Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The New Economy of Fatherhood


I've acquired an annoying habit. For the last year or so, I've been gauging all of our expenses in terms of their equivalent in boxes of diapers. Being a dedicated "warehouse shopper" I get Chunk's diapers in bulk and one of his massive boxes of 120-140 diapers run around $35. So, to illustrate, here are a few examples:

Monthly internet charge: 1 box of diapers

A tank of gas: 1 box of diapers

An afternoon date with Denver Mom: 1 to 2 boxes of diapers (yes, we're *that* cheap)

A trip to the grocery store: 2 to 3 boxes of diapers

Denver Mom's trip to France this summer: 85 boxes of diapers

Our "new" used car: 285 boxes of diapers

Our national debt: So many that even Chunk couldn't fill them

It's an interesting way to view our consumer-orientated world ("interesting" is a euphemism for "sick") and has spread throughout my life into work. I just submitted a proposal for 285 boxes of diapers, for example. I'm not sure if our board would understand the significance of that, but it's a whole lot of diapers.

So what does this all mean? Well, for the past few months I've been coveting a new MacBook Pro to replace my aging and ailing iBook. They're fast, shiny, and better suit the demands I make of my computer on a daily basis (another euphemism, this time, for "just really want it"). Unfortunately, a new computer runs approximately 57 boxes of diapers plus tax (another 2 or 3 boxes). And, that's for the low-end MacBook Pro. The one I want would run a whooping 72 boxes of diapers! 72!!!

Would I benefit from a new computer? I certainly would. I could use it for work and home, but am I worth 72 boxes of diapers? Is pampering myself on that magnitude something I could justify, especially when you consider that what we're really talking about is 10 months of child care. Or, 1,250 boxes of those Goldfish crackers Chunk loves so much.

Do you see where this is going? Yes, that's correct, right into a straightjacket.

How did this happen? It's one thing to deny myself a new toy because of budgetary considerations. It's another thing altogether to do it because I can't wrap my brain around the fact that what I'm really talking about is 10,080 individual diapers.

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