As the news of the octuplets continues to monopolize the airwaves, I continue to scratch my head. Generally people jump on “non-issue” stories like this when there is nothing else to report. However, there is enough news to go around. Take the wildfires in Australia. I was shocked how long that took to really come into the public eye, particularly when it is such a terrible tragedy. In the U.S., we are continuing to struggle with a failing economy which as our president has now said is nearing mass critical levels. Our government is struggling to pass a stimulus package to somehow save the day. Yet, when you poke around the message boards and chatrooms, the main buzz is still those 8 babies and their “crazy mother.” Now, perhaps that is because this issue does hit home as people make connections to our economic woes. People are afraid 8 more children on the welfare rolls could break the system. Yes, I’m being sarcastic, but only a little. I do know that unemployment and foreclosure have been talked to death, and this adds fresh meat to the late night chatter, but still…it’s not really all that important in the grand scheme of things.
I suppose we will be hearing more about Nadya Suleman over the next few weeks as her children grow stronger. I must say, though, seeing the pictures of those babies in the hospital warmed my heart. No matter what you feel about the mother and her decision, you just have to look at one of those tiny souls to understand why someone might do something as crazy as having 8 at once. Not that you’ll see me doing something like that anytime soon, but still.
So, the spotlight will shine brightly, and the newscasters will pontificate and criticize. People will rant about Suleman’s mental health. Reporters like Matt Lauer will announce with certainty that parents with more than 2-3 kids can’t possibly take care of them. Everyone will point and “ooh” and “ahh” and chortle.
And then it will be over. The lights will go away, the reporters will go home. This mother who has had a constant wave of publicity, attention, and help (whether she asked for it or not) will suddenly be alone…and overwhelmed. Ask a mom who has twins or triplets how challenging that can be. I cannot even imagine handling 8 babies at once. Whether we agree with her choice or not, in the end Nadya and her family will have to care for these babies. Whether she gets welfare or not, the ultimate job of bringing up those children up will be the mother’s. Ironically, the most interesting time to report on this story will be when the news cameras go home. I suppose we’ll get a follow-up report a year from now when there is a string of articles declaring “The Octuplets Turn 1.” However, will it give us a true picture of the 12 months in-between?
I have to be quite honest and say that while many in the large family community are offering their support of this woman’s choice, I *am* critical of it. I am holding a lot of resentment because many of us are being judged by her standards. Me and my husband were always thoughtful when adding each child to my family, and it’s hard to have people disregard that fact because they can simply point to Suleman and argue otherwise. In the end, however, whatever my feelings for how these babies were conceived, I have a lot of sympathy for the octuplet mom. Caring for those 8 little ones is not going to be easy, even with outside help. Just ask any of the other famous parents of higher-order multiples. Often they are brought to tears in interviews when thinking of the challenges…even years later. There is a reason the vast majority of large families have kids spread out over many years. Simply put, it’s much easier–even though it’s not really easy at all for large families under normal circumstances.
I will admit, I’ll be thankful when the media coverage of this story is over and there is a new “flavor of the moment” to focus on, drawing attention away from large broods (that is until Brad and Angie have another kid). I will be quite happy for my family to return to normal “freak” status, rather than “freak of the moment” status. Still, I again have to say that as much as I want the limelight to fade, I feel a bit concerned for Nadya when it does, because reality is going to sink it far too soon.
Then, as much as I think about that inevitable day when the reporters will go home and Nadya will be all alone…and believe me there are lonely periods even in a large family…I have to remember one factor that we have now that we didn’t a decade ago. Reality may hit her in a much different way. Reality TV, that is. “Nadya with 14” would be a ratings monster, I imagine. Though I won’t be watching. I’ll be busy raising, and loving, and caring for my relatively tiny family of 8. And loving every minute of it.