There is a lot of information floating around the internet and society in general about the cost of having children.  For many, the financial drain of having kids plus the emotional toll and the disruption to one’s sleep and schedule is just not worth it.

Alright.  Fair enough.

The numbers quoted in those articles are inflated far above reality, but I won’t argue that kids aren’t expensive.

What We Don't Have: The Joy and Expense of Having Kids

We have five kids, and there are plenty of things that we don’t have.  We don’t live in the town we would prefer, for starters.  Instead, we live in an area where large family homes are much more affordable.  Our dishwasher is currently broken.  We will replace it soon, but my husband has been out of work for a month so we are choosing not to spend out of savings until after his new job starts next week.  If we were double-income-no-kids, I’m sure we’d have a shiny new one already.  Our carpet is old and dirty, and much of the furniture we own is second hand.  We bought a brand new van two years ago (our first new car!), and it lost it’s new car smell after about two months.  Maybe less.

All of our needs are provided for, but we don’t have vacations to Europe.  In fact, we rarely leave Texas.  We don’t have a pool or a beautiful backyard.  Our swing set has seen better days.  In fact, that’s why we carefully avoid it when taking blog photos!  Our fence is sagging.  My husband drives a late model car with a leaking door, and he has to bring along a towel on rainy days.

If we had less children, or none at all, we could sure accumulate more and nicer possessions.  But the thing is that all of that is just stuff, and we are blessed to have people.

Thanksgiving 2015

What We Don't Have

See that medical looking device on Aidan’s arm?  Broken collarbone.  Set us back over $700.  Big hit to the new carpet fund.

But the Lord was faithful to provide exactly what we needed to pay those bills.

“Behold, children are a gift of the LORD,

the fruit of the womb is a reward.”

Psalm 127:3

What if it said, “Behold, new carpet is a gift of the Lord…”  Doesn’t exactly have the same ring to it, does it?  Oh, new carpet is a gift from God’s hand as well.  We will be thankful when we finally order it!  But in God’s eyes, it’s not even close to being the highest priority.  People are more important than things.

But still, children are an expensive gift that cost us in many ways.  Not only do they require our resources, but they are also a gift that comes with a need for tremendous love and service.  Why?  Why does God give us such needy creatures?

Maybe it’s that God uses our children to renovate our hearts (instead of our houses) and to rid us of our selfishness, as He enables us to serve through the noise and the bickering and the spilled juice and teaches us to love a little person more than we love cleanliness and order and getting our own way.

What We Don't Have

Are we not needy ourselves?  Are we not in need of our Father’s resources?  As we toil endlessly for our children only to watch them disregard our correction at times, we are reminded of God’s great love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).  New kitchen countertops and a farm sink just like on Fixer Upper might be beautiful, but those things will never provide us that same perspective.

And after all, the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.  The world says that happiness is found in the pursuit of comfort and things, but God says that true joy is found in the pursuit of Him. And to be His child means that we serve as He served.  As mothers, we are tempted to balk at that and think, “I can’t!  I’ve already given up so much!  If I have to change ANOTHER poopy diaper or break up another squabble or put off something I want to pay for yet another pediatrician visit…”

And God answers us with this, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)  If we are willing, we can see the unfailing hand of our Heavenly provider as His power is made clear in the midst of our weakness to provide for our children.

What We Don't Have

Often, all that is needed is to stop seeing what we don’t have and just open our eyes to what we do.

A comfortable home with space for everyone.

Plenty of furniture and even a whole room just for homeschooling.

Nourishing food to eat.

Access to medical care when we need it.

A reliable van.

A yard that backs up to a creek.

Books to read.

Toys to play with.

Musical instruments to enjoy.

Five beautiful children.

Maybe what we don’t have is not such a big deal after all…

Happy Mother’s Day, friends!

P.S. For Mother’s Day, my guys and Janie gave me a professional van detailing!  They got it amazingly clean and conditioned the leather seats with some kind of stuff that made it smell new again!

12 Comments

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  1. Buffy May 8, 2016

    Well said.

    Reply
    1. Susan urmanic Mar 20, 2019

      Your articles are so filled with love for life and family.I enjoy this so much.Thank you

      Reply
    2. Leah Bush May 8, 2016

      As a mom of 6 kids, 4 of those being teenagers, we also don't have a lot of stuff. I know the pressures they face to have the latest of the greatest, but I feel they are learning life lessons on how to manage money, patience in getting what they have saved for and compromise. They are also learning how to work for the extras and determine what is important to buy. I wouldn't trade my big family for all the fancy cars, exotic vacations or stylish clothes! Thanks for writing a post I can relate to in a significant way!

      Reply
      1. Tagen May 8, 2016

        Beautifully said. My husband and I are considering a non-traditional family through fostercare and are worried about the cost.. we just cant seem to find the answer to when the "right time" is. We prayed about it and applied and it is all in Gods hands now, but we are very nervous about the cost. You just put it all back into perspective for me :) thank you!

        Reply
        1. Sarah May 11, 2016

          Thank you for your kind words! And I hope that you will be able to impact little lives through your foster care journey! God will provide! Maybe not always in the way you thought, but He always takes care of His children. :-)

          Reply
        2. Jane May 8, 2016

          What a wonderful post! Echoes our families feelings exactly. We have a favourite book, the Bernstain Bears Count Their Blessings... And i thought of it as i read your post today. Thank you for a great end to mothers day.

          Reply
          1. Alice Mahan May 9, 2016

            Yes!!! You are an excellent writer, Sarah!

            Reply
            1. Sarahelisabeth May 9, 2016

              Absolutely. It does hurt though when others judge us by the lack of new carpet and choose to ignore the busy home with children and friends. I guess that we have to learn to care more about God's perspective.

              Reply
              1. Wendy Walker May 11, 2016

                Thank you for sharing these pictures of your family. They were such a blessing to me!

                Reply
                1. Pritika Gupta May 13, 2016

                  Hey Sarah,

                  I am your big fan and also a promoter of your website in my area :).. I have a different challenge, I am full time working mother with a single kid.. I am planning to extend my family but for us challenge is not money but time.. so yep time is cost of raising a big family.. You website provides me with lot of relief as I get one stop shop for getting all the fun activities which keep me and my son busy and also help us in spending some quality time together!
                  A big thank you! and that You are amazing! and You are a star !

                  Reply
                  1. Jenny May 17, 2016

                    Very sweet and touching. Tonight putting my three small children to bed felt like one of those whack-a-mole games at arcades and it was nice to read your post and be reminded of the blessing they are.

                    As an aside, since you kept mentioning new carpet as one of your wants, I wanted to tell you our solution to dirty carpet. When we moved into our new house, we replaced all the filthy carpet (that was making our kids' asthma so bad that they couldn't sleep at night) with sheets of maple plywood. Google plywood floors and there's tons of ideas. It was cheaper than carpet and we bought sheets that came pre-finished with polyurethane. My youngest is potty training and I don't have to clean a carpet when she has an accident, just a quick wipe up. We also did a painted plywood floor in a different home that was so pretty and so cheap.

                    Reply
                    1. Deb May 29, 2016

                      Good reminders. Its so true. Thanks.With 6 boys,2 girls I can relate on every point even the carpet.

                      Reply
                      1. MIK Oct 27, 2016

                        Hello Sarah,
                        we are a family of four in a 74qm apartment and with a 15 year old car. The guys have a common room and we sleep in the living room on our IKEA couch. But all the money in the world can compensate us for the beautiful moments as a family. And all we can give the children to their lives is love and trust and understanding. No expensive car for a birthday or a large house with garden and pool can compensate this.

                        Reply
                        1. Laura Santo Jul 26, 2017

                          You stated this very well. We also have 5 children and were a one income home. The greatest blessing of my life was being able to be at home for my children. But there were many, many things we did not do or have. Now, as I face having only one child left at home, I think a lot about how we lived and how it affected our kids.
                          I apologized once to my children for never taking them to Disney World like all their friends. They LAUGHED at me. Their answers ranged from *we'd rather go to the beach* to *I don't even LIKE Disney*!
                          I believe we raised our children to be less materialistic than most, and I'm glad. (We've never had a new car, my Suburban was 5 years old when we bought it and I felt like a QUEEN!)

                          Even though I am in a further stage of life than you, I am really enjoying your blog.

                          Reply

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