The Jon & Kate debate

Did he? Did she? Will they? Won’t they? Come join the conversation on everyone’s favorite family: The Gosselins. Don’t worry. We do discuss the hair.

Editor’s note: Today’s feature is the latest installment of our parenting column written by two sets of Richmonders: Jorge and Patience Salgado (veteran parents of four gorgeous children), and Ross and Valerie Catrow (parenting rookies who have only been doing this “raising a child thing” for a few months). Check back fortnightly to watch them discuss/agree/disagree/throw down over all kinds of parenting issues, Richmond-related and beyond.

Today’s question: What do you think about Jon & Kate Plus 8?

The Salgados

She scrubs the floor on her hands and knees three times a day… well, she did before they got uber famous. Extreme cleanliness mixed with a little OCD – these are things I do not have in common with Kate. Being pissy and annoyed however, I seemed to have mastered this year when we added our fourth child to the mix. I’ve been obsessed recently with making comparisons, analyzing, praying that I am not watching (albeit a slightly nicer version) myself on the screen.

This deeply offends Jorge. “If you think you are Kate, then that makes me that guy, I am NOT that guy!” he says.

It’s true. We are not Jon and Kate for a lot of reasons, but mostly because we have half the children and probably half the stress. If I try to put myself in their shoes, even before all the drama, I still cannot imagine the magnitude of it all. When that many little people need you, want you, depend on you, it must take you places you probably could never even imagine. The truth is we liked them because they showed us how hard it really is. Even in the midst of all the silly contrived outings it felt like they were the real deal, warts and all. Unlike the Duggar lady whose smile and infinite patience completely freaks me out and seems kind of robotic. We found comfort in the belief that perfection is not the end all but rather being together the best way we know how is.

It seems somewhere along the way (maybe it was the heaping amounts of fame and fortune) they lost each other. Would college girls really be following that guy around in a bar without the notoriety? Would Kate’s hair continue to reach new levels of weird without the cash? I don’t think so. So now we get to watch another family and relationship dismantled by reality television. The kids are the only part that remains ever the same. I try to drum up some judgment for their choices, but the only result is deep sadness. It all feels so terribly tragic. I wish they would turn the cameras off and go home. Cancel all the help and speaking engagements, put the bestselling books on the shelf, sit around, watch movies, yell at whiny children, cry and talk, maybe even scrub the floor three times a day.

The Catrows

Let me begin by saying that, of course, I don’t actually *know* Jon & Kate. So, like everyone else, my opinion of them and their choices are 1) based solely on what TLC decides to show me and 2) not at all relevant to their lives (nor should they be).


I watched the majority of the season premier through my fingers while suffering through actual chest pains because of the awkwardness. But I kept watching because I’m a sucker. Mostly.

I have to admit (and it PAINS me to do so), but I can relate to Kate on some level.

Becoming a mother to even one child can bring out the crazy in you. I speak from personal experience. As does my husband.

So, you’ve got your standard mother crazy (coupled maybe with some pre-existing crazy), multiply it by eight, add to that a guy who admittedly had little direction when he got married at 22, and by 27 was the father of twins AND sextuplets, sprinkle a little reality TV on there, and you’ve got yourself a big old batshit crazy casserole. Also known as Jon and Kate Gosselin.

I bring this up because, in my opinion, Jon and Kate Gosselin are very much like Britney Spears in that when you consider the context and circumstances of their lives, it would be weirder if they weren’t complete disasters.

Consequently, Jon and Kate have become a cautionary tale for me, a hyperbole if you will. A big, fat sign painted with bright, red letters spelling out “Look what will happen to you if don’t step back and reckanize.” Their life is almost like an exaggerated version of what so many couples are going through as they navigate the sometimes insane existence that is marriage and parenting.

And the fact that their life circumstances are self-imposed doesn’t make it any less sad. They’re a family. They’ve got kids who are feeling this tension at least at some level. I hope none of us would wish the pain of separation and divorce on anyone.

To be honest, I will likely keep watching the show. I will keep yelling, “Jon! Stop mumbling!” at the screen. I will keep being baffled by Kate’s hair. I will keep thinking that Aaden is the cutest of all the kids. And I will keep rooting for them in all of their wacky glory.

(photo courtesy of TLC)

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Patience Salgado

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