Monday, February 25, 2008

It's All Mary-Mia's Fault!

Back in December of last year, when Mary-Mia from Do They Have Salsa In China was feeling a little punk and decided to try and keep her identical twin 3-year-olds occupied with a video so she could rest, she inadvertently started a bit of row as to whether the girls would watch "Mee-Moss" (Mickey Mouse, Rose's first choice) or "Six Babies" (the DVD of Jon & Kate Plus 8, Marie's preference). As per usual, Mary-Mia videotaped the ensuing smackdown (okay, it was more like an inadvertent elbow to the eye, but still... ) for our amusement.

I'd heard of the former, but I'd never heard of Jon & Kate until Mary-Mia blogged about it. When TLC ran a Jon & Kate marathon a couple of weeks ago, including all three documentaries, starting when the sextuplets were 18 months old, in anticipation of the new series TLC is launching, I thought I'd give it a look-see. I Tivo-ed it. I've watched it. Four times. Then I created a Season Pass on Tivo for the show.

For the uninitiated, Jonathan and Kate Gosselin had problems conceiving and turned to fertility treatments to conceive their twins, Mady and Cara, now 7, born in the fall of 2000. A couple of years later, Kate thought it might be nice to know what it felt like to have "just one baby," so she cajoled Jon into trying for another baby. They conceived SIX -- three girls, three boys -- born in May of 2004. By the time Kate was 28 and Jon was 26, they were the parents of eight children under the age of four. GAK!

And yet.... There's something compelling about them as a family. Kate is an admitted organizational-freak-a-germ-a-phobe with slight OCD tendencies. The episode where Kate is interviewing for a part-time housekeeper has some hilarious moments when she is describing to them exactly what she expects them to do. She'd be obnoxious if you didn't understand that what she's asking them to do a couple of days a week, is what she actually DOES -- every day -- while parenting eight children!!! She isn't asking any of the potential house cleaners to do anything she doesn't do every day -- sometimes, TWICE a day. The looks on the faces of the applicants as she describes what she does is PRICELESS!!

Jon, who is the more laid back of the two parents, gets a little flack from Kate from time to time for his easygoing, time-not-imperative pokiness, especially when they're in the trenches, so to speak -- going to cut a Christmas tree, going to pick out Halloween pumpkins and take a hay ride, taking the kids to their first dentist appointments. Someone somewhere, you can bet, is going to have a first-degree, five-star meltdown along the way, and they both know it. Watching how each parent approaches it, with their vastly different temperaments and personalities is really fascinating and endearing.

They get a bit short with each other and there's a fair amount of bickering at times. But there are episodes here and there where Jon and Kate manage to steal off together, "sans enfants," as it were (the "tummy tuck" episode, the "shopping spree" episode). In these moments (brief though they are) it is obvious that Jon and Kate Gosselin adore each other and make a really good couple. If Kate is the propellant and the rudder for the family -- getting them up and going in the right direction -- it is Jon, with his equanimity and calm under fire, who acts as the retro-fire braking system that keeps them from spinning out of control full-bore into hyperspace. In their confessional-style interview moments, with the two of them in a over-sized armchair, they are like any married couple who have found a way to make it work -- charming, funny, smart, they finish each other's sentences, laugh at each other's jokes, poke, prod and tease each other, but they love. Clearly, they love.

You would have to love to stay. Because, as lovely and adorable and interesting as the Gosselin house is to peak into every week, living there would truly drive the average person round the bend. When Oprah asked Jon and Kate how they coped with the monumental responsibility, Kate replied, "We take it one day at a time. All there is is today."

The truth is, I love the Gosselins. Not because they have eight children. But because they're honest about what having eight children does to a person, to a marriage, to a life (to Kate's belly, hence the tummy tuck episode). One child puts stress on a relationship; eight would break most. In the first episode, during a confessional interview, Kate related that Jon told her, during the most difficult first few months with the sextuplets, "You know, Kate, six babies isn't that many babies. Fourteen would be a lot of babies." In the interview, Jon waited a beat after Kate finished the anecdote, then added, "Now, I think one more would push us right over the edge." One of my favorite Kate Gosselin lines is, "I'm sure there are perfect parents out there, but we're not any of them." Honest. Real. Humble. Occasionally hovernig on the brink of madness. You know.... like me, but for a much better reason.

It's hard what they do. It's work. And in Jon & Kate plus 8, all the seams show. But it's worth it for the Gosselins. And for me. Because now, I'm hooked.

And it's all Mary-Mia's fault.


Jon and Kate plus 8 can be seen on Mondays on TLC. Check your local listings for exact times and channels.


  1. Ah now that's good television! Educational too -- every single time I watch it with Marie I think "there is no way IN HELL we are ever having more kids." Heh.

    (By the way, when I first saw your blog title the thought "OMG Catherine has adoped a child!!!" crossed my mind. Yeah, I know. I know.)

  2. My friends just brought their new baby daughter home from Ethiopia. I'm sure once I get a whiff of her baby head smell, adoption won't seem so far-fetched.

    But then I'll sit down and watch an episode of J&K+8, and it will pass.



  3. This will shock Stephen to the core when he reads this because he thinks that the two of you are generally on the same page (how he gleans this from your blogs and my second hand telling of blogs is beyond me but there it is..a crush)He HATES Kate Gosseling. Maybe because I teeter on the edge of her behaviour. I've been known to scream STTTEEEEEEEVE in the middle of a Toys R Us but REALLY. I was raised an only child and as my friend once explained ME to someone else "Excuse her..she was an only child and in HER house she was E.F. Hutton". So there is that. But I think she is doing an amazing job giving the craziness and his ass is just plain WORTHLESS.

  4. I actually kind of hate her now. The early shows, where the babies were still toddlers and she was pretty much doing it all herself, cuz he was working outside the home, were pretty amazing. I had one, I barely managed. She had eight under the age of six, and her house always looked immaculate, the meals were healthy and organic and always served on time, the kids were always dressed with hair brushed and faces washed.

    I mean, she's a pain, but she's a beautifully efficient, finely tuned Mommy machine. As the kids got older and they need her less and less for the simple tasks, she's kind of started to get bristly and impossible to watch. The one thing about Jon is that he's at least kind of funny. She's just humorless and mean.