A couple weeks ago, a friend on a board for musical kids asked how one justifies the cost of raising a very musical kid, one that gets more and more expensive as they get older and are more involved. I understood exactly where she was coming from since her most musical child is the 2nd of 4 so she has other children to consider and it is so difficult dividing our precious, limited family resources...specifically time and money.
I think what makes it even more difficult is when, as a parent, you aren't pushing for a musical career...if you want that for your child more than anything else, putting all your resources into that goal is an easier decision. When you are following your child's interests and have no idea, since they are young, what their ultimate goal will be (music or some other field of study), I think we sometimes tend to "hedge our bets" or attempt to balance our resources a bit differently.
I think having Haley be the youngest of her siblings makes some decisions come more easily. I know what her brothers need, resource-wise, to follow their interests so I know what I have left to work with for her. If she had younger siblings it would not be so easy to spend the time I do helping her practice or driving her all over the place. Her brothers are old enough to stay home alone if need be which is rarely the case because they have their own activities and their grandparents have helped a lot when we must divide and conquer. Also, with younger siblings I would have to consider keeping money resources in reserve for them, not knowing what they might be interested in or how much that might cost. Meaning, for example, I wouldn't want to have Haley taking two lessons a week stretching our budget then have to cut back for her to allow another child to take a lesson...I would rather just have Haley doing one lesson and have the money available for the next child when the time comes.
My initial response to my friend's question on how I justify expenses went like this...
"I tend to think along these lines. I look at the value of music study and all my child/children is/are learning as a result...the value of hard work and practice for achieving goals, the value of having goals and working to meet them, being able to do something they enjoys and having it as a lifelong pleasure, etc...
I don't have an opinion one way or another about my child having a career in music. It isn't my choice to make. One day she will decide. Just as I am giving her a rigorous education to keep her options open in any other field of study, I am also willing to do what I need to do in order to allow music to be an option at whatever level she wishes it to be.
I always say I am willing to put into it whatever we can afford or find the
means to provide whether she goes into music or not as long as she is happy to do her part. She loves her music and works hard so we will keep going and see what happens. Even if she someday decides to be a doctor or lawyer or hair dresser, I won't regret what we spent. We are enjoying the ride. I love seeing her and her brothers having so much fun performing, we have gotten to travel, we have spent lots and lots of quality time together and have met and gotten to know some amazing people."
There are certain "sacrifices" or choices we have made to make it possible for Haley to follow her dreams. I prefer the word choices because we make the choice happily.
When we moved to a new home for Newt to go to school and wrestle, house costs (mortgage and property taxes) were a huge factor. We wanted to decrease our monthly payment and not take on any more debt so we'd be able to continue to afford Haley's lessons, new violins, orchestra, travel, etc... Sure, we could have moved to a bigger, nicer home...could have afforded one almost twice what ours costs but then other things would have been impossible.
We are currently hunting for a new car...my current car has over 202,000 miles. Initially, I was thinking a new minivan would be the logical choice. I like the room and have been driving one. We began looking then I got to thinking as I sat at the gas pump refilling the van for the second time in a week, that a smaller, more fuel efficient vehicle might be a better choice. Buying something small enough would cut my fuel costs each week by 1/3rd. We looked at the Camry and Accord then I figured usually it is only Haley and I in the car 80% of the time so now my car choice is a Civic. We are keeping our minivan for those times when we need more room to carry more people but for those trips to violin and fiddle lessons and to orchestra rehearsals, the Civic will be the perfect choice.
Before the last two years, we took great family vacations...two weeks at the beach yearly then a two years ago, a 5 week amazing vacation to see the country. The last couple years, our vacation resources have gone to music camps for Haley and Dyl, wrestling camps for Newt, and trips to Ireland for the Fleadh. We are so blessed to have a wonderful community assist us in raising funds so we were able to go to Ireland the last two years, though last year only Haley, Mommy, and Daddy could go because of the cost. It is quite possible that Haley could qualify for Ireland numerous times while still in the under 12 age group so we have to seriously consider how often our wonderful community will be willing to help.
Often I feel like I am walking a tightrope balancing the kids activities...missing a wrestling match for an orchestra concert or having different kids running different directions for practices. It does get crazy at times and I do without "alone" time. The way I figure it, they are only young once...I only get one chance to do what I can for them then they are grown and gone. When they are adults, I will have all kinds of time and money to do with as I please...I can't imagine I'll be happier, though.