18 kids? 19? Who’s counting?

I’d like to go on record as saying I love the Duggar’s.

I don’t think it will surprise anyone who has ever met me or read me that I have, on more than one occasion, tuned into their documentary TV series, “18 Kids and Counting” and like it. And every time they have a new baby, which occurs more often than I clean out my refrigerator, I eagerly read all about it and try to anticipate the baby’s name.

It’s not as hard as you might think if all you know about the Duggar’s is that they’re the family with 18 kids, soon 19, because all of the children’s names begin with the letter “J.”
Not to brag, but by age 11, our daughter Amanda had memorized the names of every member of the Duggar family. Her father and I were quite proud. Even with the demands of junior high, she kept up with each new child.

Even – and this is really impressive — when they appeared to run out of standard “J” names like Joshua and Jill and James and hit a streak of Josiah, Joy-Anna, Jedidiah and Jeremiah.
I am totally serious when I say this. If I had 19 children – heck, I’ll go so far as to even say 12 – I absolutely could not remember all of their names. And when I say I could not remember, I don’t mean that I’d mistakenly call one child another child’s name. I do that now and I have two kids. No, I mean that I would forget several of my own children’s names and maybe even what they looked like and that I had them.

And so I marvel, I’m sure along with thousands, maybe even millions of other mothers around the country, at Michelle and Jim Bob and how they manage to keep it together.
Still, I have wondered as Jon and Kate have been dragged through the underbelly of journalism’s underbelly, and the Octamom has been relegated to freak status, how the Duggar’s have remained unscathed.

But even as I wondered, I knew. While Jon is gallivanting all over the world with much younger girlfriends before the divorce from the mother of his eight children is final, Michelle and Jim Bob are possibly the cutest couple I have ever seen.
I mean, watch the show sometimes. They actually look like they like each other (and no, that is not necessarily a requirement in making 18 children. Once again, re: Jon and Kate Plus Eight).

As for the Octamom, Nadya Suleman really didn’t need to call Katherine Jackson as she did recently to ask if she could come to Michael’s burial because she considered herself to be his “soulmate,” in order for us to question her judgment. That was just a bonus.

According to Bill Zwecker’s column in the Chicago Sun-Times, Suleman reportedly told Jackson’s mother that going to the funeral would provide her with closure. No word on whether using in-vitro fertilization to add eight babies to six others while unemployed, receiving public assistance with without a partner to help, has given her closure on parenting.

As for the Duggar’s, I am not passing judgment on anything they do, or – in the case of birth control — don’t do. From all appearances and camera angles, all the  children seem remarkably happy and exceptionally well-groomed. They all play musical instruments – though I have noticed no drums or tubas are included in the family band (cowards) – and they all help with various chores around the house (I believe the infants, however, are exempt from this rule).

They make their own clothes and are home-schooled, which, in the eyes of many and, OK, me until I educated myself, characterizes them as something akin to cult status.
They are, in fact, Southern Baptist. Both parents have their real estate licenses. Jim Bob served two terms in the Arkansas House of Representatives and was a candidate for the U.S.
Senate in 2002. They say they built their 7,000-square foot home by themselves and live off income made by renting commercial property they own debt-free.

When they were married, Michelle at 17 and Jim Bob at 19, Michelle took birth control pills. Four years later, they decided to start their family and had their first child. Michelle then went back on the Pill, became pregnant and miscarried.

On their website, they say that after reading of the side effects caused when conceiving while on birth control, they believed “their selfish actions had taken the life of their child” and they prayed for God to teach them to love children as He did. Right after that, Michelle became pregnant with twins and they have not questioned anything that has happened since.

So why should we?

2 Responses to “18 kids? 19? Who’s counting?”

  1. Chuck

    Yes, they were living in a much smaller house (with that many kids it seemed like a closet) and built the house as a family-on TV of course. Everybody helped, even the little kids; it was fun to watch.

  2. Diane

    Duggar’s rule.


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