A Lightning Rod

Poster wigamer made this comment on a recent blog entry:

I may regret coming out of anonymity, I don't know. Here goes nothin':

I've wondered why this woman engenders so much hatred, and the only thing I can come up with is that she must represent something bigger than herself. The vitriolic reaction to her is sometimes so out of proportion to her actual "crimes". I find her disagreeable and annoying, and her choice to expose her children to the world seems to be a terrible mistake.

But I think it goes deeper than Kate's many foibles. I think she has become a lightning rod for some of the feelings that mothers in this country have to deal with. There is so much pressure on a woman to be (and look)perfect in our society.

Look at parenting books, parenting blogs, magazines, television, the message is clear: to be the ideal mother you have to breastfeed your children,and if for some reason you don't (you're probably too lazy and selfish) you must investigate every bottle nipple for toxic chemicals, though you probably won't be able to afford the safe ones. Thoroughly investigate immunizations, because if you don't your child will probably be autistic & it will be your fault. Organic baby food is the way to go, homemade preferably. Your child should be on a set schedule for sleeping (never on the stomach!) and eating. Wait, no, research shows attachment parenting is so much better, your kid needs to be with you 24/7. And that's just infancy.

In my opinion, (and it's just opinion) mothers are constantly sold a message of inadequacy, and Kate seems to have bought it hook, line, and sinker. Striving, striving, for perfection with her organic cooking, tummy-tuck, hyper-organization, crazy cleaning, rigid control. And she's proud of it. It's all designed to look great on the outside, but I promise you it's hollow and joyless on the inside. And it's all being brought to us via heavily edited phony "reality" TV footage that tries to make a character out of a real person. Yuck to all of it, I say!

Again, take all that for what it was worth...a very long-winded 2 cents.

I can understand where wigamer is coming from. I think that, among mothers, probably the single most polarizing topic -- even above religion and politics -- is parenting itself.

So many mothers stew in guilt and performance anxiety, causing so much emotional angst that they sublimate it anywhere they possibly can. And what better target than a woman with the audacity to live her life under a scrutiny far more acute than any of us would dream of agreeing to? Someone who could be seen as "just asking for it".

Then, add to that mixture, Kate's narcissistic personality that not only blinds her to her faults, but makes her believe she really is deserving of the idolatry that many hold for her.

I'm not saying that all critics of Kate fall into this category; it doesn't take being a parent or even suffering a bit of parental guilt to feel plenty of outrage for what Jon and Kate are dragging their children through and for how they are deceiving the public. It is one thing to admit that one has the occasional less than stellar parenting moment, but it is on a whole other level to orchestrate and keep alive the circus that is the Gosselin life.

And it seems like just when we think we've seen the worst, a new episode airs and Jon and Kate just dig their hole even deeper. These are people who will pursue any and every freebie, donation, or sponsorship with no compunction, no hesitation at the thought that in order to reap the benefits their children must be exploited and their public must be deceived. THAT complaint has nothing to do with maternal guilt and a convenient scapegoat.

Organic "Monkey Munch" and Fingernails on the Dinner Table

I am not going to deny the entertainment encompassed into the 30 to 60 minute episodes of "Jon and Kate plus 8". In fact, the debauchery is quite entertaining a good percentage of the time. However, my entertainment derives from the children, not the adults. And that in and of itself is something that I consider disturbing. I am not entertained by Jon and Kate's "insightful" couch talks, in fact, their "couch confessionals" usually make me cringe. Many of the comments made by Jon, specifically, liken my emotions to the sensation I feel when I watch an awkward moment on NBC's "The Office." The main difference is that "The Office" is scripted to be awkward, Jon and Kate seemingly create the awkwardness all on their on. An example that stands out most to me is the comment made by Jon in one of the original specials... something to the effect of "I want to take a paper cutter and cut her stomach off" (not an exact quote).

The plot deepens when people all over the nation are listening to these two as if Zeus had sent a message from the mountain. Having babies does not make a person an eligible "advice giver," especially when the person giving advice, at the cost of their children's dignity and "love offerings" by faithful church goers, has no idea what they are talking about. Why do I say that Jon and Kate Gosselin have no idea what they are talking about? It is really quite simple. People are mostly impressed by the Gosselins because of the apparent organization that they have over a household that seems as if it should be chaotic. The truth is quite obvious... they actually have no control over their household. This is evidenced by the fact that they don't actually do anything for themselves and when they do something for themselves it is derived from money raised by plastering their naked children sitting on toilets on national television. Their sense of entitlement is disgusting and the micromanagement of their household is not as up to par as they would like to portray it....

Kate Gosselin prides herself on feeding her children organic food because of the health benefits. That is wonderful and I am sure that this has influenced at least one family to do the same. Problem is that folloing Kate's influence and eating organic isn't going to save any lives. In fact, following Kate's prompt will actually contribute to the leading cause of deaths in this country... heart disease. Am I the only one that got a load of the amount of butter that this woman uses. It is slathered on the bread and in the baked goods that she is always making. Wonderful influence on America, Kate! And I notice that someone said something about this before: "sugar is sugar." I don't think that Kate has any idea what "organic" means. It doesn't mean that I can sit there and eat a bag of chocolate chips and powdered sugar and still be healthy.

The thing that most annoys me is the "cleanliness" issue. Any person that cuts fingernails on the kitchen table and removes staples from her husband's head at the dinner table is not a "clean freak." In fact, I nearly gagged when she started clipping fingernails while the kids were sitting around the table eating.

All of this being said, Jon and Kate Gosselin are human beings, like me, and are not perfect. In addition to this, they have the daunting but blessed task of raising eight beautiful children. They may be doing the best that they can with the cards that they have been dealt, but until you are willing to have camera crews come in and watch your kid poop every day, I don't think you can truly align yourselves with this pair, because these two are truly one of a kind.

Specifically, I find issue with those people that "only have two children" and who are constantly insulted by Kate, who seems to think that parents with only a normal amount of children have it easy, but still support the woman. News flash Kate, people with one, two, three, or even eight children (not multiples) will never receive the privileges that you and your flock have...

Now to answer the ever persistent question: "Why watch the show if you hate it?" As stated at the beginning of this post, I am in fact entertained by the children. Their adorableness is undeniable. The truth is that I do sometimes feel "wrong" by watching the show because the children really are being exploited, however, I am not perfect and I do continue to watch the show, just like some of the people who disagree with my post have continued to read it.

Reprinted with permission from Mrs. Ricardo.