Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Love vs. Care

I typically ramble, I know...but I feel even more prone to it tonight. Swimming thoughts + writing them down = word vomit.

So...swimming thoughts...where do I begin?

A phrase has been going through my mind the last few weeks: Love is free, but care is expensive. I think I made it up, I don't know. It's not that fabulous, so if someone wants it, they can have it.

I keep thinking about how babies are born just wanting things like snuggles, mama milk, silly songs sung to them, and clothes to keep them warm. All the fancy stuff is mostly for mom. Jack's super cool, fabulous nursery that I drooled over during his pregnancy? He didn't give one whit about it. And, he slept next to us most of the time. So there you go.

Love is free.

A few hand-me-down clothes, thrift store holiday clothes for photos, and you can definitely get by on a shoestring for babes.

"Care" on the other hand...holy crap.

Teeth are expensive. Being well researched enough to seek out medical care that isn't standard practice? Holy crap. We pay for almost everything out of pocket medically, until insurance catches up.

Do I want to do things differently? Nah, not really. Once I learn about Ozone dentistry, the old way seems almost criminal to teeth. And short-sighted. Since I can only operate in future-orientedness (pretty sure that's not a word), the short-sighted stuff doesn't work well for me.

So I'm now going to be driving my children 5 hours to Philly every three months for a dentist.


Jack's immunotherapists - out of pocket. The testing the other week? Very, very out of pocket. And then throw in things like fostering his self-selected love for Russian, and the thrift store baby clothes are starting to make sense. It saved money for his Russian lessons and designer teeth.

So I've been thinking: What do parents do even if they love their child (free), but can't do things like dental care (not at all free)? That discord between what you want for your child and what you can give them must be devastating. And yet, does the Care part really matter as much in the end?

I don't love my child more than if I neglected his teeth because of finances, but it's because I love them so much that I delve into the research and find the best possible specialists for them.

It makes me wonder what the various paths of the same parent-child relationship would look like. I *know* Russian is optional in his life, but he loves it. So I'm packing up our entire family to do the Family Weekend in February. On paper, the cost of that looks silly. Why? You'd almost have to insure that the child is 100% certain of future fluency to rationalize that cost. And yet we're doing that as a family with no expectations. He could still quit next month and it was worth it.

Maybe it's just about showing our kids that we care about their interests? So is that Love or Care?

I still remember the trip out East when I was 8 and had just been in the Thomas Jefferson play and fell in love with him as a historical figure. So my parents took me to Univ of Virginia, Monticello, etc etc. That the memory stuck means something to me. It feels like love, but childhood could have had as much love if they didn't have the funds to plan road trips around my current interests.

Clearly, this is still a thought-train in process, as I have no clue where I'm heading with this.

Just wondering how much of our extra efforts and expenses in parenting really aren't what matter at all. It's the small potatoes, compared to the Big Stuff like being emotionally present, modeling kindness, etc.

So when I feel the sense of OMG-kids-are-so-freakin'-expensive...maybe I need to remind myself that I'm moving up Maslow's hierarchy, and this isn't the stuff that matters at all. It makes parenting more fun and fulfilling, but it doesn't really fuel the child's soul.

But they'll have absolutely lovely teeth to show for it all. :)

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