Paying the piper

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.

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10 thoughts on “Paying the piper

  1. So well said. My favorite part?

    “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.”

    So absolutely true. And if I could just add – I get that some people want to have a big family. And sometimes, when you have a big family, you can kind of rely on the older kids to help with the younger ones. Not so much when you’re having them 8 at a time. Just a thought.

  2. Good post. I have, sort of, left this alone because it is such a train wreck but you put it exactly right with a lot of compassion and objectivity.

    Obviously, this woman wasn’t thinking and my heart weeps for her kids. All 14 of them.

  3. You have described – exactly – my thoughts on this subject. I completely agree on all counts. Let’s hope those children somehow have their needs met.

  4. very well said – my heart breaks for that litter of children, and the 6 before. this is yet another example of something i’ve been running into lately. a lot. the concept of “incompetent and unaware of it”. meaning well isn’t enough. what is to be done when people do not have the basic faculties to sort out what they can truly handle?

  5. She is the reason I will never have children of my own. She is over populating the world all by herself. There is no need for me to breed.

  6. I really do worry about all those kids. I really don’t see how she’s able to care for them all. I don’t have a problem with people having as many kids as they want, provided they can care for them. This woman has no income, and it doesn’t look like she’s even trying to find a job. Some of the help she has been offered, like the free nanny service set up for her by Dr. Phill, she just threw back. Part of me is very angry over the fact that people seem to be rewarding her for being compleatly irresponsible with her life and all fourteen of her children.

    Part of me also wonders where to sign up for my free stuff. Why not? I did everything in the “right” order. I got married, finished college, I have a job, and waited until I was mature enough and in as a stable as possible position before even thinking of having a kid. Oh, alright. So me and the French Boy were living together for three years before we made it official, but as he pointed out to me, by the laws of his country, we would have been legally married by then. France does recognize common law marriage. I want to be rewarded for doing things the right way. But of course, I’m an adult now and I realize that the decisions I make have an impact. I decided to continue to behave in a mature (I hear you laughing over there, Mom.) way and do what I need to do to make the best possible life for my child. Isn’t that what a god parent is supposed to do?

  7. I think she’s off her rocker… didn’t she recently say she wanted to fire (or did fire) the helpful babysitting services that were coming in for free? And she does have some emotional issues.. I think she needs close attention–at least the children do. I don’t see this story with a happy ever after ending.

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