“After a time, you may find that having is not so pleasing a thing after all as wanting. It is not logical, but it is often true.”
Star Trek’s Spock
Humans want things. We want to travel and have new experiences. We want to be loved. We want to be successful and have good self-esteem. We want to have tasty things to eat. We want… it’s a multiple choice answer. Pick one from column A and one from column B and so on.
In what is probably a fortunate coincidence, what we want is limited by our resources. While I want to be on an around-the-world permanent vacation, my clients would find it somewhat inconvenient. So I’m here, earning money to take occasional journeys to warmer lands.
This need to be able to afford our wants also contributes to other lucky moments like the fact that you don’t come home totally covered in tattoos from the night you were on the Bowery drunk enough not to care, and the situation that everyone isn’t driving Hummers just because they come in pretty yellow. Or that people remain faithful to their spouse or significant other, even though they see someone else who catches their momentary fancy. Wants have costs.
Out of all the hoopla about Nadya Suleman and her “Octomom” status, I guess this is what tugs at me the most. She wanted children. Lots of children. She and her husband divorced because they couldn’t have children, and she conceived her first six with the help of a sperm donor. In listening to her interviews, she seems confident that she could care for and be an excellent mother to her children, no matter how many there were. She studied and received a degree in child and adolescent development, and so she should be as prepared as any woman for motherhood.
Now I always wanted children, too. But I got through college. Then I had two. I went through law school and then had another. I picked up others through marriage, and then adopted my current three when I had a stable home and plenty to offer them. I’d like to think I can care for them and be an excellent mother, to the extent its possible with their issues.
Children with autism and other developmental disabilities require more time than your average child. Significantly more. Nadya apparently admitted in an NBC interview that two of her first six children had some form of autism and another has ADHD. Given that anyone has 24 hours in a day, seven days in a week, the amount of extra care to be given to these special needs children will suck time away from those remaining. It’s almost impossible to do in a two-parent household, but as a single mother? Very challenging. Those costs are starting to mount up.
So what could she have been thinking, a single woman on welfare who says she wants to be able to provide her children with all the time and attention each needs, to have herself impregnated with more? Even given that she didn’t expect to have eight viable babies, what is the cost of this want?
Not counting the financial cost to the state for the actual delivery and extended specialty care (horrifying) or the anticipated ongoing dole of state benefits to support 14 children (again, horrifying), but the potential for more special needs/special care children as is often the case with premature multiple births, not to mention the emotional investment to care for just the eight children– What about those she’s already brought into the world? The ones, like mine, who need so much investment to accomplish what others seem to do so effortlessly?
Can she really say she cares so much about each of them when she’s relegating them to some limited few-minutes’ window of her time each day? If that?
I can’t judge the truth of various statements people have made, like the claim she did this to get her own reality show or get rich quick with the money she can earn exploiting the children through photos, etc. If she really is the concerned mother she claims to be, we would have to hope these are only false rumors. Certainly there has been plenty of talk about it and will continue to be.
All I can do is wish those children well, hope Ms. Suleman takes advantage of the genuine help being offered to her, and hope the ultimate costs of such decision-making discourage others from indulging their wants. Because having 14 children to deal with day in and day out may not be as pleasing as wanting them.