There’s a business and accounting acronym that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately—ROI (or Return on Investment). I’m a trained accountant, you see. Which is not the same as a practicing accountant. That is a good example of a bad ROI, actually—my going through all that accounting training while never collecting any of the accountant-as-profession benefits that should come with it.
An example of good ROI is your sticking around for the rest of this essay. And not just because I’m going to better explain Return on Investment so you can impress creative types at cocktail parties with your business acumen. Basically, ROI a measurement of what you get out versus what you put in. And babies? Take it from an almost accountant—that’s a terrible ROI.
The whole making-a-baby thing starts out looking good—especially for the male of the species:
3 – 5 minutes of active (and hopefully pleasurable) time
+ protein deposit
In that context, you have a righteously solid investment that would look good on any Annual Statement. For some men, that is the total and complete extent of investment made to procure an heir. However, I am not the male of the species and therefore feel compelled to present a more representative equation for the fairer sex:
9 months as an AirBNB suite
+ giving up all your vices
a life of servitude
Still wondering if you should forgo an IRA to raise the next generation? Here’s a few more reason babies provide an appalling ROI:
Sleeping. The standard description of someone blissfully slumbering is “sleeping like a baby.” Lies. Babies are fitful, light, tormented sleepers. They hate sleep in all forms. Even yours. So after you spend 3 hours nursing and rocking your little one to la la land, she’ll snooze just long enough for you to drift off yourself…before ripping you from your dreams with the dulcet tones of her manic vibrato. To summarize, that’s an investment of three hours of singing and bouncing for a return of twenty minutes (optimistically) of silence.
Feeding. Many babies need thirty or more minutes to feed. Then they nap for twenty minutes, only to wake up ready for another feeding. Which they often regurgitate into your yawning mouth. (Note: Assume you’ll always be yawning as explained in the “Sleep” section above.) If you’ve fed them with milk you produced yourself, you’re doubly invested. I believe in Vegas they call that “doubling down.” In accounting we call that “throwing good money after bad.” That’s an investment of thirty minutes for feeding (plus standard boob depreciation) for the worthwhile return of your own bodily fluid being reintroduced directly into your mouth from a baby impersonating a cappuccino machine.
Diapering. If you feed them, it will come – in one form or another. In reality we should amend the previous equation. Even if we amortize your tits over the duration of the kid’s entire childhood, that still won’t offset the fact that every nutrient you manage to keep in your bundle of joy’s belly will eventually come hurtling out the other end.
Clothing. Why? Just why? Why even bother? A sanitizing cycle on my washing machine takes one hour and twenty minutes. My dryer requires another forty-five minutes. On average, a baby wears a onesie thirty minutes before regurgitating on the chest or blowing feces out the back. So after investing over two and a half hours in various machines plus the time it takes to fold and put away the clothes (I won’t even factor in the time it takes to work those minuscule crotch snaps) your dividend is thirty minutes of clean cotton. Before it’s laundered the kid has outgrown it all anyway.
Growing. Congratulations. You’ve kept a child alive for an entire year. Chances are high you also haven’t showered for an entire year. Or slept for a year. Or even read a book without an animal as the protagonist for a year. You’ve made it to the other side! Surely you’ve hit the big one, right? The one where you start to really see your investment pay off? Guess again. Now you have a toddler AND you’re probably considering giving that baby a sibling. Two words—Ponzi Scheme.
Hear me, women of child-bearing age. It’s simple accounting. No financial advisor would ever condone such a venture. May I suggest investing in a case of wine and some bulletproof birth control instead?