In a time of sobering numbers, none raised eyebrows last week quite like six plus eight — the story of the California octuplets born to a single mother of six, who sought in vitro fertilization.
This is a tabloid-style story that will likely have some staying power. It’s a morbidly fascinating tale. We wonder how a woman with six small children, who lives with her parents, could do this. We wonder how fertility doctors could help her do this.
In a time where so many feel such hurt inside as they worry about their own family’s financial outlook, the California mother’s poor decision opens the door for a flood of public disbelief and outrage.
This was a reckless, irrational physical and fiscal act on a level that we can understand, not like our puzzling economy. A misguided mother can be summoned to mind. A credit default swap cannot.
Of course, those smarter-than-us financiers are getting the government’s dime, much more than any welfare mom, and even giving themselves billions in bonuses with taxpayer money for leveraging our money in truly risky ways. But my outrage is tempered by my confusion, the constant reminder that I am saddled with a certain economic ignorance no matter how much time I spend these days on businessweek.com — which I’ve found is a pretty good site for clarification on complex economic matters.
Anyway, I’m so tired of my constant obsession with the economy that I’m willing to be pulled to anything else noteworthy in the news. I think others are too.
And I found myself spending a lot of time this past week thinking about the California mother, Nadya Suleman, and pondering the astonishing fact that it took 46 hospital personnel to deliver her children.
Actually, I have spent more time thinking about Suleman’s mother, the one who didn’t make the choice but who will be saddled with untold responsibility.
“The grandmother is taking care of her daughter’s first six children, ages 2 through 7, while her 33-year-old daughter recovers from giving birth on Monday in nearby Bellflower,” stated an Associated Press story on the octuplets.
I imagine the grandma of 14, sitting in her living room with her six grandkids, the bright blocks and assorted toy plastics already littering the floor. I picture the crying, the tantrums, the looming breakfasts, lunches and dinners, the constant dipping of the spoon for six — soon to be 14 — helpings of applesauce. I think of the grocery list, the diapers, the changing table that will soon be an assembly line. I think of bedtime, how nighttime stories in that house will resemble a public speaking exercise.
The day-to-day logistics of a single mom with 14 kids include countless hardships. The grandmother will want to run, but she’ll probably feel bound by her daughter’s decision. Of course, many will note that the grandma, in fact, holds some blame by enabling her daughter to make such a choice.
And what a time to do this.
Bringing a child into the world now should give anyone at least a moment of pause. We hear so many horrifying economic forecasts, that having children and moving forward with a new generation is an act that requires optimism — a great leap of faith — in the face of overwhelming negativity. Of course, that’s always been true, but the volume on the negative knob is cranked to 10 right now.
When I think of that California family, I recognize that their bailout may come from the government, as so many people have suggested.
But ironically, there could be a free-market fix for the ultimate in welfare nightmares — mama’s book deal or mama’s TV movie.
Sadly, in our society, when you go so far out of the norm that you drop everyone’s jaw, there’s money to be made.
Zach Mitcham is editor of The Madison County Journal.
In reference to this womam, I'm sick of hearing "it takes a village to raise a child" What ever happened to raising your own children? Why are people allowed to keep having kids when they cannot pay for them and the burden is put on the taxpayer?