Calhoun’s Cannons, The Bay News, Tolosa Press, SLO, CA for March 6, 09
What’s A Mother To Do?
Timing is all. And place. Had Nadya Suleman, the controversial mother of the recently born octuplets, been living in the Soviet Union when the Soviet Union was the Soviet Union, her reproductive efforts would have resulted in being declared a Hero of the Motherland. Ditto had she been living in Hitler’s Germany, churning out 14 little volk for the glorious new Reich.
But she lives in America in the 21st century so what she got first was a deluge of media attention, full of happy surprise and congratulations, followed shortly by an acquired publicist, the dangling lure of a book contract, a promised screenplay, then some interview face time on TV, all dribbled out to maximize the 24 hour news cycle and to juice the ratings.
Alas, that was all followed by a growing suspicion, hostility, then approbation and criticism that landed her behind the eight ball. As noted in a Feb 7th L.A. Times story, Judith Eagan said she does not believe there’s a market for Suleman because “she seems so selfish and irresponsible.” Adding, “Exploiting infants for financial gain and fame is not appealing to publishers. . . . And the publishing business is so in the toilet right now I doubt she’ll find anyone sane to support her endeavor.” This from the agent behind O.J. Simpson’s appallingly notorious “If I Did It” book?
Which prompted an apparently insane Molly Jong-Fast, an agent with Vigliano Associates in New York to say “she would take Suleman’s book ‘in a minute.’ ‘What she did was amazing in her own way,’ Jong-Fast said. ‘Is this a story that deserves to be told? Absolutely. I want her number.’”
Well, it soon became clear that America had Ms. Suleman’s number even before the agent did because of the way this story played out. First we had the traditional Miracle Story – Child Down a Well Saved By Heroic Firemen, Meteorite Falls On House, Misses Room Full of Children, Cow Gives Birth to Two-Headed Calf, Farmer Amazed -- which quickly started falling into a mystery. Fertility clinic? In Vitro fertilization? She already has six kid, all of ‘em in vitro implants? What’s a woman with six kids doing at a fertility clinic? All eight of these new in vitro embryos were implanted at once? Who was that fertility Doctor? Aren’t there laws about such a reckless procedure? What do you mean, the mother’s unmarried, unemployed, lives with her folks, getting food stamps, Medi-Cal’s picking up the hospital tab, and she is now on television blithely telling the world that she wanted lots of children to love since that apparently was the only thing she felt would fix the sad hole in her heart? Who’s gonna pay for all these kids, especially since multiple births often result in kids with long-term medical issues?
So, no medals for Ms. Suleman. Only questions, the biggest of which is this: Will she become the poster child for a whole culture focused exclusively on the care and feeding of Me, Me, It’s All About Me? And since it’s all about ME, then I should get whatever I want.
Are you unemployed and can’t afford a big house? Never mind, just take the loan out anyway. Want that big screen TV but can’t afford it? Easy, put it on the plastic. Can’t afford one child? No problem, have six.
Shouldn’t Grandpa realize that nature intentionally planned an age when it’s time to shift focus from the earthly genitals to The Spiritual Pearly Gates, all part of the natural reproductive cycle of life and death? Not for the Viagra generation. Pass the pills and Gramps is good to go until senility has overtaken him and turned his chemically-induced lust into fodder for comics.
And does post-menopause Granny need to fulfill herself by becoming a Mommy again? Well, get out the Petri dish. Never mind that there’s a very good reason why nature has an optimum reproduction window for both maternal age and the number of babies carried at one time. Since it’s all about ME, I get what I want when I want it, and nature can go whistle.
And if there are consequences, they can be shoved off on somebody else. Like onto eight small children who may face a lifetime of problems because their Mommy couldn’t see past her own needs to understand that her 14 babies weren’t “medicine” to cure her own sickness.