Friday, August 21, 2009

Oh Jon and Kate We Hardly Knew You

They were so much cuter back then!

Or maybe we knew you too well.

I wrote a post a while ago about appreciating J & K and their squabbly ways. How they made me feel better about my own lack of perfection in both marriage and parenting.

I stand by those thoughts.

I think that the couple they originally were on that show were to be admired for the way they managed to make their life work. None of us are perfect. Every mother/father/married/committed person I know struggles with many of the same issues that you could clearly see in those early episodes.

Whether you have 8 kids – or (thankyoujesus) not – marriage and parenthood are difficult adjustments and most of us aren’t naturally equipped with the patience or communication skills to make it work without some bickering, some tension. Some people conceal it better than others, but know a couple well enough, long enough and you'll get a peak behind the curtain.

Which is what Jon and Kate gave us with their show, originally.

I think that they did the show to help their family financially but I think, in the end, it is the show and the attendant notoriety/ fame/ pressure to maintain a story arc that did them in. Not the bickering or squabbling.

When the show started veering away from them living a normal-ish family life and went to them having a trip to Disney World/American Girl/some other crazy publicity stunt activity every week, I think it changed both the tone of the show and their own lives.

Instead of being self-referential, the show became one big advertisement for all the crazy trips you can take with your kids. And I promise you that traveling with any number of toddlers is stressful. But the sponsors want what they want, right?

And the sponsors want a juicy story. The ongoing story of a happy but chaotic family at home making lunch or going to preschool is not such a juicy story.

In addition, I imagine that waking up one day to realize that you are a balding, pudgy, thirty-year-old man with 8 kids could throw a person into premature mid-life crisis mode. Though one would have hoped that getting a chopper from the guys at Orange County Choppers would have been enough.

But hey, bring on the 20-something chicks to make you feel like a young man!

And finding yourself married to said man, while dealing with the body issues one has to deal with after birthing multiples… or even singletons… and the stress of parenting that many kids while juggling public appearances, writing deadlines and most likely some long-buried desire for some romantic attention...

As well as rumors that you are a complete hen-pecking bee-yotch…

Well, I can’t say that I am entirely surprised that they are getting divorced.

But I am sad for their kids.

I am sad for the couple that they were and could have been.

I think that a time will come when they will be sad for that couple too – years from now when all of this attention has died down and they have some perspective.

After all, with eight beautiful children, their lives are tied tightly together forever – married or not.


Jennifer said...

Hi Allison, Heather's friend Jennifer here. This is a beautifully written, well articulated, thoughtful look on this complicated relationship. I enjoyed reading it. Thanks for taking the time...


Anonymous said...

I agree with your comments and admire your loyalty to the concepts. Keep calm and carry on.
Oh yeah, keep having fun!