close to the city” rural. I know my mom would sometimes go home from school to her grandma’s house, which was in town, rather than taking the bus home. So – manageably close. And in a nice area of the country, not in the depths of big-ag monoculture. Small family farms, you know? I’ve been in big-farm country, totally different (and highly unpleasant) deal.

        But seriously. Some of us just want to get away from the crazy. And it’s fantasy sacrifice if you’ve never done it for *yourself*. You think, “well, what would I need to get there?” and then you start making deals with yourself, and it takes a fairly big face-plant to get your head right, if you ever do.

        FWIW my kids don’t get a ton of RL socialization that isn’t based on school (that one day a week) or church. Because they’re not allowed to go out front by themselves. Eventually we do make friends, and the moms drive the friends from house to house – 15yo’s most-likely-to-hangout-with-friend is 15 minutes by car away. That’s been true for decades. Most of my friends weren’t in the neighborhood we lived in, back in the ’80s and in a safe neighborhood where I was encouraged to wander a bit. So if you’re thinking “in town the grass is greener for socialization” – no, not so much.

        Cars. We’re totally dependent on cars. And therefore money. Returning to the OT. :p

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      • Hearthie said:

        “I guess I think of rural as “close to the city” rural.”

        That does exist (in our current area, you can drive five minutes out of a middle-sized city and suddenly be amongst the blue bonnets and long horns), but where I grew up, we were 20-25 minutes from school, church and the nearest gallon of milk, nearly two hours drive from the nearest movie theater and full-service medical care, and four hours from “the big city.”

        “I know my mom would sometimes go home from school to her grandma’s house, which was in town, rather than taking the bus home.”

        We also had a grandma and grandpa in town, which was VERY helpful. When I was in high school, I’d do after school stuff, walk across the field to grandma’s house, and then be picked up by my dad on his way home from work.

        This was a small logging/mill town more than a farming community (although there were a lot of little ranches carved out of the woods).

        “15yo’s most-likely-to-hangout-with-friend is 15 minutes by car away. That’s been true for decades. Most of my friends weren’t in the neighborhood we lived in, back in the ’80s and in a safe neighborhood where I was encouraged to wander a bit. So if you’re thinking “in town the grass is greener for socialization” – no, not so much.”

        It’s not a Big Deal, though.

        When I was a kid, any extra trip to town was like asking for the Hope Diamond.

        We live in a mid-sized city now (not the suburbs, actual city), my husband walks to work most days (for exercise and to avoid the parking situation), the big kids’ school is about a mile and a half away (which somehow takes 10 minutes during the school commute times)–we’re close enough that retrieving forgotten backpacks is not a major tragedy and we can do evening events at school without it being a big pain in the neck. We also have a number of fun recreational things within walking distance from our house. Fingers crossed, if the kids go to our hometown college, they’ll be able to walk to class.

        When we went into this, our theory was that we’d create a really small “work triangle” between home-work-school. The triangle saves us a lot of time and stress, but of course the housing itself is more expensive, and we do a lot of 15-20 minute drives across town to other destinations.

        “Cars. We’re totally dependent on cars. And therefore money. ”

        Right.

        And that’s true even when gas is cheap (as it is now).

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      • Hey, I live in SoCal. My husband commutes 45 min w/o traffic each way to work and we live in a city/burb of 200,000. :p But it’s what they call a bedroom community, people live here but work elsewhere.

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      • “Hey, I live in SoCal. My husband commutes 45 min w/o traffic each way to work and we live in a city/burb of 200,000. :p But it’s what they call a bedroom community, people live here but work elsewhere.”

        Bummer. I just described a million dollar house lifestyle in your area, didn’t I?

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      • Yes. :p Housing prices are getting progressively stupid again. You’re honestly talking about 1.5 mil or so, esp for a big house with a decent sized yard.

        If one wishes to play devil’s advocate – I do a lot of things in the local area, far more than most do. My gym is walking distance, and so is light rail that would take my son to walking-distance from his school. The grocery store would be rather a hike, but if we had to do it, we *could*.

        But they took away school buses about 10 years ago for everyone but special ed. And it’s been 15 to 20 for the Jr/Sr High students. Husband used to walk from our house to the HS – takes about an hour, goes through some “interesting” areas. Junior high same. (There have been girls who have been subject to attempted abductions on the main route). Those are the public schools, not the charter. Am I saying that kids don’t walk? Nope. I see ’em. Probably building great character. Hopefully. (Okay, no. You know the stats on when kids get in trouble).

        I have no idea how moms w/out cars do it. I don’t know how moms manage to work even with their kids in PS – they have half-days on Wed all the way through Jr. High, random holidays and whatnot, and of course they’re out of school well before work hours are over. Sure, some go to daycare or the YMCA or library or some such. But the rest just go home. And the good kids sit and watch TV and stay inside and the bad kids don’t go home… or don’t go home alone.

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      • “I guess I think of rural as “close to the city” rural.”

        Feel like swapping coasts? 🙂

        I think you maybe able to find what you’re looking for around certain parts of the Northeast where there are lots of urbanites looking for what you want. It may lean a bit exurban for our host’s tastes, but it’s theoretically possible with some of those people commuting to the urban core for work. Otherwise, the ones who really want to go rural just go to Vermont and hide out there.

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      • Well, one issue of rural life is that when I think of “rural” I think of the village dotted with small productive farms. In many countries a farm was 2-3 acres. It sufficed with highly intensive cultivation and highly productive crops. Indeed, at the time one of my professors was in northern Japan many years ago that was the norm.

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      • And there is no “rural isolation” in this environment. It is quite the opposite situation. Individualists had one option in life: move to the American west, and deal with a different set of problems. Now, of course, they have the anonymity of the city.

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  6. Hearthie said:

    “But they took away school buses about 10 years ago for everyone but special ed. And it’s been 15 to 20 for the Jr/Sr High students.”

    NOOOOOOOO!

    We do private school, have two different drop-offs and two-different pickups and Baby Girl and I practically live in the carpool line. I had thought that at least with public school, you get the big yellow bus…

    “(Okay, no. You know the stats on when kids get in trouble).”

    Yeah.

    “I have no idea how moms w/out cars do it. I don’t know how moms manage to work even with their kids in PS – they have half-days on Wed all the way through Jr. High, random holidays and whatnot, and of course they’re out of school well before work hours are over.”

    Yep.

    We didn’t have a car when we lived in WA DC proper. I’d walk our oldest to pre-K in a stroller 20 minutes there (leaving the baby with daddy), walk home 20 minutes, and then in the afternoon, walk the toddler in the double stroller 20 minutes, pick up our oldest, then walk 20 minutes back with the two in the stroller. Just doing that consumed a big chunk of my day, but we also had the opportunity to play on the school playground after school and hang out with other families, which was nice. My buddy who lived outside the neighborhood and had to drive would fight rush hour traffic for an hour across town, drop off her pre-Ker, and then spend the rest of the day with her toddler on our side of town–with it being an hour each way, it wasn’t worth going home. (This was a good public DC elementary school in one of DC’s nicer neighborhoods, so it was well worth the time she was investing–private school in DC costs a lot.)

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  7. I have no idea how moms w/out cars do it.

    For comparison purposes, some of the big urban school districts around here (New York City and Newark) rely on the public transit system to be the school bus network. Some routes have supplemental service at school times to handle the crush loads from some large high school complexes. IIRC, in NYC, after third grade, kids are no longer given school buses unless or they’re in special education or in some special arrangement. I don’t know how that arrangement can work where you live Hearthie given that your public transit is nowhere near as good as ours.

    In my suburb of Long Island, school bus service was ended for elementary school students due to recent budget cuts. The board basically rigged the requirement to make impossible, so with the exception of Catholic school students, parents must either walk or drive to school. Mind you, *everybody* around here drives as there’s minimal public bus service.

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  8. I swear, I never wish for “the old days”. NEVER. I don’t want to live too isolated from other people – I telecommute and get enough cabin fever – if I couldn’t walk outside and see another human, it would be horrible; I like my appliances which do work FOR me. I like having time to read, hang out with the hubs (and occasionally the girls when I’m not ready to kill them); I’m glad there’s not much lawn to mow and that I’m near 7 grocery stores (8, if you count StuffMart); and a 24-hour Walgreens and bunches of takeout places and a downtown with tons of cultural events. Sure, public transport is kind of iffy – but Angharad is taking the bus downtown to college. I’m glad I live near 3 hospitals and that it only takes 10 minutes to get to Mass (when I can make myself get there).

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    • If you ask me Maeve, I don’t think “the good old days” were really that good. I’ve read a lot of historical trends, along with first hand accounts of the old days and I can tell you the experience factor is highly skewed. Hint: women are often the ones who’re brave enough to share the nitty gritty.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Hmmmmm…this discussion is right in the money for me, as usual.
    We are finally in the market for a house, but now that we can finally look it’s making me want to pull my hair out. I grew up in an idyllic country setting (NOT family), and want a big yard so bad for my kids. There are GORGEOUS places just 5-10 minutes out of my small community, but most are too much house and too costly. But the in-town homes we actually like that are move-in ready are a) what we can barely afford or b) amazing but in need of SERIOUS work and in iffy neighborhoods. The crime really isn’t that bad but the way my in-laws act makes me nervous to even mention we are considering these neighborhoods–and sadly, the presence of black kids outside, playing and riding bikes without parents in the immediate vicinity would be all it would take for CERTAIN PEOPLE to question our desire to love in what we see as a pretty decent neighborhood. It makes me go back and forth–the lifestyle depicted above by Maeve (I think it was her) is what I want if we are in town, and I want sidewalks–all the “nice” neighborhoods here do not have them–and neighbors and porches and such. But since I have 3 girls and will be at home all day I just get kinda nervous, based on no facts, but just the general alarm raised when we mention we are looking at homes on “that side” of this or that street.
    It seriously is driving me bonkers. And that makes me want to just live in the country where I don’t have to worry about any of it…but yeah. Isolation? Not working for me. Just being one car on a busy road with no sidewalks and tiny kids makes me wayyyyy more isolated than is good.
    I kinda hate card right now. Notwithstanding the fact that I can’t even nap on my couch cause the traffic is RIGHT THERE.

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    • The U.S. is a country really built for cars, not for people. Definitely not for people who like to use their legs in this thing called walking.

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  10. Amazing, the research on not sitting and walking lately. Not.

    I just had the privilege of listening to MIL talk about how her mom, who also had 4 kids (had them further apart, didn’t breastfeed them, etc–but of course some of the significant differences between she and I were not taken into account during the course of the discussion) really, truly WAS able to do it all. By herself. No babysitters. Oh yeah and she didn’t homeschool either, but…my sister pointed out this morning, “Yes, and she probably rarely touched her kids as well.” Kinda-sorta joking. This was following an admonition (truly offered as kind-hearted advice, I KNOW it was, but still…I’ve been trying to do what she was advising US to do for years…her son is just not really on board/concerned with it like I am and I have serious sleep deprivation that makes motivation difficult) that we should get our family “on a schedule.” Um, yes. I know. I try. All the time. I just completely, utterly, suck at it.

    Anyway, I came across this in a recipe book I have called “Extending the Table” (laughably, a lot of the advice and bits of wisdom in this book, based off of missionaries’ stories and experiences, seems to be just the right fit for these conservatives who think 10 kids on 30, 40k a year is totally doable) that I thought you all would connect with:
    “Solitude is not happiness. Solitude kills. Life together is happiness; it is joy. We Wodaabe like to live with others. At times we accept living alone so that our heard can find their joy in good pastures. But in the rainy season, it is different…No one can live outside the clan.

    The months of the rainy season are the best months of the year…especially for us women. In the dry season, we hardly ever see anyone. We stay in the house, and the camps are far from each other. The men see each other at the wells. But we wait with impatience for the arrival of the first rains. This means that the clan will come together again.

    During the drought, our greatest suffering was the dispersion of the clan. That year there was no rainy season and therefore the clan did not come together. But God helped us. After a silence of two years, after the suffering, joy came again. We were able to meet again in the bush during the rainy season.

    Oh that God will lead us have many more rainy seasons in the midst of the clan! Oh that God will enable us to live together in joy.”
    –Boudaado woman of the nomadic Wodaabe tribe, Niger

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nicky said:

      “but…my sister pointed out this morning, “Yes, and she probably rarely touched her kids as well.””

      Funny! But probably uncomfortably close to the truth.

      I take it MIL didn’t have four children herself…

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  11. Nope. Ha ha. My husband was just about an only child too. His brothers are over a decade older than he is (2 of ’em), and they were 4 years apart themselves. So at least there’s the realization that she and I aren’t to be compared.

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    • Nicky said:

      “My husband was just about an only child too. His brothers are over a decade older than he is (2 of ’em), and they were 4 years apart themselves.”

      Ah, so that’s where the “put them on a schedule” stuff is coming from.

      When my two oldest were little (3 and 0 through 4 and 1) I used to get the worst grief from one of the grandpas in our family, whose two children, I eventually realized, were TEN years apart. Grandpa used to mumble, “Lots of women have five children and do JUST FINE,” which, in retrospect, was actually kind of funny.

      It was less funny at the time, when I was trying to be Super Awesome Catholic Daughter-in-Law.

      Liked by 2 people

      • And here’s the funny thing–my in-laws now believe that we (and especially I) are living saints to have a whole whopping three children.

        Needless to say, it’s much easier to have a 13-year-old, 11-year-old and 3-year-old (or a 10-year-old, 7-year-old and infant) than it was to have a toddler and an infant.

        I feel like the baptism of fire that is caring for both a toddler and infant at the same time largely explains why so many families stop at two.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Concerning the OT, having been in the exurban trying to make it no not on 40 but yes on 31 a year 3 kids one car–whenever you go do stuff, it’s a very difficult task. Trying to grocery shop is an entire other story. But one thing that having such a small income did to me for years was, if I cooked breakfast, got everyone ready, and say, decided to take my littles to the library and then the park, it would be lunchtime by the time I needed to make the long drive home. And it was so nice to actually get out, I didn’t want to go home, but I had to–to go make lunch. Because we couldn’t afford for me to take my kids out to get any food anywhere while out. Which pushed back nap time. Which pushed back, oh, yeah, everything else. And this is all just a 2-3 hour trip to just do simple things. I wasn’t going shopping. Very rarely, I would take them to Chick-Fil-A or something, but that was like 3-4 times a YEAR that I would allow myself to do that on those outings. Because I knew the numbers we were dealing with. And we didn’t have and have not had any debt whatsoever since our oldest was born.

    It took a monumental amount of self-control for me to say no to myself in the ways required to be able to not go into debt with that many kids on such a small income. And I had trained myself to do so in the 4 or so years prior to marriage while I was paying off my credit card and school debt.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nicky said:

      “It took a monumental amount of self-control for me to say no to myself in the ways required to be able to not go into debt with that many kids on such a small income.”

      I feel like the manosphere guys just don’t get that–that there is a significant psychological toll taken just by all the financial self-denial involved in sticking to a budget and making the budget work.

      And that applies to virtually all income levels (although obviously the consequences for failing are higher the lower you are).

      Liked by 2 people

  13. I could say a whole lot more but just now I thought: “Next: let’s talk about cloth diapers, shall we?”

    Just about everything a mother can do to save money to make small incomes (barely) feasible adds on to her already overwhelming workload.

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    • Poverty really is drudgery. It’s constant “making-do” and it sucks the life out of you. we were really poor for a while – one income and two kids and nope – not worth it. Sure I hated that kids were in daycare when I went back to work FT, but nobody complained that we ran the heat or air conditioning and the washing machine and the dryer; no one complained that we ate 3 meals a day. No one complained that if someone needed shoes we bought them. No one complained that every waking moment wasn’t a constant evaluation of whether or not this “one little thing” would send us over the edge.

      I hated every second I missed of my kids’ lives. I don’t miss one nanosecond of poverty.

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      • Maeve said:

        “I hated every second I missed of my kids’ lives. I don’t miss one nanosecond of poverty.”

        CLAP CLAP CLAP.

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        • Of course, that is precisely the problem with our system of opportunity costs: there is a way out of poverty now, and it involves deliberate separation from family. And that is the best choice, to many.

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      • Ideally, those would not have been necessary choices, however. It is no surprise, IMHO, that people would eventually avoid having children in such a system if that is what it takes to get by (and that is what appears to have happened in many cases).

        Liked by 1 person

      • Anymouse Said:

        “Of course, that is precisely the problem with our system of opportunity costs: there is a way out of poverty now, and it involves deliberate separation from family. And that is the best choice, to many.”

        I’m not entirely sure how to read this.

        Was it a better choice to go to work and not have our home foreclosed on and potentially face homelessness? Yes, I think so. Was it better to go to work so the children had food and clothes and medical insurance? Yes, I think so. See, I’m extremely glad that there was a way out of poverty for us and that we were strong enough to take it.

        Like

  14. Obviously yes, even in America you can totally raise six kids to adulthood on 20 thousand bucks a year. But the big conservative lie around this is that it’s a middle class upbringing.

    Another thing you read is about women who raised 6 kids on 30K (think Amy Dacyzyn), without making adjustments for the fact that she did it in the late 80’s early 90’s when 30K was far more than it is now.

    Needless to say, it’s much easier to have a 13-year-old, 11-year-old and 3-year-old (or a 10-year-old, 7-year-old and infant) than it was to have a toddler and an infant.

    Having had 3 kids under 2, and then two more a decade later after the first three were teens, I can say with certainty that this is true. Babies 4 and 5 were still work (I still had to nurse them and live on less sleep for 2 years), but they were nowhere near the work they would have been if “babies” 1-3 weren’t old enough to help around the house.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Elspeth said:

      “Another thing you read is about women who raised 6 kids on 30K (think Amy Dacyzyn), without making adjustments for the fact that she did it in the late 80’s early 90’s when 30K was far more than it is now.”

      I suspect that failing to account for inflation contributes a lot to oldsters’ lack of compassion for the plight of the younger generation.

      Liked by 2 people

  15. Here’s something I came across today:

    http://adhdrollercoaster.org/tools-and-strategies/chapter-4-its-only-money-honey/

    “I couldn’t understand why he’d buy expensive tools for his hobbies (or camping gear, or musical instruments) and yet had no problem with me getting public assistance when we “qualified” for it. I often wondered if I was the only wife in the food stamp or WIC line whose husband had a PhD, some great guitars, and no food in the house.”

    “He was opposed to childcare on principle—no stranger would raise our children! So it “only made sense” for me to keep working that nightshift call center job. Besides, we wouldn’t be paying for daycare, so that was a real benefit, right?

    “I don’t think I slept for years.

    “Did I mention, we had three children under 5 years old, two with medical issues that required constant monitoring?”

    Their story had a happy ending, though. Yay!

    Like

  16. Another anti-natalist thought… if women’s worth is only in their beauty, how well they play the game OR in how much $$ they bring in (more like both), then how likely are they to have lots of fat happy babies? Because you *can* improve your skills in “women’s work” while you’re at home with the kids. And then when they grow up, you find out you’re Prov 31ing. But if that’s not “real work”, has no value – well, you really want to get back in the Game of courtship or Game of Mammon, just to find your value.

    We have devalued women’s traditional work, exported them and made them into hobbies around here. I met a woman at ASG who can reweave a suit, do any alterations, sew, crochet, knit, etc, in other words an expert at her trade, and she was scootched out of her business when stores stopped having alterations departments. Now? All she can do with her mountains of skill is hope that one of her children or grandchildren develop an interest before she passes on.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Maybe I’ve driven off the topic cliff here, or just not understanding, but I think what also happens is (and I saw this with my mother) that once her children were grown (and moved out/off to college) and her husband retired, she was completely at loose ends and didn’t know what to do with herself. It was not easy for her because it was like she’d been demoted – no longer managing a busy household and my father’s (personal) schedule. In fact, she did take a part time job just to have something more to do.

      Also (and it was pretty short-lived and rather humorous to watch) when my Dad retired and suddenly had all this time on his hands, he rather began interfering with my mother’s running of the household, which annoyed the crap out of her; finally got to the point that she said, “OK, you do it” and then took herself off to whatever and left him to his own devices. Lasted less than a month. Seems she knew what she was doing after all, LOL. They soon did work out their new life pattern, but it involved some surprising growing pains for them both.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sure. And no one thinks about that because not-working is supposed to be so awesome. Transition is always a pain in the tuckus, no matter what transition it is. Let’s all just ostrich up and pretend that it’s not. That will make life go more smoothly, I’m sure. :p

        Liked by 2 people

  17. I don’t miss being broke either. It’s not as romantic or easy as people make it out to be. When my youngest hit kindergarten, it finally made financial sense for me to get a job. Having been out of the workforce for 10+ years, it wasn’t a well paying job (obviously, no one cares how great you were at housewiving when you go back to the workforce; all those cheerily ignorant bloggerpeople who tell you “you just have to spin it right!” have no idea what that are talking about. Interviewers will look at you like you have three heads when you attempt it)

    But my crummy little job is the difference between my family of six “getting by” on about 50k and my family “doing pretty well!” on 75k (low COL area.) We can afford an extracurricular activity that costs a few hundred bucks without examining our consciences lol And, as our kids get bigger, I can hopefully increase my earnings. (My husband picked a field that’s just never going to bring in big bucks. It’s not who he is. That said, he IS extremely involved on the home front!)

    As a SAHM I mostly financially contributed by economizing and saying no to everything… but there are limits to how hard you can squeeze a dollar without making everyone miserable and it seems to get less and less feasible as the kids get bigger. Daddy’s paycheck does NOT necessarily keep up with the increasing food bills and extracurriculars and college, etc. To say nothing of eventual retirement.

    Granted, I never intended to stay home forever, but I’m relieved to be back in the game, even if my job is sometimes kind of annoying. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    • it’s all about the lincolns said:

      “It’s not as romantic or easy as people make it out to be.”

      Yeah. You’ll notice that the romance mostly comes in viewing it in the rearview mirror.

      “As a SAHM I mostly financially contributed by economizing and saying no to everything… but there are limits to how hard you can squeeze a dollar without making everyone miserable and it seems to get less and less feasible as the kids get bigger.”

      Right. I grew up with my mom saying “no” to virtually everything (right down to any folder that wasn’t a Peechee folder), to the point where I eventually just stopped asking for pretty much anything. That was undoubtedly much easier on my parents, but I wound up with a really pinched and stunted sense of what was possible in life, plus a horror of asking any question that “no” is likely to be the answer to. (See Annette Lareau’s Unequal Childhoods for similar examples.) And, sadly, that didn’t even teach frugality–as a 20-something bride, I was actually pretty shockingly bad with money–because there’d been no decision-making or budgeting process taught, just “no.”

      Love the username!

      Liked by 1 person

      • My parents both worked and spent money like water, even bragging about how they could lose an entire paycheck and still be fine (it literally flew out the window one day and took weeks to be reissued).

        But I remember very strongly that meat was restricted. We always had it, but the portions were very small and controlled. Which I think goes to the larger points, all of us who aren’t 20 right now grew up with parents who imposed some really major restriction on spending even if they were objectively middle-class (my parents made 100k in current wages and by the time I went to college were making what would probably be close to 200k adjusted now, after taxes.)

        But unlike most of their generation, they didn’t have 4-6 kids, they only had two, so they were able to make a lot of financial mistakes and still fail up into decent paying work. And that’s definitely no longer on the table even if both parents work.

        Like

      • Thanks!

        YES, the pinched and stunted mentality! That is also how I grew up… You think you are sort of unworthy to even exist and NO that does not lead to an adulthood where you make solid bourgeois financial or life decisions. It’s not exercising prudent discipline for a better future, it’s flagellating yourself for taking up space! Since you can’t stop existing you are trapped in an absurd nihilistic game that, with any luck, you can teach to your own children! Yay lol

        Re: educated men looking for non college-educated women: My husband had a bachelors degree and I did not, and it was a BIG deal to him that I finish college. He openly says he’d been looking for someone older, more stable, with more education: like his friends’ wives! but I guess I was cute and insistent.

        He was dismayed when I dropped out after marriage in favor of having a baby every 18 months and after the last one, he got a vasectomy with little discussion so I would stop it.

        He was enormously supportive when I finally went back to school. When I got a graduate degree, he made a way bigger fuss about it than I’d have believed humanly possible.

        There are certainly guys who don’t care out there… but I was genuinely surprised how much this mattered to him.

        I think back on myself as a young wife and realize that a lot of my “poor” mentality was actually pretty embarrassing to him.

        “Education doesn’t matter, wearing stained old clothes doesn’t matter, buying a house is for rich people lol! No one ever has enough money for kids so who cares if we have six?” I mean, that sounds so poor and trashy and ignorant now but I really thought a lot of that when I was 25 😦

        Meantime he’s trying to be kind and understanding to his clearly insane young wife… but is catching hell from his parents about his raggedy wife and kids and weirdly unfurnished house.

        You know?!

        Ah life

        Liked by 2 people

      • it’s all about the lincolns said:

        “You think you are sort of unworthy to even exist and NO that does not lead to an adulthood where you make solid bourgeois financial or life decisions.”

        Yeah.

        ““Education doesn’t matter, wearing stained old clothes doesn’t matter, buying a house is for rich people lol! No one ever has enough money for kids so who cares if we have six?” I mean, that sounds so poor and trashy and ignorant now but I really thought a lot of that when I was 25”

        And depressive!

        “Meantime he’s trying to be kind and understanding to his clearly insane young wife… but is catching hell from his parents about his raggedy wife and kids and weirdly unfurnished house.”

        Poor guy!

        Liked by 2 people

      • Actually there’s NOTHING romantic about poverty – and the only people (IMHO) who would claim it is, have either never been actually poor (lights shut off, etc.) or don’t really mean “poor” – they mean having “modest needs met”.

        Sometime (quite a while ago) I meandered on to a site (and I can’t remember which one) where the ladies were waxing poetic about (SHMG) their extreme frugality by way of not buying/using toilet paper and/or feminine hygiene products – but instead they used “cloths”. And this was touted and encouraged as a good thing – a downright virtue. Well, I don’t give a rat’s ass if it makes me a mercenary, materialistic shallow waster-of-husband’s-hard-earned-money – I’m not giving up the Charmin.

        Liked by 1 person

  18. Anyway, I think one thing that might encourage young women to spend several years at home having babies would be to take them seriously when/if they come back to work. I think there is a sizable minority of women who have the temperament and means to stay home as a lifelong vocation no matter what the sacrifice, but many don’t and thus avoid having kids or staying home at all since the re-entry penalties are so steep. It think it’d be better to have most women do a few years as a SAHM tour of duty and then return to work, then have a dwindling and increasingly scary-weird few accept it as a lifelong vow of poverty lol.

    Who knows; if it weren’t such a terrifyingly stark choice between work and home FOR LIFE, more moms might decide they LIKE the domestic sector. 😉

    Kind of like what happened with homeschooling: it used to be weird and stigmatized and had this aura of angry persecution complex around it (often for good reason!) but now it’s a lot more of a healthy social ecosystem, since people can and do hop back and forth between HS and public/private without a ton of friction. Everyone know a homeschooling family or two, or a homeschooled adult who turned out fine. It’s been good for the public system where I live, too– they can’t get away with treating the kids or parents like hamburger meat, since parents can go “oh well, we are homeschooling now; call us when you get yr act together”

    Liked by 2 people

    • I don’t like solutions that Western Europe has adopted. It’s not just what it does to the birth rate, why do we have to continue propping up the current megacorp thing by making everyone have to get out into the workforce OR ELSE POVERTY?

      I get to see a few housewives for life, they aren’t poor, they have such a different perspective.

      Like

      • I hear you, but conservatives are mostly unsympathetic to arguments that jobs should pay a living wage (even for one person, let alone a family supporting wage!) and liberals are queasy about housewives… so an extended and dignified maternity sabbatical model is, imo, a midpoint that at least offers some respect to the people who are actually producing the next generation. Ignoring the issue doesn’t seem to be creating tons of prosperous large families either. I know so many young women who’d be great moms of great kids and really bring some normalcy and clout to the housewife role if they tried it and stuck around for awhile, plus become real pillars of the community… but quitting their jobs would make them both temporarily and probably permanently downwardly mobile so they sensibly won’t entertain the idea of taking even two or three years off. They see what happens to women who do THAT, thank you very much!

        You have to be married to a guy who makes six figures to not take a big, lasting hit, even in Flyover Land. (And there are… not that many of those guys, ha)

        That said, I’m not super worried about birth rates– we don’t even have enough decent paying jobs for the people that exist so I’m not that excited about getting people to have more kids than their existing situations can reasonably support (If the next generation is tanner than the current one, I’m fine with that too lol)

        I’m just saying, all that Motherhood Is The Most Important Job Ever lip service is embarrassing but wouldn’t be if future employers could see “transferable skills and values!”‘instead of “icky goopy mommy stuff”

        If conservatives are the savvy economists they claim to be, they’d know that what you pay for, you get more of. What you give cheap lip service to and reward with poverty, you get less of!

        Liked by 2 people

        • I was going to come back and add to my original comment, which was cut off by rampaging toddlers, but of course I forgot exactly what I was going to add in. I think just that the housewives for life I know are comfortable financially and have active social and community roles. But (caveat time!) they are all over 55, most over 65. We can’t go back, but we can go forward less awfully. I would prefer women not be required to maintain housewife-level cleaning standards and work full time outside the home, which is the situation for the double income women around me. Well, not the immigrant ones, they get to have servants or relatives.

          The birth rates thing is important because you still need little taxpayers to come from somewhere and global promotion of birth control means that you can’t rely on immigrants for much longer to do the job.

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