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Slices of Life... Sometimes love isn't enough

We are living in a crazy world.

It's a world where a single, unemployed mother of six children under the age of eight who is living with her parents (did I mention she's unemployed?) can find a doctor willing to give her fertility treatments so she can give birth to eight more babies.

It breaks my heart.

I am an advocate of large families. I understand where Nadya Suleman - the mother of eight (plus six) - is coming from. I have four kids, but would have had more if the circumstances had been right. I love children.

Loving children is probably one of the few things that Nadya Suleman and I claim to have in common, "claim" being the operative word here.

Any parent, any caregiver, will tell you that while necessary, love is not enough. Healthy children need (Oh, where do I start?) baths, blankies, bottles, cribs, car seats, Cheerios, diapers, jammies, pacifiers, sippy cups, medical insurance - and that's just the tip of the parental iceberg of responsibilities.

It's not enough to love children. You have to be able to care for them. This involves expenses, energy and endurance. Without lots of help (or a lucrative deal with People magazine) Nadya Suleman does not have the resources to care for 14 children. I don't make the rules of this planet; I just follow them.

To top it off, Nadya's parents claim that she has serious mental health issues, some of which include being addicted to having children. Who would've guessed?

In a frustrating moment outside his house near Los Angeles, her father, Edward, said to reporters, "I wish it happens to you people, so you go through hell." That sounds like a happy grandpa with a pacifier in his pocket, ready to bounce a cutie or two (or eight) on his knee, doesn't it?

Nadya's mother, Angela, seems to be on the same page as Edward (even though she and Edward are divorced, but live in the same house - this family is making more and more sense all the time.) Angela reported that Nadya was only hoping to get one more girl and then went on to add with a sigh, "I just wish she'd been a kindergarten teacher."

That is a slap in the face to all the kindergarten teachers I know.

I'm not sure where the answer lies in this mess. I'm not convinced about outlawing fertility treatments to parents of large families, single parents or of parents with mental health issues. Regulation of this type can be more complicated than it is good. I do know that everything about this particular situation feels selfish and wrong.

A single woman - apparently mentally ill, apparently unemployed and financially strapped, apparently living with her parents, apparently already mother to six other fatherless children - manipulated the medical system (or at least one naive doctor) into implanting embryos (as many as eight) into her uterus. This makes no sense to me for one simple reason: I love children.

And loving children means more than being addicted to giving birth to them.

Let's not forget, once the dust has settled, there are eight little human beings who need care and supervision. These six boys and two girls had no part in creating the situation they were born into. They deserve only the best; I think we can all agree on that.

So we are faced with two problems: What is society's role in providing a good life for Nadya Suleman's children? And, how do we prevent this from happening again?

It started out simply enough. Nadya Suleman wanted just one more girl. She ended up with two - and a whole lot of attention questioning her motives and ethics. With good cause. Because, at the end of the day, Nadya Suleman may love children, but given her circumstances if that's all she can offer, sadly, it just isn't enough.

Jill Pertler is a syndicated columnist and award-winning freelance writer working with graphic designer Nikki Willgohs to provide writing and design and other marketing services to businesses and individuals. You can check out their Web site at http://marketing-by-design.home.mchsi.com/ or e-mail Jill at pertmn@qwest.net.

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