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February 26th, 2009

Eight is Enough

I've been thinking about the woman who recently gave birth to octupulets and all the media attention surrounding her.

I'm not getting into the ethical issues about implanting how ever many eggs were implanted because I'm not particularly interested in that. I am interested in all the hubbub that our society has around folks who choose to have really big families.

I don't watch the news so I'm not going to pretend that I know the facts (of course, even if I did watch the news, I would not accept that as truth, but I'll save my discussion of historic relativism for another day).

Here's what I know. I know that a young woman who already had a bunch of kids, and no partner, chose to have IVF with 6 fertilized eggs, and got pregnant with 8 babies. I've heard speculation around coffeeshops that at least couple of her older kids have special needs and that she relies on donations from the community to take care of her kids. I've also heard talk that she has been offered a reality show.

You know, I would watch that show. As the mother of one child, with a partner and a fabulous family and friend support system, I would love to know how a woman can care for all of those kids on her own. Will it be a freak show? Possibly. And isn't much of what is on TV these days?

I readily admit that I watch Jon and Kate Plus 8, because I am fascinated by how that family makes it work. Are those children being paraded in front of the media in order to generate an income for their family? Most likely. And as a result, they have moved into two sucessively larger homes, travelled all over, and likely have money set aside for their future. It is a far cry from the Dionne Quintuplets who were kept behind glass and treated like zoo animals.

I also watch a show called 18 Kids and Counting. It follows the Duggars who have 18 kids. Thanks to reality television, they now live in an enormous custom built home that comfortably accomodates their ever-growing brood. The mom home-schools all the kids, as well as growing a baby a year. I find them completely fascinating. Apart from the clear and obvious gender roles that their religious beliefs and values slot them into, I am amazed by how all the kids take responsibility for one another and for various household chores. And when their oldest got married, I took a peek at his registry linked to the family's web site. It was surprisingly normal. Though, I do try to ignore the creepiness inherent in having every child's name start with a J, just like their father, Jim Bob.

I often wonder what it would be like to have or be a part of a large family. I find it interesting that a cultural phenomena that was once commonplace, is now perceived as freakish.

My grandmother was the youngest of 9 children. I wonder what she would think about all of this if she were still around today.

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