Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Gr8 Kate

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Celebrities or non-celebrities, reality TV stars can be polarizing figures. I have been following the Gosselin family for years, many years, since their original TV specials when the septuplets were infants. Big Girl and I always enjoyed watching the antics of the children, and marveled at the idea of what it would be like to have such a big family.

After all, at the time, Big Girl was an only child. the idea of multiple siblings fascinated and intrigued her. She laughed at those babies and loved their adorable faces. She related to the older twins. When the show was on TLC, she would ask "Was a new one on last night?" And usually, on hubby's golf night, we would plan a snack and watch the show.

Was I a big Kate Gosselin fan? Well, yes and no. I loved the show. I loved the kids. Did I sometimes think Kate was a little... well... harsh? Or crabby? Of course. But reality TV is not really reality TV, and we all know that. We know it's not totally scripted, a little tweaked, but we also know that the cameras only follow the "stars" on certain days, and the editing monkeys can have a field day with just one off-kilter moment.

In many ways, I knew that I shared many traits of Kate. I like order. I like "themes" and planning and special family moments and creating memories and outings and capturing it all on film. I get crazy sometimes over dirt and messes. I'm frugal and I try to use coupons and shop wisely and get cranky when it doesn't work out. And I've said things to my husband and daughter that I knew I maybe shouldn't have said, or reacted poorly in situations with them.

But I'm not on TV.

Kate Gosselin, that polarizing figure, attracts passionate arguments about why one loves or loathes her. It's about as crazy as a stay-at-home mom vs. working mom argument. Message boards are devoted to discussing Kate and her family. Psycho haters stalk her on Twitter. Paparazzi love catching her in an awkward moment. Rumors are spread about her family and anyone within 10 feet of her.

My opinion of Kate has changed in many ways over the years, starting with her public divorce. Her divorce was truly painful to watch, in my opinion. I felt truly sorry for her as we watched her marriage fall apart on TV.

And then, not long after her divorce, I had twins. And that really changed it all. Twins are HARD. Really hard, in my opinion, particulary when you already have an older child and your twins are active toddlers. Kate G. has come to my mind on many, many days in the two years -- I can't imagine having more than these two small beings in my house. Let alone twins first, and then sextuplets, and then single motherhood.

I get why she has help -- my mom helps me a lot and I couldn't do it without help. I get why the family took up the opportunity to be on TV with its paycheck. Having kids is expensive. I get why she sometimes griped over gum and markers and crumbs. I'm real enough to say I've had those moments too.

Again -- I'm not on TV.

There's a certain grace one must learn when one is thrust into the spotlight. Sometimes one handles it well, but most people have a very big learning curve, and the latter, I believe, is normal. I am not a celebrity, but where I live a few strangers know me for my writing in local publications and my support of certain local politicians and important local issues. I've had some awkward moments, and I understand, in a small way, what judgement is. It's not easy to handle those awkward moments, or the judgement that follows, trust me.

So that is why my opinion of Kate has changed. I see her a little bit differently today. She can't take back any of the past -- none of us can. She survived a painful and public divorce. She's got to provide for her children, but now she's a celebrity. And so are her children. She needs to keep them safe, and feed and house them. I personally don't believe it's possible for her to suddenly take a regular job and put them in public school and move to a three-bedroom cape. Some may not agree with this. But clearly this mom is trying to keep her children's lives "normal" when it's really not normal and trying to keep their routine the same despite their parents breaking up and losing major income and opportunity from a TV show all at the same time. I give her a tremendous amount of credit for trying to "keep on keepin' on." She's a strong lady in that respect.

Last weekend, my daughter and I returned from her Girl Scout camping trip to see that Kate was running in a local road race just 8 miles from my house on the very next day -- an annual, legendary race which some friends and family members were already running. Big Girl immediately said "Can we go??? Please??"

Other than dealing with the mound of camping equipment in the garage and the accompanying laundry, we didn't have anything planned. The hubby actually had to work the next day, so I figured maybe I would attempt a spontaneous outing on my own. We looked at a map, and chose a spot on the course where the runners passed by twice. Snacks and amusements and water packed, we headed to our chosen spot and parked out to cheer everyone on.

The crowd of runners in this race is huge (1,700!), and they all kind of blend together at certain points, but I was able to pick out Kate. God bless that woman for the sheer fact she has the stamina to do this race. It's on the top 10 list of hardest small town races in the country, with a killer hill at the end. She was holding her own in that race -- not just using her celebrity, she was using her muscles and sweat.
Kate waves to me & my twins-plus-one!
On her left is NYC marathon champ Rod Dixon, who invited her to the race.
Kate appeared at Dixon's KidsMarathon children's race event
on the previous day with her brood.
We cheered her on twice, on her way by and then later on her way back as she headed toward that final evil point called Gallows Hill. She didn't just blindly wave, but totally made a point to seek out our faces when she heard our cheering, and smiled and waved both times. And here in small town Connecticut where celebrities are commonplace and this race is really about running -- not reality TV -- those sitting nearby didn't even give her a second glance.

Big Girl was thrilled to see someone who she has watched on TV for a while, which made the adventure worth it. And I was inspired to see her run, believe it or not -- as someone who would like to get in shape, it's always good to find a little inspiration somewhere, especially from Kate, who once said that moms "get a pass" on their appearances until all their young children are in school. That one statement took a lot of my "the twins are 2 and I still have baby weight and feel unfashionable" guilt away when I read it last year. Thank you, Kate!

(And even though it was Big Girl's wish to see Kate at the race, it spurred us to go cheer on others we knew running, and it gave us the opportunity to see some really awesome atheletes from all over the world who came to run -- some you will see in the London Olympics later this year! It was very inspiring and truly amazing to see their grace and speed.)

It appears TLC isn't having Kate back for more programs in the near future, but I don't think she'll fade away. From watching Kate's recent Today show interview, I think Kate is shopping around for some reality show opportunity, and I know that I would watch her. I'm most interested in her tips on raising multiples and organization and shopping. Of course, like many viewers, I feel vested in seeing how the kids grow and what they do. I would read a book, if she wrote another one, and I do read her Coupon Cabin blog posts regularly. I would probably watch re-runs of "J&K Plus 8" if they were still on, with a different point of view now, and I've re-read Multiple Blessings just for some comfort in times when I needed it as a "Mom of Multiples."

I've always liked the phrase about walking a mile in someone's shoes. It has never been so true to me as it has after I had twins. Few understand what it's like to raise more than one baby at once. And few likely understand what it's like to be Kate Gosselin. I think we can all learn to try and walk -- or run :) -- a mile in other's shoes, whether it's Kate or some other stranger, before we totally judge what they face in their private lives. Try it.

21 comments:

  1. Really? You really like her and want to be like her? Please don't.

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    1. I never said I wanted to be "like" her, although with introspection I realize I am probably more like her than I ever realized. I did want to make the poin that I "get" her more than I ever did because I can relate to many things that she was criticized for. But I just want to be me and only me. People are overly harsh toward this woman for ridiculous reasons... That's what I wanted to point out.

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  2. Why do you portray Kate as a single mom, doing it all on her own? Jon is an active, involved, loving father who recently went to court to get MORE time with the kids than Kate was allowing him. You're not a journalist; you're a fan.

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  3. "Those sitting nearby didn't even give her a second glance"...That's because she is a L O S E R!!!!!!!!!

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  4. Hi Kellie, what a wonderful article. I have a great deal of admiration for Kate. It takes strength, stamina and shear determination to handle what she must face every day. No one will ever change my mind on that. No matter how many hateful replies this post might attract.

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    1. I saw Kate's tweet linking to your blog, Kellie, and I really enjoyed reading your P.O.V.! :-) I also have a "plus 1" who is 11 and 3 y/o pre-k B/G twins, and I agreed with almost 100% of what you wrote. We watched the show from the first specials and having just one at that time in another state w/o family was difficult, and like you, when my twins came along, WOW. Hard to believe how much work is involved WITH helpers, much less having 6 at the same time! There's hours and hours of documented evidence from TLC that Kate is indeed a hardworking mom who loves her kids and does everything she can for them to have their future finances under control--I see the haters have already descended here but you are spot on. Glad your 'plus 1' got to enjoy your marathon 'adventure' :-) and that you "get" Kate's efforts to take care of herself and her children the very best she can, what mother does NOT want what is best for their child/ren?? :-) Thanks for the nice words above!

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    2. Aren't you that creepy old lady who stalks everyone on twitter cjwhodunit?

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  5. Very well written and I agree with you completely. I think many people have no idea how hard it is to be a mother with multiples. Nobody's perfect, but I have a huge amount of respect for the effort Kate puts in and I truly believe she's always done what she thinks is best for her children.

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  6. Boy, I guess I know who to write about to get some controversy brewing on my blog! I agree with you about her - although I can't relate to her as a mom of multiples. I liked the show a lot early on but then it just got too wacky for me. And I really don't like to watch couples fight so when that all started I pretty much stopped watching.

    But you're right, we all probably have said the same or similar things to her under stress but we're not on tv. I'd be willing to bet that she'd take back all the fame and fortune to have her marriage back. I think reality tv really does a number on a marriage.

    A family in town also had sextuplets about 5 or 6 yrs ago. They had a tv show for a season or 2 & they are now separated. I'm sure having cameras in your face all the time is stressful - even if you think it would be fun at first.

    And you're right again about walking a mile in someone's shoes. You just don't know until you've been there. And it's so easy to criticize but no one knows what really goes on behind closed doors.

    Great article. I really enjoyed it. :)

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    1. Debra, thank you! I knew this might get some controversy brewing but the blog blew up today. Pretty amusing actually -- people are crazy over nothing. I'm just trying to speak the truth as it is to me. Thanks for being a faithful reader.

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  7. I think ur story is super awseome. Im also a mother of many. 5 which includes a set of twins that just turned 2. Nobody can even begin to imagine what its like to raise 2 the same age from birth until u have walked a mile in their shoes. Even with twins, i wldnt know how in the world i cld get by raising twins + sextuplets. She is supermom in my eyes. And by the way.... Nice to meet u Multi-mom. :)

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  8. And it's SEXtuplets, not SEPtuplets...

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    1. Oops! Typo. Thanks for catching it!

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  9. I would love to see Kate and her 8, do a show on divorced families, moving forward. The series needed other family and friends, it started to get boring after a while. I wish Kate and Jon and the kids all the best with their relationship in raising the children.

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  10. To the writer: I notice you keep your daughters name private and refer to her as Big Girl. Why is that? Is it because you think as a child she is entitled to her privacy? Why then do you support Kate exploiting her children? You also hope she gets another show to continue exploiting them? Sure Kate can do whatever she wants, famous or not, but her children deserve their privacy. I will never support Kate in her continued quest to exploit her children. All other things about Kate (personality, rudeness etc) aside how can you support her exploiting her children?

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  11. This woman is a hustler, grifter, con artist and so many other disgusting things. I see she even has you fooled. Why don't you tell her to get a job...because she is also a deadbeat parent. How do you admire someone who won't even work to put food on the table? Shw can't go back?? That's BS...she just wants to be "famous". Please start supporting your childern. Come back to reality...you're 15 are up...Why put yourself through this humiliating torture...

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  12. Great post Kellie. I used to enjoy watching when the kids were younger and it was more real. Once the show became hour long infomercials for whatever freebie they were getting I started to lose interest.
    I think what polarized people about Kate is the way she defines "taking care of her kids". Maybe they feel that Kate and crew could do with less which would then lessen Kate's (and Jon's)burden of trying to provide it.
    I also think that TLC has a role in the whole thing. Clearly as things began to fall apart they should have said, "we are going to stop filming so you can regain your family", but nope, they continued to hype the disintegration. No family is perfect and who are we to judge. There before the gradce of God... :0)

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  13. Kate treats people like her servants. She hits her kids. She puts money and fame before her kids. She is a horrendous woman.

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