Wednesday, December 14, 2011

We're only 14 kids behind

I was sad when I heard that Michelle Duggar, the mom from that show "19 Kids and Counting," miscarried child #20 a couple of weeks ago. Losing a baby is not something Terry and I have experienced, but I imagine it's a source of sorrow and pain that doesn't go away very easily.

Say what you will about the Duggars (and people say a lot about them), but they do live by their principles, don't they? They've decided to let God determine the number of children they should have. And so far, He has determined they should have nine girls and 10 boys.

Like almost everything in this country nowadays, the very existence of these kids is polarizing. Most of the people I run across are horrified by the Duggars, even angered. They'll tell you it's selfish to have that many children, and that they can't possibly give each one the individual attention he/she deserves.

Jim Bob and Michelle probably hear that a lot, and it can seem even worse when you learn that they have instituted a "buddy system" whereby an older child in the family is responsible for caring for a younger child. It's efficient, yes, but it almost makes Michelle seem like more of a CEO than a mom, though I'm sure she is plenty involved in the day-to-day operations of Duggar Offspring, Inc.

I don't know that I have an opinion one way or another. I have enough to worry about with my own brood, which is only a quarter the size of the Duggars'. Like any set of parents, Terry and I make sacrifices to ensure our kids get the things they need, including time and attention. As I've often said, having five kids like we do is pretty uncommon these days, but it wouldn't have been all that remarkable in the time and place where I grew up.

Still, we personally know plenty of larger families. Blog reader Patti Marn and her husband Don have six kids, as did at least one former Wickliffe family I can think of (the O'Neills). Terry's cousin Brian and his wife Laura have 10 children -- six biological and four adopted from Africa. But for the most part, big families aren't the norm in 21st-century America.

One of the reasons I'm glad we're out of the baby game is that I honestly wouldn't know what to name another child. The Duggars opted to give all of their kids J-initialed names (in order: Josh, Jana, John-David, Jill, Jessa, Jinger, Joseph, Josiah, Joy-Anna, Jedidiah, Jeremiah, Jason, James, Justin, Jackson, Johannah, Jennifer, Jordyn-Grace, and Josie).

Two of my favorite things about that list:

(1) True story -- When I first saw the name "Jinger," I pronounced it with a hard "g," like "finger." Terry very gently pointed out that it's probably pronounced the same as "Ginger," just spelled with a "J." Oh.

(2) As many of my friends and family have heard me say, I absolutely love the fact that it wasn't until kid #17 (and girl #7) that they went with "Jennifer." Really? One of the most common female "J" names, and it took you 17 kids to get around to it? You thought of Jessa, Jinger and Joy-Anna ahead of Jennifer? OK, fine, but according to the White Person's Guide to Naming Babies, "Jennifer" trumps all of those names and should have come first. Just saying.

In the end, as far as I'm concerned, the Duggars can have 30 kids if the spirit moves them. Jim Bob is a successful real estate developer who can apparently afford to support a whole football team, if it comes to that. But given the course of Michelle's last two pregnancies (a miscarriage and an emergency C-section), they might want to consider the possibility that God -- as well as Michelle's uterus -- may be telling them it's time to quit. Again, just saying.


  1. Patti aka Mrs. Marn(hate being called this) aka MammaDecember 15, 2011 at 11:52 AM

    Having complications with my first-born's delivery, I was given last rites. Baby at risk as well as myself. After my first, I had a miscarriage. Had 5 more after that....each birth, it's own story. Pregnancy #8 is a painful, yet, loved-filled memory....a little boy born to soon to live in this world. As I held the tiny, all-to-perfect, lifeless being, I was overwhelmed with guilt. My body failed and a soul didn't get a chance to experience life as we know it. Michael taught me a lesson about life, love,selfishness and letting go without ever taking a breathe. Could life be attempting to teach the Duggars a lesson?

    Let me end with this, Michael is in Heaven, this is a given. One of my children made it! Not sure 'bout the other 6.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing, Patti. I didn't know about Michael, but the story (and the way you express it) add a much-needed dose of perspective to the post. I'm sure everyone appreciates your willingness to relate such a painful experience.

  3. 1) As you know, I can relate to the miscarriage angle of the post. As much as I don't agree with the Duggars, it's hard to accept that when that happens it is "God's will." That just seems to be an easy way of answering the impossible question of "why?"

    2)If I have to hear one more time how funny you think it is that it took them so long to use the name Jennifer...