Friday, September 9, 2011

Give Her a Break

I came across the latest tabloid gawking at Kate Gosselin today, a story about how shocking it was that she freaked out because not enough pizza was saved for the bodyguard, etc. etc.

Certainly, this latest show of unraveling does go a bit far, and it wouldn't be inappropriate to say that maybe she should chill out a little.

But maybe we should cut her some slack.

But she’s rich. And she’s chosen to be in the limelight, you might say. This is true, but her alternative, raising eight children on one income, might have ended up to be a bit too much, and the family could have ended up as a burden on the state. Personally, I think that choosing a tasteful reality show was a shrewd move, and preferable alternative to constant, soul-crushing financial burden. Children of crushed-soul parents don’t turn out much better than children of semi-celebrities, do they?

Moving beyond this, I have two children of different ages, and sometimes I am pushed to my limits emotionally, physically, and mentally. The only thing that has been close to being as challenging as the most challenging parenting moments was trekking in the wild for three weeks, and even that had its benefits – our food was delivered to us, we had an hour at the campfire every night to sing kumbayah and treat our blisters, and we could eat as much as we wanted and not worry about the calories. I didn’t even have that with breastfeeding. But I digress.

One of the most challenging aspects of very early parenthood for me was juggling feeding schedules. My son ate every three hours in the NICU, and I was instructed to pump every two hours. This meant that I was keeping two feeding schedules – his eating schedule and my pumping schedule. When they overlapped, something had to give, and I wasn’t allowed to slack on either portion of the schedule. Add to that the arbitrary rules of the NICU (for example, we were kicked out three times a day during shift change, which meant that once every six hours for 45 minutes or so I had no access to privacy or a breast pump, although the nurses in the NICU were chiding me for not keeping to my rigid pumping schedule) and you have a recipe for crazy.

The point of this story is that I had one baby, and I felt like I had two. She and her husband had six babies whose feeding schedules they had to manage, and another two children besides. That on its own, aside from the money, the diapers, the paparazzi, the clothes (what happens when everyone needs a baby hat? Where are the freakin baby hats? And can I find six pairs of baby socks right now at this moment?)… it boggles the mind. I don’t blame her for being bossy and shrill. I actually admire her for not being even worse than she is. I still have trouble relaxing almost 4 years out from my son’s birth. And there was only one of him.

Some will say yes, but she chose to have those children, and she used unnatural means, so she was asking for this. All of these things might be more or less true, but choosing to participate in the cause doesn’t make you immune to its effects, as lovely as that would be. At the time that the die was cast, when she was pregnant with all those babies, there was nothing to be done about the stress heading down the pike to her and her husband and family.

The short of it is, in my opinion, we should not judge her and pick her apart with tweezers under the magnifying glass until we have juggled the life-and-death needs of eight tiny people all at once, in front of cameras. A camera crew following me 24 hours a day could edit together a reel of footage to make me look like a monster. Until we have dealt with the sleep deprivation training of a Navy SEAL while the public makes fun of our hairdos, maybe we should go easy on the judgment. I have no idea what it’s like to be you, Kate Gosselin, but I know better than to claim that I could do it better.