Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Octuplet Mum Round Two: "Selfishly Delusional"

You know...when I was about 16 years old, I wanted to be a wildly famous and rich artist or film maker. When I got a little older, I began to learn that the desire to be famous is related to wanting to be "like God" or "close to God" after all...God is famous and known all over the world. The craving to be famous is unresolved spiritual or philosophical peace of mind. By the time I was a single mum and a practicing artist...fame seemed like a curse and a terrible thing to want...

I can wholeheartedly say that I am SO HAPPY I didn't have a film crew or cameras following me around when I was a young single mum and a young club partying dance freaking woman.

When my daughter was a baby I used to take her to Beacon Hill Park, in small town Victoria, B.C. and I would stretch out a blanket and fall asleep while she slept in her stroller. I was absolutey exhausted and was always trying to catch up on sleep. The idea of falling asleep in a public park with my baby beside me is quite ...well...horrifying...isn't it? I would never do it now and I can admit to being very naive and trusting. I just kind of give myself a quick cross when I think of it...I can see the headlines now "Single Mum Sleeps Through Kidnapping". Today it would be as bad or worse than say, Britney Spears holding her kid on her lap while driving around a parking lot.

I can only think of one thing worse than having cameras follow me around and that is...if someone publically asked my parents whether they thought I should have children on a major tv network...about me being be a single mum. I can tell you what they would have said...because they nagged me about it over and over and their opinions will probably never leave my memory.

They were dead against the idea! My father begged me to get an abortion. I can only imagine how awful it would have been to have one's parents on tv talking about this kind of stuff. Yikes!

On todays' Oprah her guest was the father of Nadya Suleman. I found him to be rather sympathetic and in shock about his daughters choices but also a fairly dedicated father...to some degree. He said he didn't want his daughter to have all these kids...but he also said and he seemed to be terribly sincere that he loved all his grandchildren and that their birth and life was God's will. He even believed that his daughtes decisions were part of God's plan. He intends to make as much money as he can till she finishes school and gets employment. He also wonders about her emotional health but says she is an intelligent and good mother.

I found this fascinating. Yes, there were audience members who were very judgmental, one woman called Nadya "reckless"..but two women had the perspective, it's done, now lets show some compassion and help the mother.

Dr. Oz described Nadya's decision as "selfishly delutional". I can't say he is wrong...I feel perhaps Nadya Suleman is a little over enthusiastic heh heh and quite likely..."selfishly delusional".

But no more selfishly delusional than anyone else in the world who drives a car, buys food that isn't organic, eats too much, buys too many clothes or houses, eats wheat, or noodles, or has a lot of animals or abuses substances...etc etc

Isn't the very nature of capitalism and the American Dream a kind of selfish delusion? Eat more for less, get more gas for less, big deals on lots of products...we have restaurants that offer deals on extra starches, Red Lobster, like many U.S. restaurants, would go out of business if it didn't have it's all-you-can-eat slogans. What about shoe stores "buy one get one" and two for one sales.

Is it any wonder an allegedly crazy fertility doctor could take advantage of a citizen who is subjected to this kind of economic doubling and layering philosophy to life? On every level we could take any persons lifestyle in North America and see how conspicuous consumption was appearing to rule the decision making of most of us.

Most people at some level in their lifestyle make decisions that are selfishly delusional. We all know noodles and bread and baked goods are processed foods and make us gain weight...but we still eat them: selfishly delusional. Our excuse: it's cheap and easy to eat these processed foods like bread and noodles...and they are "comfort foods"

We all know that the environment is affected by driving our cars...but we all still drive our cars...selfishly delusional. Our excuse: we are not able to find a way to work or shop without our cars, it's easier than taking public transit etc etc

A few days ago...when I posted this here...I was very surprised at the views towards family planning (or not) and the comments gave me much to think about and offered a wide berth of perspectives. On Oprah today...Dr. Oz said that people are reluctant to help Nadya because they feelthey can't trust her..."Will she take any donations for the children and go get a manicure?"

Meanwhile we do have all these magazines rejoicing how Heidi Klum, and Julia Roberts, and Kate Winslet, and Kate Hudson lost their baby weight. Famous images of Hollywood mums with manicures on the beach,with whole make overs after having a baby. Then...we trash Jessica Simpson and Britney Spears for shaving their heads or gaining weight.

(I am of the camp...that it's good for mothers to take care of themselves, dress clean and have manicures...so I say give Nadya donations to cover BOTH caregiving and clothing and food for the children...and her own hygiene and allowance. Why shouldn't a mother go get a hairstyle and some new yoga pants? It's common sense as far as I can tell...every other mother does!)

When I was a single parent...there were times of prejudice and hurtful comments at parent/teacher meetings...my daughter came home crying once because the kids at school had called her mum a slut. (oh they said way worse sometimes too). I had thought that the hate towards women and especially single mums (on welfare or not) had ben cleared up since Murphy Brown. Remember when Dan Quayle said a derogatory remark about the sit-com? TIME MagazineIF FOR NOTHING ELSE, DAN QUAYLE DESERVES POINTS for audacity. In modern America taking on a popular TV character, even a fictional one, is politically more precarious than taking a clear stand on a substantive campaign issue.

It seems that we still have many ideas and issues to struggle with the more science gives us...the more variables we are not expecting...outcomes that make us think. And it seems that gay parents, single parents, and poor families will continue to be the sitting ducks for attack regarding social taboos and intolerance for some time to come...rather than addressing the issues behind "get more for less" and our own delusional selfishness.

Thank you to L.M. at Digital Media Treefor the following article from The Toronto Globe and Mail

Associated Press
February 24, 2009 at 8:32 AM EST
LOS ANGELES — It seems so long ago now, but for just a day or two last month Nadya Suleman was known as Miracle Mom, the amazing woman who did what had never been done before: gave birth to the longest-surviving set of octuplets.

But in short order the public learned that Miracle Mom was also Single Mom, Unemployed Mom and Welfare Mom. And as fast as you could Twitter “I hate Nadya Suleman,” scores of Web sites were dedicated to denouncing the so-called Octomom, others to making fun of her, a rap music video lampooned her (“pops 'em out like a toaster/needs a pacifier holster”) and angry citizens threatened to kill her publicists.

“In terms of reaction to her, I would say not in my experience have I ever seen anything like it. And I would add that I was involved in public relations for Three Mile Island after the accident,” said publicist Mike Furtney, who quit representing Ms. Suleman after receiving death threats. (Lest anyone forget, the Three Mile Island accident of 1979 involved the partial meltdown of a nuclear reactor that for a time threatened to prompt the evacuation of a wide swath of Pennsylvania.)

Not that Ms. Suleman is the first person to go radioactive overnight. Don't forget O.J. Simpson. But as pop culture historian Leo Braudy points out, Ms. Suleman has never been accused of killing anybody.

“This is not something that is usually considered a crime,” Mr. Braudy, who teaches at University of Southern California, said of giving birth to children. “It's something that in the past was celebrated. People would say congratulations.”

Of the nearly 50 Suleman discussion groups found on Facebook this week, however, not one was headlined “Congratulations, Nadya!”

Instead there were titles like, “Nadya Suleman Should Be Sterilized,” “Nadya Suleman Disgusts Me,” and “Stop Idiot Moms Like Nadya Suleman.” (And those were the printable ones.)

To be fair, there were also a handful of pro-Suleman groups, although the “Leave Nadya Suleman Alone” one had only 61 members on Monday compared with the 3,478 people who had joined the “What Nadya Suleman Did Was Totally Wrong” group.

Although never venerated as a candidate for mother of the year, Ms. Suleman was, for about two days after the Jan. 26 birth of her octuplets, more the subject of curiosity than of ridicule and scorn.

That began to change as it became known she was a single mother with 14 children who was living on a combination of food stamps, student loans and disability claims while her elderly mother, who was caring for Ms. Suleman's six older children, couldn't make her mortgage payments.

It didn't help, either, that Ms. Suleman's own parents have publicly criticized her decision to have so many kids, or that Ms. Suleman bears a striking resemblance (some speculate a plastic-surgery-enhanced one) to that other famous mother, Angelina Jolie, and that she's been said to be looking for book, TV and movie deals.

Elsewhere on the Web, Jodie Rivera, a popular YouTube parody singer known as VenetianPrincess, put up a video of herself looking eerily like Ms. Suleman. As she sang, a doctor in scrubs (also Ms. Rivera) used a baseball glove to catch flying newborns.

“It was all in good fun, to bring a laugh to a situation people are taking very seriously,” said Ms. Rivera.

The site momlogic.com, which provides both lighthearted and serious reports on motherhood, also got into the act, offering eight suggestions for reality shows Ms. Suleman might do. One example: “Fear Factor: Octuplets Edition,” in which contestants are lowered by harness into the Suleman home.

“Whoever can demonstrate the guts and determination to endure one round of octuplet diaper changes wins the grand prize — a lifetime supply of birth control.”

Some people have offered to help Ms. Suleman, including a church pastor, a non-profit and even the man who says he was a sperm donor for her when they were dating in the 1990s. Although Ms. Suleman has denied that Denis Beaudoin is the sperm donor who fathered her children, he told ABC he still stands ready to help.

USC sociologist Julie Albright says Ms. Suleman was caught in a perfect storm of events guaranteed to outrage the public, some of her own making, some not.

“First, we're in particularly sensitive economic times, people are losing their jobs,” Ms. Albright said. “Second is that physical resemblance to Angelina Jolie.”

Whether it's coincidental or not, Ms. Albright said, the resemblance has led many to think Ms. Suleman is a “copycat” trying to elicit the goodwill much of the public feels for actress Ms. Jolie, who with partner Brad Pitt has adopted three of their six children from other nations.

People might normally overlook that as just silly if they weren't already worried about losing their jobs and their homes and if the state of California wasn't broke and facing the prospect of paying more than $1 million in medical bills for Ms. Suleman's babies while the state issues IOUs instead of tax refunds.

“If someone isn't stressed and something happens like their car breaks down, that's just annoying,” Ms. Albright said. “But if their parent has just died and they lost their job and their kid's in jail and then their car breaks down, that risks a nervous breakdown. ... That's what's triggering this angry, emotional response in so many people.”


Wandering Coyote said...

OK, I'm just going to stay out of this one this time!

Janet said...

You know...I just posted a bit about conspicuous consumption. I guess the thing that bothers me about this is she didn't HAVE to get pregnant, in fact, went out of her WAY to get pregnant...and if she's on welfare, how the hell did she pay the doctor? I mean...c'mon. Why should I, as a taxpayer with no children of my own, be forced to pay for someone who knowingly got pregnant and didn't have the money to take care of the babies? She needs to be responsible for herself.

Candy Minx said...

Hey Wandering Coyote, don't sweat it. It's not as if Stagg agrees with my perspective on this one. He also tends to think the reality tv show families with tons of kids are weird or obsessed too.

Janet, I totally understand why people feel concern over how someone on welfare spends their money. I mean I'm a taxpayer too. But...what if I tried to apply my economics to people on welfare? I would outlaw anyone on welfare buying flour, bread, or noodles. They are unhealthy processed foods...in fact, no one on welfare should spend my taxpayer dollars on bread or noodles.

I would rather someone on welfare have baby than buy bread or noodles. Or drive a car. I'm dead serious...but...

Well, you guys would think I was ridiculous. I believe that spending money on bread and noodles is a complete waste of money...but I still don't get to tell people on welfare how to spend their money.

If we plan social assistance do we really believe our charity is a licence to legislate behaviour of the peopl e we help?

No...I know we can't really believe it if we word it such?

I'm not saying this Nadya mother of so many children is a hero, or responsible. I think it's highly likely she is selfishly delusional...but so is everyone who drives a car. I think maybe she has gotten out of hand...but it's done. Why not use the energy for donations and gencouraging her to take family counceling and budgeting...etc etc...

She isn't harming the world any worse than someone driving a car or buying a loaf of bread.

Why should one person be allowed to make a mistake and not this woman?

America loves a witch hunt...see Salem!

tweetey30 said...

I dont know if she deserves all 14 children or not. I have a hard time with two sometimes and its the spending time with each or else. they each need there own individual attention. Its hard to say one thing and do another. Esp with that many kids. I mean my exboyfriend right before Jeff, his parents had 10 kids. I dont know how they managed it but they did. There was 5 years between the youngest of the oldest 5 and the oldest of the youngest 5. If that made any sense at all. But again fertility drugs werent used in this case.. I dont know what to say really. I know what you mean we should support her now that she has them but are they healthy. How much medical care are they going to need?? They were premies if I remember right?? Sure life takes us in different directions and such but 14 kids.. I think that is going a little over board to be honest with you.

Janet said...

I think that social assistance is a great idea...I think abuse of that system is the greatest problem it faces. When you know you can't provide for yourself, never mind a child, but you chose to bring a child (or two or three or 14) into this world and expect help? C'mon...that's just crap!

Anonymous said...

Oh, Candy,
I just wrote the longest comment, and I think it got lost. Will see if I can re-create it tomorrow when I have time.

Wandering Coyote said...

Nadia was on Dr. Phil today and will be on again tomorrow, FYI.

Anonymous said...

Dear Candy,
My comment yesterday said that first of all, I am so, so sorry you had to experience such hatred and hypocrisy when you were a young mother. To make a child cry like that and hurt her mom is unconscionable.
Then, re: Nadya S., when I heard the story unfold and she was getting so much heat, as always, I tune out the hate-ons. That kind of anger says more about the hater. I did see her dad call for compassion and help for the children and for her. The kids are here, he said, and they're precious. Right on, Dad. Re: the potential to have so many kids at once with new fertility treatments, I don't know much about the science, but I do think we need to take a look at these multiple births because it makes things very high risk for both the mother and the infants.
I also agree that a lot of the criticism of people like Nadya and Britney Spears has sexist and classist roots. With Britney, like other people, I was thinking that she was another overindulged celebrity and that she was endangering her children. When she spun out of control, I felt compassion, and was glad she got help. I was also glad the boys got the care they needed, but I bet they missed her. It was sad.
Finally, it's not easy being a mom! I don't have to tell you, dear heart, who did it on your own. When I see an obviously embarrassed mom in the market with a screaming kid, I try to offer help or a comforting comment. Instead of judging,I wish folks would offer help! You are brave to admit to an "iffy" safety situation with your daughter. I have a couple I'm not brave enuf to tell, where my son was somewhat safe but unattended. Everything ok, but, yeah, I've been there. Mothering for me was wonderful and a blessing but also anxiety-provoking and, in this day and age with the 'burbs pretty empty of kids and dogs runnin' around like they used to, pretty lonely at times. I'm less tightly wound now. Of course they're older, but a book that talked about being a "good enough" mother helped me.
Also, re: big families, they can be wonderful, but I think it takes special parents to raise large broods. I am one of six and, bless my parents' hearts, I don't think some of us got the attention we needed. It's just a huge amount of work! If we had a more communal society, it would work, but it's too much for even two parents working to raise them.
Well, I've gone on too long, but children are precious and need nurturing and help and guidance from all of us. Who knows, one of Nadya Suleman's children might be taking care of us when we're curled up in a fetal ball as old people-as helpless as those babies are now. It's all karmic...
Love and hugs to you, Candy.

Anonymous said...

Omg, I can't stop. Forgot one other thing about Nadya's alleged "addiction" to having children. It is a very heady experience to bring a child into the world. I remember wanting more, and still sometimes get pangs of regret that I didn't,still have dreams that I'm pregnant. I don't know if it's the hormones or the strong spiriutal urge, probably more so in women, to nurture. But, hey, didn't Gwyneth Paltrow say that she is "addicted" to children. Of course, reason prevails, as it didn't apparently with Nadya, but just saying it's a very powerful thing. Also, I used to be a social worker, and many times young girls with no economic prospects find meaning in life from having a child. I know it's not good, but what I'm saying is it's a real and strong urge and it's going to keep happening, so we have to try to address the poverty and mental illness and the roots of the sometimes shaky nurturing some of these young girls experience. Ok. Bye for now.

Candy Minx said...

Tweetey, I am with you...I'm sure this mother, Nadya has gone "overboard". Iget that.

My interestin the story isn't about my moral high ground and how much better I am at making decisions. The mothers perspective is the least interesting for me...I have compassion for her, for the children...but I am much more curious about the double standard.

I'll repeat, Steven Speilberg has more kids than Angelina Jolie. But he s not the butt of jokes.

There ar e many many families who go online and ask for finacial help with their families.

There are many families with multiple births, with lots of kids. Some f them have tv contracts. Like Jon and Kate Plus 8, and the Duggler family...who have more children than Nadya Suleman. They have 17 kids and ot one is sending them death threats.

Janet, I have no argument with your views. I agree that it is very difficult to understand why a person would choose to have so many children, with so little opportunity for income. I get that totally. I don't feel the same exact way, but I understand your feelings. I tend to think that the fertility doctor should be giving this woman child support. I won't be surprised if it doesn't come to that...

Janet, I think we are witnessing a social event as interesting as the first "test tube" baby a few decades ago. We are seeing a public reaction to the power of women, to fertility issues and challenges and a re-visit...to the welfare system.


You know whay? Because that way, social workers will be a support and eye for us. They will help support some of the caregiving, nutrition and childrearing techniques that are happening in the futre. Social assistance is actually not just about money...it is a way to oversee the mental and physical health of a family. We SHOULD be concerned about what goes on in these big families...in a proactive positive way...not by death threats.

I want a government agency t send nurses and doctors and social workers into Nadya Sulemans house...and when we give a bit of financial assistance it comes with a monitoring aspect.

I hope she gets a reality show too...because that would reassure us that the babies and children are safe and in a loving home.

I have researched a fair bit into the welfare system and the stats on how many people abuse the system. There really aren't that many people who abuse the welfare system. I'm not saying that Nadya isn't one of the people taking advantage of it...but it might reassure you to know that MOST people getting federal social assistance are desperate and not taking advantage. Also, having interviewed and worked with people on the system...many of them have high idealistic wishes to be working or not getting social assistance. Many feel trapped or helpless, by metal health issues, physical or social problems and are dependant...despite wanting to make a living and work.

Wandering Coyote...I missed it, but am trying to find today's episode...and am looking throhg YouTube. What I've seen on YouTube so far is very interesting!

Margeret, great thoughts. Yes, I think most parents have moments where an outsider might not agree with their choices. I wasn't completely "out of it" when I slept in the park with my daughter in the stroller...she was safe, I was blocking her......but comparing it to parks and cities today...to comparing it to todays morals and crime...well in retrospect, it seems lke a risky decision. I canimagine peopel judging the act.

But as far as suffering as a single parent, you know me better than that. :)

I don't mind telling you I was a bad ass. I wasn't shy about "opening dialogue" with the parents of the abusive bullies, or with the school board or with the principal etc. They didn't know what hit them. I was the Laura Kroft of single mums, I was Uma Thruman in "Kill Bill". ( a brilliant movie about a soon-to-be single mum)

I think your intuition about one of Nadya Suleman's children someday being a care-giver is fascinating. Yes, karma has a funny way of working itself out doesn't it? Or what if one of her children found a cure for cancer...or was just a good kind hearted human? I guess we'll see,

I suspect people will rally and donate a house, or some finances. I think it would be very healthy for the children...and for us to study the ethics of fertility assistance and contemporary culture.

This woman is no more selfish than anyone who drives a car...or buys a loaf of bread.

Which is to say...and to repeat...we aare almost 99 percent a selfish animal.

All of us.

Anonymous said...

You are bad to the bone. That you actually engaged with these people when you were raising your daughter is mind-blowing. As I always do, I would have totally internalized the meanness and been a basket case. What's the secret? I could still use some moxie dealing w/ mean people.

Candy Minx said...

Margeret, I don't term confronting bullshit as "engaging". I understand there is an idea that "not engaging" is somehow ending a behaviour...but I am not sure I always agre with this idea of "not engaging". I think sometimes, as uncomfortable as it might be, it is important to tell someone what we believe and not let some behaviour be unacknowledged. If I didn't confront the principal and parents about the bullies...I believe that condones the behaviour in schools.

Anonymous said...

"...it it important to tell someone what we believe and not let some behaviour be unacknowledged."
So true. I have trouble with conflict, and even tho' I get the shakes, I still try to do what I can, esp. when it comes to kids. Some folks think the law of the jungle should apply when it comes to kids, but I don't think most adults would tolerate having to go into work and be bullied the way some kids are forced to do in school. I admire you more; will keep reading your blog.

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