Those of us who are computer savvy know that there are traditional ways of saving data (File -> Save) , advanced ways of saving data (File -> Save As) and new media ways of backing up the data (drag and drop on to external, email to yourself, dropbox.com, etc.) How many of us have the same advanced contingency plans for our parenting?
It has occurred to me that I had more of a parenting safety net when I was deferring parenthood then now that I have three children. I don’t know how many Cocoa Mamas are still on the condom AND birth control AND rhythm method plan but I remember, well, the rigid discipline of that engagement. It was a way of backing up the back up plan, that just no longer rests with my leisurely approach to motherhood.
One related secret confession is that I do not have any life insurance for myself or my children. What does it mean that my five person family has no “death plan.” Having faced, on the ground, the logistical nightmare of trying to bury my little cousin without income or insurance last year was a vivid, yet stalled, rude awakening in this regard. I may be a little too chill. I have no real set “plan” for how I am governing my children’s lives. We are winging it big time.
Tonight I thought, again, about the quite possibly urgent need to engage my oldest, in particular, in extra-curriculars. (He is finally taking piano once a week). I think about parents who spend most of their non-working hours strategically placing their children in competitive athletics, music or some other socializing force. I often see parents who are acting more out of self-interest in doing so. The stereotypical “at home” mother who is “living through her children,” is one generic example of this. However, even the structured arrangement of your child’s free time can be a way to back up their back-up plan, helping to create a “future” for them that is both economically viable and otherwise personally fulfilling.
In my marriage, as a related side note, I am the one who is most inattentive to the pursuit of home ownership. I know, theoretically, it is a way to increase wealth and create a “fail safe,” but I am not what you would call a motivated buyer.
My fear, as a mom, is that one day my world will get so completely turned on its head that all the love, patience and “dreams” I contribute; will fail to matter because I have let them down in some bare bones, irreconcilable way.
Short of a Y2K paranoia, I am seriously starting to wonder if my parenting/partnering is tightroping without a net.
4 thoughts on “Backing Up The Back Up”
I have no plan. No life insurance, no college savings plan, nothing. They do no outside activities, no sports, no dance classes, nada. The first part troubles me; I think we must plan for the future financially. No matter what happens, money will be needed. I justify this, however, by my current “get out of debt” plan that I am pursuing rigorously, and am planning to have my family out of debt by 2014. Then, I reason, the saving can begin.
The second part doesn’t bother me so much, except that I know there are things that they would enjoy that I don’t have the money or time to get them into. They took swimming lessons in the summer, and I hope to do that again. But as a grad student, that takes some real financial wiggling. But then again I think that they are young, they have plenty of space to run around in every day, I read to them every day, they are exposed to great music, on the weekends we go to museums and kid’s science places, and we go to church.
I think they’ll be okay. Yours too.
I like how you snuck in like eight activities at the end. 🙂 really would also like advice for how you are negotiating your get out of debt plan too.
Those aren’t “activities”, except for swimming. Those are “when we feel like it” things, except for church, which we try to get to every week. I can’t be held to a set schedule for stuff – and swimming over the summer was when I didn’t have anything else to do. I emailed you about the debt thing.
I agree with ORJ about the insurance, it makes a lot of rational sense. It’s hard though, to do it when you have so little disposable income; that latte is my little piece of joy during the day!
I’m your typical A type, and plans help me sleep better at night. I like my birth control fool-proof (birth control pills that I can forget? please!), and my insurance coverage current! I’m insistent on 6 months of savings (12 if we can swing it), and we’ve been talking about drawing up documents that lay out exactly who is in charge should one of us die or become incapacitated, and how we want our daughter taken care of if we can no longer take care of her ourselves. 😦
I suppose it’s all about your risk tolerance, but I think it’s fair to say that we should all be a little more risk averse when we have children; they depend on us in both life and death. It’s a tough conversation to have, but we have purchased as much as we can afford in health and life insurance. If we die, we need to know that she’ll be taken care of (which includes providing the financial resources so that others can afford to raise her in our absence); that’s our responsibility to her. Moreover, at our age, it is more likely that we’ll end up disabled than dead, and so disability insurance is as important–if not more important–than life insurance. If nothing else, I encourage you to get disability insurance to cover whatever it is your job does not (most plans only cover up to 60% of your present income). And term life insurance is not very expensive at all–often doable if you cut out things like purchasing coffee every morning, or going to the movies less often.
Extracurricular activities are lovely; our daughter is enrolled in a toddler music class now that she loves. But I agree with LaToya; our kids will be okay without them! 🙂