On Guilty Pleasures: 19 Kids and Counting
I am absolutely fascinated by the Duggar family. Their show is called 19 Kids and Counting, but I hope they change the name soon to 19 and Finally Satisfied since Mama Duggar is now 48 and her uterus probably looks like a hobo bag.
They’ve been running a ton of new episodes lately, and it seems like they always have a “special announcement” to publicize. First it was daughter Jill’s wedding, then Jessa started courting and got engaged. Then Jill got pregnant. Then their sister-in-law got pregnant. Then Jessa got married and was bold and non-traditional and served 1,000 ice cream scoops at her wedding. Then cameras followed them on their European honeymoon where they graduated from side hugs to French kisses. Now I’m sucked into watching Jill give birth on TV. I’m presuming cameras will be there for the next conception.
Just once I want one of those special announcements to be something like “Jehovah got a tongue ring and started listening to heavy metal in the garage” or “20-year-old Juniper used sarcasm for the first time”, or “Jermajesty went vegetarian and now requires his own batch of beefless tater tot casserole”. My favorite episode would definitely be “Daughter Juno side-hugged with a girl and SHE LIKED IT.”
I continue to find myself amazed that with 19 children, there are no real “defectors”. They all seem to go right along with the prescribed family values, which doesn’t happen in most families, right? They all appear to be almost unbelievably wholesome, kind, calm and good-natured. How did they get away with no teenage revolt? Where are the toddler meltdowns? Do those parents ever lose their cool? I would pay good money (eh, two to four bucks) to see the footage on the cutting room floor. There must be something we’re not seeing here. Life can’t be this easy with a family the size of a chorus line.
Michelle Duggar reminds me of every Texas preschool teacher I ever had, the kind who wore ankle socks with the little bunny pouf on the heel and long skirts with felt apples stitched around the hemline. She has this soft, gentle, sing-song voice that makes her sound like she’s constantly reading aloud from a nursery rhyme book with hundreds of little children gathered around her feet. On this last episode her youngest daughter had a seizure while she and Jim-Bob were out of town and she discussed that incident with the exact same tone of voice she uses for describing the joy of new grand babies. It was remarkable. I keep checking to see if there’s a tiny bluebird perched on her shoulder.
Jim-Bob is the consummate man of the house– provider, spiritual leader, and passionate husband to his adoring wife. He likes to bend her over and show his older kids how kissing is really done since they’re only allowed to hold hands until they get married and leave the Duggar clan. I know they home-school, but I think there are certain lessons that should be out-sourced, and making out is one of them. They should be learning that skill behind the bleachers like everyone else. But really, Jim-Bob seems like a really sweet man and he obviously cares deeply about his family. I was very touched by how emotional he became at his daughters’ weddings. He was visibly crying, and genuinely sad they were leaving the home.
Must be a very different set of emotions when you get married at 21 or 22 and it synchronizes with leaving your parents’ home for the first time. I got married at 35 and hadn’t lived at home since I was 17, so when my bridesmaid said to my dad on my wedding day: “Aww, your little girl’s getting married today!”, his response wasn’t tears or loving praise. It was “Little girl? Jesus, she’s practically middle-age!”.
Clearly, I grew up in an environment very different than the Duggar offspring. I am one of only two children. Our house was generally pretty quiet and without chaos. There were no mini-vans in our driveway, only sports cars. My parents are well versed in sarcasm, mood shifts, and profanity. We used to gather around the TV and watch Beavis and Butthead as a family. We weren’t home-schooled, but the next door neighbors were and we thought they were weird. My teenaged brother taped black garbage bags all over the attic and lived up there till he developed heat stroke. I refused to help my mother cook. My parents divorced.
We did love us some casseroles though.