The Oral Report

Standing up in front of the class was never so much fun!

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Location: River City, United States

The rantings and ravings of a mom of three wonderful girls as she finds new love while working like a dog and shaking her fist at the system. You know. Pretty much like everybody else.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe

Last night, I caught part of a show on tv that disturbed me. And I'm not completely sure why. Well, maybe I am. It was about Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar. I must have missed the original airing of the show in December, and I wasn't familiar with these people at all. A (relatively) young couple from Arkansas, he was a local politician until 2002 (though he's running for a senate seat) and she was a stay at home mom. They met in high school and married in 1984, when Michelle was 17. Fast forward to 2006 and add sixteen children. Ten sons and six daughers.

That just astounds me. For a vast number of reasons, I suppose. And I'm not trying to be judgmental, though I suppose it can't be helped to some degree, but I really just don't understand it. When I was much younger, I thought I wanted six kids. I love kids and thought it would be great to have a big family. The reality of what it takes to have a family that size is not the stuff of pre-teen fantasy. The finances alone would prevent most of us from doing it.

On a most personal note, I suck at being pregnant. I get violently ill and have all kinds of weird ailments and then, there's that last one that almost killed me. But, even without that last unusual case, I don't think I could have gone through sixteen (what were normal for me) pregnancies. Of course, I do realize that not everyone has these symptoms at the same level that I did, and that some people (odd though that concept is to me) say that they've never felt better than when they were pregnant. I hope Michelle Duggar is one of those people. If she's suffered like I did through 15 pregnancies (two sets of twins and a miscarriage are included in the mix), she deserves a medal or something.

Now, I love my girls. I truly do. But it's pretty wild at my house with just the three of them. I honestly don't think I could survive raising sixteen kids. Emotionally. If that's admitting a flaw in my character, I'm eager to set the record straight about my limitations.

The Duggars have a system, I'll give them that. They have a master schedule that includes chores, homeschool, music lessons and bathroom usage. The show was about them moving from a 2400 sq. ft. home with two bathrooms into a 7000 sq. ft. newly built home with ten bathrooms. So, I'd imagine that things will be considerably different. Their last daughter (#16) was born during the construction/move. The logistics of a family that size living in a 2400 sq. ft. home were the stuff of nightmares.

As was clearly evident in the show last night (and will be if you check their website), they are pretty devoutly Christian. They say their faith makes the life they have possible. Again, I have no basis for comparison. I'm not sure what kind of faith I'd have to have to do something like that. I'm pretty sure it's not something I want to explore too deeply. Because when I start down that road, I will pass by all the Jim Jones', and Pat Robertson's, and maybe even the Randy Weavers' of the world. And, honestly, I don't wanna.

The thing that kept striking me all through the show was how surreal they all seemed. The smiles that were just too much, the matching clothes (wearing the same color each day makes laundry easier), the way the little children never got upset or caused any problems. Was Stepford in Arkansas? I didn't think so, but maybe I'm wrong. Or perhaps, there's something in the water.

All of the children have names that start with the letter 'J'. Joseph, Johannah, Jill, Jessa, Jeremiah, Jedediah, James, John David, Jana, Jinger, Joy-Anna, Justin, Jason, Jackson, Joshua and Josiah. I kept wondering how far down the list 'Jesus' was.

Does anyone stop to think about how these kids are going to turn out? What impact they will have on society? How can one of sixteen children ever hope to be an individual? To allow any of them to have their own interests would completely derail the master schedule. And, at some point, when these kids go out into the world to seek their fortunes and find true love, won't they be, in some way, handicapped? I just keep thinking they'll need lots and lots of therapy.

And why? Because their parents are single-handedly responsible for the growth of the religious right. Do they feel they have to do this to offset the crack-whores and welfare moms churning out little liberals? It's as if they are competing. And pretty soon, that 39 year old woman is going to have to give her poor reproductive system a break. I'll bet black smoke just billows out of that thing when she delivers. She's got to be in need of a total overhaul.

My dad is the oldest of nine children. He's in his early sixties and grew up on a farm. I'm not sure if the times or the place justify having a family that size. Probably depends on your age and your historical reference point. But in any event, that's a lot of kids. And my grandmother was a small woman. When she was delivering her ninth, the doctor had to do a hysterectomy because of the condition of her organs. You can't tell me that Michelle Duggar isn't doing some damage. A woman's body simply isn't made to withstand the long term, continuous damage to your system that hyper-breeding does.

I'm not going to even mention overpopulation or the environment, though that's an argument that is often referenced in these instances. I'm not saying they aren't valid arguments, just that I'm not sure that individual freedoms are less of an argument. So, maybe, as long as people like this stay in the minority, the impact won't be tremendous.

Lastly, I love being a mother. I really do. It's not the only thing that defines me, but it's certainly the most significant thing. Michelle Duggar cannot possibly have time to do anything else. There is no way that you have time to pursue any other interests when you are raising sixteen children. I believe I am a better mother because I have other interests and parts of me other than being a mother. I believe I am modelling behavior that will help my daughters be better women. And I believe that if all I had time for was to be a mother, they'd suffer for it in the long run.

Once I came across the show, I couldn't change the channel. It was with a mixture of horror and awe that I continued watching. Kind of like looking at a two-headed calf or something. Which sounds mean, and that's not my intention, it was just so strange and I was in such disbelief. Anyway, if any of you are interested, I understand that the Discovery Channel is doing a show on them Wednesday night at 8PM (Eastern) called "Raising Your Sixteen Children". Your hand will be trembling on the remote.


Blogger Mark said...

So you've met the Duggars. I learned of (and posted something on) the breeding-heart fundamentalist family back in October, when they were getting all the coverage for the arrival of their 16th little Khristian soldier.

I may have to see if they repeat the show. I like to keep my eye on the zealots out there.

3/15/2006 2:28 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

I guess I should've paid attention and I would've seen that you posted viewing info. Thanks for making my job easier.

3/15/2006 2:32 AM  
Blogger SuperFiancee said...

Mark -

I didn't remember your post, but perusing your archives this morning, I found it.

If I did read it when you originally posted it, I didn't get nearly the same level of fear that I got watching them on tv. Seeing them interacting and listening to them speak, was something I couldn't have even imagined.

I assure you I won't be watching tonight.

3/15/2006 8:48 AM  
Blogger Julia said...

I feel this is just another case of people trying to live in the past. My maternal grandmother had 13 kids. They were dirt poor and my grandmother died of a stroke in her 50's. My Aunt Pat didn't go to school until she was 7, because they didn't have any shoes for her.

I can't imagine all those kids. I have one and sometimes I feel like I live in an insane fun house.

3/15/2006 8:46 PM  
Blogger StopAtTwo said...

These Duggars are members of a cult run by somebody named Gothard (I'm not making this up). You can search on Advanced Training Institute, or just go to the Duggar family web site and follow the links. There's a lot going on behind the scenes and those oh-so-saccharine smiles. Michelle might be one of those women who is literally addicted to having kids. Or, after 15 years of pregnancy, her body may not feel good when she isn't pregnant. Some people collect Chihuahuas or cats or cockatiels. Michelle collects babies. Jim Bob is apparently mentally challenged or he'd quietly have himself fixed before she ruptures something and leaves sixteen motherless kids without her telling them how to live every minute of every day. Anybody who has raised even three kids knows it takes ALL your time, energy, and money to do it right. Sixteen? Gimme a -------- break.

4/07/2006 2:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, there are members of a cult; they must keep to their own kind and not mix with outsiders. They are to take what they can get from us and forget us.

They pretend to be needy; they are well off as they rely on donations from everyone and everywhere.

I gave them thousands of dollars worth of sewing equipment and a harp. They gave me a phoney address and won't even answer my emails. They told a lot of lies to me. They are not Christian like they would have people believe.

They packed everything up,and drove off into the sunset never to be heard from again.

I am heart broken over what they did to me. I am old and in ill health. Shame on them!

4/11/2006 11:41 PM  

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