Surely I don't have to tell you about Nadya Suleman, the 33-year-old single mom of six in Cali, who recently increased her team to 14 when she had eight more kids via in vitro fertilization.
There's been a ton of controversy over this story, 'cause Suleman is single, 'cause she is apparently broke or close to it, 'cause she doesn't seem to have a game plan for how to take care of these kids (other than getting reality TV show and selling her story to tabloid and foreign media), 'cause she seems to have a fantastical notion about the kids as though they're cuddly dolls, 'cause her doctor apparently violated the standards set by the American Society of Reproductive Medicine on how many embryos to implant during IVF (three max is recommended, but six were implanted in Suleman).
I really hadn't planned on writing about Suleman, 'cause what else is there to say? But then I came across thisarticle today from Time Magazine, in which Time columnist Nancy Gibbs calls for a "truce" in the debate over Suleman.
Gibbs argues that maybe Suleman has received unfair scrutiny 'cause she's single and what not.
She points out that other big families have been celebrated - like the McCaughey septuplets in 1997 and the Duggar family in Arkansas.
The McCaughey parents received a congratulatory phone call from then Pres. Bill Clinton, they got free vehicles, a free house, free baby supplies, food for life, etc. They were heroes in that only-in-America way.
The Duggars, a deeply religious family, whose story is chronicled in a reality show on The Learning Channel, have 18 kids.
I have to admit that Gibbs has given me pause and made me question why I've felt so scornful of Suleman and why she's caught so much of a public backlash. But in the end, I think it boils down to perception, right or wrong.
For fear of being called politically incorrect, people are afraid to just come out with it and say everything that bugs them about this case. I've heard and read the word "irresponsible" used dozens of times in reference to Suleman.
Frankly, I agree. Her parents say she's struggling to raise the six kids she already had 'cause there's not enough money and not enough time in the day to care for them. So it's clear she didn't plan, and maybe didn't care to plan for the inevitable increase in expenses - even if she'd just been adding one kid to her brood.
But let's be honest. The other big reasons that Suleman is catching grief is that she projects a flippant attitude toward the traditional family structure.
She refers to the eggs and sperm as being "mine" and "my babies" and so on, and is defiant about wanting to raise them alone, and only sheepishly after the fact says she hopes the sperm donor will want to be involved in the kids' lives.
At a time where bureaucrats, pundits, politicians and clergy, etc., are blasting the number of single young moms with no means, I see where Gibbs is going with her column, but the truth is there are differences between Suleman and the other two families used as examples.
The Duggars, regardless of what you think of their religious beliefs or their hectic lifestyle, have a plan, they have steady income, and they have structure. If you've ever watched that show, that family is regimented like a military barracks.
And the McCaugheys were a first, the first family in the U.S. to have seven surviving babies at once. So they were history-making. Yes, they got lots of freebies, but, like it or not (maybe they had better PR people), they presented a more stable image.
So I'm not mad at her for wanting to be a mom or for being single. But I can't be mad at her critics who call her irresponsible and question her commitment to family, 'cause if it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck...