Turns out I was wrong about the expense issue. Jake saves us money, big time.
For one thing, Brian and I used to go out every weekend with friends to bars and restaurants. Both Friday and Saturday night, sometimes even on Sunday. Now we very rarely go out. When we do, we drink like old grannies rather than like frat boys, like we used to, because it's no fun getting drunk when you know you'll be up at 7 am with a cheerful infant who seems innately driven to turn the TV on and off over and over by pressing the big power button on the front panel. So we daintily sip on a modest couple of drinks and then go home before midnight like the old folks we've become. On the drive home, we shake our fists at the cars that pass us, shouting "Slow down, you young whippersnappers, before you kill everyone on the road!"
In addition, I used to do a lot of drive-by shopping. I'd be driving by department store, and I'd think, "I'll pop in and see what 's on sale." Although I'm a big cheapskate when it comes to clothing and shoes, only buying things if I get them for a good price, it doesn't take long for the numbers to add up when you're constantly popping in at the drop of a hat. However, now that I have Jake, I'd rather go naked than take him to the ladies' department of any store to try on clothes. He sits in his stroller and twists and contorts himself like a bendy straw as he whines about being confined to his seat. I put toys on the little tray in front of him to keep him entertained, and he swiftly snatches them up and tosses them overboard, so that I have to get on my hands and knees and ferret them out from under the racks of clothes. As I push the stroller along, his arms are permanently outstretched, hands open to grab anything that comes within reach. Whatever Snatchy McGrabby is able to secure in his grubby mitts is then quickly deposited on the floor for his dutiful mommy to pick up. Eventually the tortured howling starts, and that's when the fun ends. I now understand why Julia says " I would willing pay $500 million thousand trillion (per annum) to avoid shopping with [my son] Patrick."
Interestingly, while Jake pointedly dislikes cruising around his stroller for any length of time, he loves to sit in a shopping cart. I have one of these nifty things, which is comfy for him to sit in, has some toys attached to it, and keeps him from licking from the shopping cart handles the bacteria of the million syphilis-riddled crack-whore shoppers who have gone before us. We can shop for any length of time like this, with him happily chirping away and pointing at things we pass. Observe my cheerful shopping companion, riding like a prince in his grocery cart:
Of course, the problem lies in the fact that lots of stores don't have shopping carts, especially clothing stores. They have those big mesh bags for you to carry over your shoulder, which I'm guessing Jake would not be as happy to ride in as he is the shopping cart. Still other clothing stores do have a cart of sorts, but it's a strange contraption that really amounts to a huge mesh bag on wheels. Also probably not something Jake would like to be stuffed into. A real shopping cart, such as the one pictured above, is crucial to a successful shopping jaunt.
For instance, a couple of weeks ago, in anticipation of his first birthday party, I stopped at a card and party store to see what kind of nifty kid crap I might find to decorate my hovel. I thought I'd be safe doing this, despite the fact that they didn't have any shopping carts, because I knew we wouldn't be in there long, and I assumed Jake would take at least a few minutes to get bored and cranky. I was wrong. The twisting and fidgeting and grabbing and complaining began almost instantly, as well as the disdainful tossing overboard of everything I tried to put on his little tray to amuse him. At first I put some effort into trying to chat him up and keep him happy, but seeing it was in vain, eventually I decided to just grin and bear the crabbiness and try to just accomplish my mission as quickly as possible. So I stopped messing with him and just minded my own shopping business. He whined a little, moaned some, and then eventually emitted such a plaintive little mooing sound that I leaned forward to get a peek at him...and discovered a breakdown in the system. Not being seatbelted in (since I figured this would be such a quick and easy trip), he had twisted and writhed in his crabbiness to the point that he had completely slid off his seat, and would have plopped to the floor if not for the little tray that was keeping him barely hanging on. His little body had easily slid under the tray toward the floor, but his fat head would not quite fit. Below is a picture of a stroller, and although it's not the same stroller we have, it's close enough. Imagine Jake's fat head wedged halfway under the tray, with the rest of his body dangling off the front of the stroller as he meowed sadly for help. Even as I was hustling to rescue him, I was lamenting the fact that the laws of good motherhood prevented me from taking a moment to stop and snap his picture first. You would have enjoyed it. You would have called the cops immediately on me, but you would have had a private chuckle first.
Another way Jake saves us money is in preventing us from traveling. We used to take off work now and then for a weekend or a week of vacation, sometimes flying, sometimes driving. I know lots of people travel with their children, but there's nothing about spending a week in a hotel room repeatedly removing the un-babyproofed electrical cords from Jake's slobbery mouth that sounds fun or relaxing to me. Nor does the fact that he gets bored in a stroller in under 10 minutes bode well for the prospect of keeping him entertained on a plane for a 2 hour flight, or more horrifying to imagine, a car ride for 6 hours. While I haven't checked into it, I am willing to bet that it's illegal to give a child moose tranquilizer just to keep him quiet during travel, and since I can't think of any other solutions, travel is simply out of the question til he turns 12.
So by my calculations, Jake has saved us close to 4 billion dollars in the past year, money we would have foolishly squandered on booze, restaurant meals, hotels, flights, and clothes.
"Yes," you're probably thinking, "but what about the things you have to buy for Jake that you didn't have to buy before, like diapers and baby food?" Good question, but I assure you those are small expenses in comparison to the massive savings mentioned above. Take diapers, for instance. Diapers are about 23 cents each, which could add up if we changed his diaper 5 or 6 times a day. But being the thrifty, forward thinkers we are, we've figured out that it's cheaper and easier to put him in an adult diaper, which is so much larger than a baby diaper that we only have to change it once every few days, rather than once every few hours. Clever, no? Think about it: Do you empty your kitchen trash bag every time you toss a banana peel or a coffee filter into it? No, you wait til it's good and full and then change it. Furthermore, do you put a teeny tiny little trash bag in your kitchen? No, you put a good-sized trash bag in there, which takes longer to fill up. So it's only logical to use the same principle with babies and diapers.
As far as food goes, that's pretty cheap, too. We feed him birdseed, which is far more economical than pricey baby food. And since babies grow out of their clothes in a matter of minutes, we leave him naked the majority of the time, except for his Depend undergarment. That adds up to big savings on clothing. Think, people. Don't just keep handing Babies R Us your wallets simply because they say you need all that expensive stuff.
In conclusion, I'd just like to assure you that babies are nowhere near as costly as you think. You've just got to think outside the box, and keep one step ahead of Child Protective Services. Now go reproduce.