Sunday, May 31, 2009

Reality Mom

Unless you've been living under a rock, or on the island of LOST, you've heard the latest controversy involving Jon and Kate Gosselin of Jon and Kate Plus 8. And if you've been a reader of my blog for any length of time I think you have noticed that don't really involve myself in controversies, unless you count that idiotic columnist that wrote a piece last June comparing international adoption to wearing a trendy accessory. And of course I had to show my accessories off. But I've been mulling this one over for about a week and I decided to jump into the frenzy.

Jon and Kate Plus Eight has been a weekly viewing experience in our house for about a year and a half. I discovered the show when Emma was in the hospital with her RSV. It was Thanksgiving week and TLC was pretty much the only watchable channel in the children's hospital. It just so happened that TLC was running a marathon week. JK+8 and I were introduced then, along with Miami Ink (which I found surprisingly fascinating) and Little People, Big World. Seriously, who could resist a house full of cute little kids and parents living on the edge of insanity? (Sounds vaguely familiar to me.) Not to mention it was something my girls liked too, so every Monday night we watched the capers of the Gosselins. But as time went on, Kate got snappier and snappier and the show began to seem more and more contrived. We were no longer watching the Gosselins surviving, we were watching the Gosselins go on free trips and experiences my kids can only dream of. I think it was when Kate dropped her kids off on Aunt Jody's just one more time, only to bring them home and discover that they had had gum and she lost it. The words that came out of Kate's mouth about Aunt Jody, the woman who just watched 7 of her 8 kids for the umpteenth time for free, just left me feeling angry. The ingratitude was evident.

So this spring when news broke that Jon was having an affair, I didn't believe it at first. And then I did. Kate emasculated Jon every chance she got, although it could easily be argued that the passive/aggressive Jon let her. In any case, it seemed plausible, even understandable that there was trouble afoot in Gosselinland and nobody was finding my name on the Kate Gosselin fan list. But I have to admit that the stories I've been reading have caught me off guard. Not only have her traits as a wife come into the spotlight, so have her abilities as a mother. Suddenly her manicures, her hair style, her fitness regime and her clothing options have all been placed under the microscope as evidence that she's a bad mother. Really?

It can be argued that the Gosselins have brought this on themselves. It's true that they placed themselves under the glare of cameras. They eagerly put themselves in the public eye. But what's got me thinking this week is how different are we Mommy Bloggers from the Gosselins? We share our lives, our children and especially in my family, our wacky adventures, all for the world to read about. How would we do under the constant watch of tv cameras?

This weekend a friend of mine suggested that my family should have our own reality show. That could only last about one show, two at the most. How many times can people watch Emma climb on counters, the dogs run off into the woods and see my cluttered living room? But it got me thinking about what cameras would really see. How interesting would it be to see me with my booty firmly planted in front of my computer? Seeing me yelling at Julia and Jenna about their negligence in caring for their dog Bella would be far more interesting. Or me getting frustrated again because the house is a mess again. Noticing a trend here? No need to attack my every other month pedicure and hair cut and color, there's enough evidence at the home front to fry and fillet my mothering abilities.

Who decides mothering perfection anyway? US Weekly? Are any of those writers even mothers? Or is it all those perfect blogs out there where the mothers feed their children organic food, live in impeccably perfect homes and cook gourmet food captured in professional quality photographs? We mother's have hard enough time trying to live up to our own expectations let alone the world's.

I've never claimed the Perfect Mother prize. If anything, I've stressed time and time again my imperfections. In the end, who's the judge of our mothering? It's ourselves for sure, but also our kids. Our kids won't be happy 100% of the time. I can assure you that Julia wasn't happy with me this afternoon after I finished my tirade. Should I have yelled? In a perfect world I wouldn't, but we've already established our world isn't perfect, haven't we? But hours removed from the situation, Julia admits that I'm right. And sometimes love is tough love. To me, the proof that I'm a good mother is when my children feel safe, encouraged and loved. The reality is that they won't feel that way all the time, but if I hit the mark most of the time I'll take it.

Which brings me back to me being a Mommy blogger and the Gosselins. The Gosselins put themselves in the public eye but so do I. Why in the world would I announce my imperfections to the world? I've never written my blog to get people to look up to me. I hope and pray that moms read my blog and say "thank goodness I'm not the only one." We mothers need role models for sure, but I don't aspire to that title. Sometimes we just need to see that there's someone else out there doing the best they can. In the end, what more can we ask for?


25 comments:

Lindsey's mom said...

Great post! I have to say that us mommy bloggers do talk about things..we put ourselves outthere..but you, my friend, are NOTHING like Kate. I watched that show twice and said NO WAY. Just my opinion,but she is way to much. Her world is no longer "perfect". I hope she can see that she could change and put her family first. I think the show needs to end personally. Watch out..octomom is next!!! YIKES!!!

Sassypants Wifey said...

totally agree. I think since this whole deal came about, J and K are feeling like they can breathe again, because they arent faking it anymore. Not to say that they are right, because it sounds like they are both seriously immature and neither wants to give up the fame or money for the sake of their kids. But, like you said, you cant possibly know what they edit out. I for one, am pretty sure that I couldnt be a fan of someone who treats her husband like that. I have kind of always felt sorry for Jon. He seems like a nice enough guy, but everyother word out of her mouth is either an order or criticism. They will be better off not doing that in front of the kids, hopefully something will work out and the kids can see a better relationship where they dont drive eachother crazy. Who knows though, right? Great post thought!

JD said...

Amen.

My all time favorite blogs are those of "real" moms, ones who just do what they do, without ending up making us feel like schmuck when we inevitably compare ourselves to their "perfection", illusion or otherwise. Whether or not this was their intention. I wonder if sometimes, it is, you know?

Either way, I love to read the blogs of other moms I can REALLY relate to.

I still read a few blogs that don't fit in that category, but it's like watching J&K + 8 -- interesting the first little while, but eventually you see through it a little more, and it just becomes nauseating.

Beth said...

I think that is what is so appealing about blogging... that we can see we aren't the only ones out there!

I feel pretty much the same as you regarding Jon and Kate...it breaks my heart, tho...for the kids... and I do get tired of hearing it is all Kate...the editing has a lot to do with it...afterall...Jon had the affair...so he ain't perfect in my eyes!

I wrote a similar post...

Tammy Howard said...

And aren't we all just doing the best we can? I love it when I find a blog (like yours!) that acknowledges that! No-one is perfect - everyone is sacrificing something - we all compromise. I wish I was better in the housekeeping department. I love being reminded that that's not what it's all about. Except, I guess, for some folks it is - and that's cool, too. Live and let live.

Great post.

Michelle said...

I feel just like you and I show my stress like you too! I scream and yell and then think if they would just listen I wouldn't have to. I used to love to watch Jon and Kate not anymore I just feel sorry for there kids. Maybe they need to stop the show and turn back to God and he will help them.

The Sharp Family said...

Amen sister!!!!! Girl, most days I am just treading water! XOXO

Anita said...

Denise, I believe very few families could handle being a reality TV show and living under a microscope. It saddens me because I don't think we'll ever know what was "real" and what was contrived in their show. J&K+8 started out as a small 4 show season and it was amazing to see how a family dealt with 6 small children plus 2. As a mom of twins I know that job alone was challenging. You can add in that their children were all adorable and charming and precocious, much like yours and one thing I giggle about and love about reading your blog, the realness of who you are.
While the nails, hair, tans, workouts, wardrobe of Kate have received much attention, I think it's that those are so markedly different than how she was portrayed early on,I do find it unappealing. I wouldn't paint Jon as perfect, they are both human and flawed, but my REAL problem with them is that they seem to have just prostituted their entire family for money, fame fortune and in the end, it's ugly. I believe this will have emotional scars on their children.
Do we mommy bloggers put ourselves out there? Sure, but when any of us gets to 70 million viewers/readers..........let me know....LOL.
I love what you do! You rock.

~Katie said...

Well said... Thank God I'm not the only one.

Heather Thompson said...

I couldn't agree with you more!

Lorie said...

You are so right, and I really don't watch J&K+8, but let's be realistic, if she was all happy and nice all the time who would? I am not defending her, but we all yell and scream at times, but we are not under a microscope and what we show on our blogs is not decided by the producers paying us big bucks, or all you would hear about is our hissy fits etc.

So it is nice to relate w/ all the bloggers out there who are honest and you can say, it's not just me...(Phew)

You also gave me an idea one time and I asked my 6 yr old what kind of mommy I am, and she said "fun", so it's all about the kids, yes I yell sometimes, and I get angry, but it is life and my daughters are happy, healthy and loved!!!

Carey-Life in the Carpool Lane said...

Great post!

Regarding the show, I've watched it since the very beginning. And it has changed...they have changed. And isn't that to be expected? What bothers me is that one day those 8 kids maybe able to look back and say that the TV show is what separated their parents. (I realize that that is over simplifying things.) The same could probably never be said about a mom blog. Yes, we are in the public eye but not to the same degree and we are certainly not getting from it what the Gosselins' get from TV, books, appearance, etc.

I love your points about motherhood and blogging and being a role model. For me being a mom is about being imperfect and making mistakes and learning as you go and not being able to do it all sanely. If another mom reads my blog and can relate then I'm happy. I don't think it makes me a role model because I'll head to their site (and 50 others) and relate to them. I don't want to be friends IRL with or read the blog of a 'perfect' mom. First off there is no such thing and I'd always be trying to measure up and feeling lousy for falling short.

Whew! Who knew I had some much to say on the subject...

And I would watch Denise's Full House any day!

Brandy said...

This is a FANTASTIC post. You are right on. Sure she put herself out there for the scrutiny but at some point a line was crossed.

I'd much rather read about your real, maybe imperfect, life than to read a blog and have it seem so perfect. Something about that always makes me long for that type of perfection in my life. And it's NOT real.

While we are both grateful for the blessings that we have and happy in our lives, I know like you that I'm not perfect. One doesn't have to equal the other.

Brandy said...

Oh & you've been tagged! I almost forgot...

Kristin said...

I agree totally with what you said. It really does make me sad that they started out basing everything on Christian values, and it seems like we don't hear anything at all about their faith anymore....it's all about her fame and the family's fortune and it's so sad. I wish they'd give it all up and work on their marriage. I love your blog, Denise, because you are real and you are hilarious! Who wants to read about perfect Moms.......I would much rather read about Emma knocking over the cup of ticks and getting a lollipop stuck to her shirt when she falls asleep in the car! LOL

Christina said...

Great post! This is so true.

I'd like to think I wasn't the only one, and so many of you ladies have reassured me... and probably kept me from pulling out my hair too!

The Royal Family said...

Amen.
I don't watch the show, but I agree no one is perfect and just because Kate is being watched on tv just means we are lucky it's not us.
it's not up to us to say who is a good or bad parent. GRRRRRRRRRRR

Jewelz said...

Thanks mom! You had to put me being unobediant! Why not Jenan or Ryan or...HEY! What about Ross?!?!? Oh Well you can't undo what you have already done!

Nancy said...

I totally agree with everything you said. I especially hated when Kate bad mouthed Aunt Jody. Isn't it interesting that none of her family members are in the show. I believe she has severed all ties with her mother and siblings. Go figure. And now they are talking about making a reality show out of octomom. You could be next, Denise.

Janne said...

Amen, sister-in-law!!!!! Here's to being happy being imperfect!
Happy Monday!

Mary said...

Really, I hear ya...but, with JK+8 they have been playing out the facade of the perfect little family in front of millions of people now. What has happened is that they are PEOPLE and people are NOT perfect and now, due to the reality of life, JK+8 aren't able to keep up the facade. I am not judging them in this, it is just a fact. We are ALL human and therefore flawed. It is a fact of life.
That being said, I will go on to say that bloggie mommies post a lot about our families, but what makes most bloggie mommies different from JK+8 is that we are - most of the time - the first to show how IMPERFECT we are AND we aren't using our children (there...I SAID IT!) as the source of our family's income. Yes, there are bloggie mommies who portray the "our little family is sooooo perfect" facade, but those, I hope, are in the minority.
At the end of the day they are a family in crisis, and regardless of the show, I hope they both take notice of what is truly important and get help and focus on their family. They have eight wonderful reasons to do so! :o)

Rocksee said...

It has gotten very ugly on that show. It's sad because now, in the past two newest episodes, J and K haven't done anything together. This one tonight, was Kates birthday and she was celebrating it with the kids at Charm City Cakes with Duff Goldman, sans John..

Who really gets to do things like that?? I miss the show when they were just two people trying to make it together with 8 kids. Not, lets watch the Gosselins go to Disney, Park City, New York and hop around with celebs.

Real people don't do that.. and that I think will cost them alot of viewers and prehaps there show.

It wasn't broke, so they shouldn't have tried to fix it.

Jill said...

Denise...you have GOT THIS RIGHT!!! You hit it DEAD CENTER!!

I watched the show last night and thought of your post...quite profound friend!

Donna said...

Oh, I have such mixed feelings about J&K+8. I have many times felt sorry for her. Not because she's in the public eye...that was the choice they made. But because she let the world see how anal and critical she is of everyone. She could have pretended not to be that, but she IS that. And while I felt bad for Jon at times, he had to have known all that before they got married and before they agreed to do a TV show. And so everyone feels bad for Jon and bashes Kate and I don't think either of them deserves it as much as they get it. But the show is really old to me now. Not b/c of their marital issues...that is REAL LIFE. But b/c we do see nothing but them going everywhere, doing fun things most of us can't afford and we aren't seeing them live like normal people live. I pray they give up the show or modify the format and get some help to stay together.

As for you Denise, I love how you admit your faults and have such a great sense of humor about it all. I wish I could be more like you and less anal...like Kate.

April said...

i think kate may have been a little on the snippy side, but i also think she was the victim(?) of unfortunate editing. and nothing she said or did excuses cheating.

i hate to think what the cameras would capture in our home. not because we're bad parents, but because if you film enough of anyone you'll eventually find *something* worth watching.