Jon and Kate Plus 8 has been a guilty pleasure of mine for a while. All the Discovery Health/TLC channels about large families pique my interest, actually. I think big families are absolutely beautiful. I think big Christian families are especially lovely, because there are so many opportunities to grow in love and grace. I’m convinced that when St. Paul wrote that a woman would be “saved through childbearing” (1 Timothy 2:15), what he really meant were those daily, sometimes hourly opportunities that one dies to oneself when embracing motherhood.
Jon and Kate, though… sigh… It just seems to get worse and worse and sadder and sadder. Last night, The Cupcake Episode, may have just pushed me over the edge.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’ve been defending them up until now. Editing to show what makes the best TV may not always put them in the best light, and setting up artificial situations and outings because no one, after all, wants to watch a family sitting in their playroom reading stories and coloring and snuggling all day certainly sets them up for stress. And I’ve paid absolutely zero attention to all those out there supposedly possessing insider information about this family because it’s all been so incredibly mean-spirited and gossipy.
But last night just about broke my heart. There are recaps all over the internet–just google “Jon and Kate” plus “cupcakes”–and we discussed it quite extensively in the TV forum on MDC today. I’m not going to spend my energy summarizing the show. I will share my thoughts, though.
One of the best things about being a Christian mother– and one of the scariest– is that my children learn about how God loves them by watching how I love them. “As a father (and mother!) have compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him.” (Psalm 113) It’s a crazy dauntingly huge responsibility. And yes, we teach our children about things like obedience and duty and responsibility and covenants. But we also get to teach them about grace and mercy and forgiveness and love. One of my favorite parts of being a mother is taking chances to say to my kids “Look, we have this rule, and you didn’t follow it. But I know this is important to you, so I’m going to go ahead and let you do this. It’s not because you deserve it, or because of anything you’ve done, but I’m going to show grace to you, because I love you. ” And I remember “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
If I could sit down and have tea with Kate, this is what I would tell her:
Look, I can’t pretend to know what life is like with eight children, let alone with two sets of multiples. But I do know this– God wants us to parent our children the way He parents us. He wants us to love them, and enjoy them. If doing a television show is forcing you into situations where you find yourself laughing at your children when they’re crying or in pain, or you can’t see past your rules to find a chance to extend mercy and grace, you need to rethink your priorities.
But, since the chance of me talking to her are slim and the chances of her reading this are slimmer, I will pray for her and those eight beautiful babies God has given her.