Sunday, June 10, 2012

"Why don't you eat what you've got?"

I remember when I was a small child, my mom would fill up my plate at dinner time.  I'd eat a few bites and then want more.  My mom would look at me in disgust and say in her most peevish tone of voice, "Why don't you eat what you've got?"  Suitably chastened, I would then try to enjoy what I already had on my plate before accepting more.

Many years later, I look at super sized families like the Duggars, who are hellbent on having "blessing" after "blessing".  To date, Michelle Duggar has had 19 pregnancies.  She's had two sets of twins, fifteen single births, and two miscarriages.  She and her husband, JimBob, now have 19 living children, several of whom are now adults, but still sleeping in the same dormitory like bedroom as their toddler aged siblings.

The Duggars, who once lived a very humble existence with all those kids living in a tiny house, now live in a large compound.  They have a reality television show that has allowed them to enjoy things that would have been well beyond their means had they never been discovered.  Oddly enough, the Duggars claim not to watch TV... and yet TV has afforded them a luxurious lifestyle.

Since about 2004, this family has been on the airwaves and I have watched their ranks expand with each new pregnancy.  I've watched their clothing styles change from frumpy jumpers with lacy collars and polo shirts with khakis to name brand sportswear.  There are an astounding number of "blessings" in that household... and yet the Duggars still want more.

They claim that each child is a "gift" from God and they are happy to accept any "gift" God wants to send to them.  But I can't help but think that with each new "gift", they get the chance at another season on TV.  Last year, Michelle Duggar hoped to have her 20th "gift", even though her 19th child was born very prematurely and has had some significant medical obstacles to overcome.  I think about the cost of that 19th child Michelle Duggar had in her 40s...  That child--Josie-- no doubt generated huge medical bills.  A regular middle class couple with a child who had Josie's medical problems, would no doubt have serious challenges taking care of that child's needs.

Yet the Duggar family had 18 healthy children before Josie... 18 kids who no doubt also generate expenses.  Yes, several of those kids are now legal adults who can help out, but they still live at home.  They are committed to the "family business"... JimBob's side businesses and their TV show, which they have to keep on the air if they hope to maintain their lifestyle.  

The Duggars have become entertainers.  And they are presumably paid well to be entertainers.  Michelle Duggar's hyperactive womb has turned them into stars just for existing and being conservative Christians. A lot of people admire them because they seem like such a nice, wholesome, loving family.  But here they are, whoring themselves on TV-- a gadget they claim is too evil to use themselves-- and Michelle is encouraged to risk her life to keep having "blessings" to prove to everyone just how special and blessed they are as a family.  To me, it just looks an awful lot like greed and foolishness.

I tell you what.  I cringe when I hear that family talk about how every child is a blessing from God and that each child is proof of God's favor.  What about the many men and women who are infertile?  Does God not love them too?  I don't have kids.  I always wanted them, but I fell in love with a man who had a vasectomy with his first wife.  A vasectomy reversal has not been effective in making us fertile... and rather than spend thousands on medical or legal remedies in order for us to become parents, we opted to stay childless.  Does that mean that God doesn't love us?

I realize we're pretty lucky.  The desire to have children together was not that strong for us.  There are a lot of couples out there who don't have kids and go to great lengths to have them.  They endure expensive and invasive medical treatments or they set aside their privacy to allow social workers and lawyers to allow them to adopt.  And sometimes, those great lengths they go to aren't enough and they end up with nothing to show for their efforts.

I look at the Duggar family and others like them and I hear my mom chastising me.  "Why don't you eat what you've got?"  I want to ask Mrs. Duggar why what she has isn't enough.  She has beautiful children, most of whom are completely normal and healthy.  It looks like even her 19th child, Josie, will overcome many of her medical challenges.  Why isn't that enough?  What good is being a mother when your oldest daughters have to assist you in raising them?  What good is being a mother when you can't even tell reporters what your children's favorite colors are or what subjects they enjoy in school?  Why can't the Duggar family enjoy what they already share and so many people would love to have?

Just a thought that popped into my head this Sunday morning...

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