Friday, July 3, 2009

Dear Jon and Kate

Ours is a weird, kind of one-sided relationship. You have no idea who I am, nor do you probably care, and yet I feel like I know you and your family inside and out. TV can do that. I also feel like Oprah's one of my closest friends, but I digress.

You know, people have had very strong opinions about you from your very first episode. Opinions about your choice to use fertility treatments, opinions about your decision to carry all six of the babies to term, opinions about whether or not you are exploiting your children by agreeing to have camera crews practically living in your house, and very heated opinions about your marriage.

For the record, Kate, I've been a defender of you and your marriage and your family from the get-go, even on this blog. Yes, I'm aware that you're bossy and controlling and insensitive and sometimes downright b*tchy (excuse me, young readers), but still I said, "Well, we haven't walked in her shoes." And, "I'd probably be that side of crazy too if I had six 2 year olds. (or 3 year olds, or 4 year olds, etc.) We all have personality flaws, and we're usually more aware of them personally than others give us credit for, but still I tried to focus on all of your strengths. I do believe you love your babies, all 8 of them. I believe your most fervent desire is to be a good mother and to raise a joyful family. I commend you on your hard work to keep your children and your home in order, and on all that organic cooking you do for them to build their healthy bodies. (Though may I say that I don't believe organic lollipops are any healthier than regular lollipops--you may be disillusioned on that one.) I have a lot of kids myself, and mothering many is a very heavy, full-time load. I don't know that I could do what you have done for the last five years.

And yet.

When the rumors began to circulate about Jon and his young companion, I was heartsick. When everything started to hit the fan and an "announcement" was to be made on Monday, I still held out hope that the two of you were going to announce a reconciliation and not a divorce. Stupid me. And now I'm really angry at both of you.

Kate, you honestly expect us to believe that the show had nothing to do with your marriage falling apart? Maybe you should sit down with the last 5 years of footage you now have and watch from the beginning. Very. Carefully. Now rewind it and watch it again. See what all of America means? Yeah.

You two were just a couple of Average Folks before this media madness. You had fertility problems, you suffered heartache and longing, you found joy in the twins, you worked hard, you struggled to make ends meet, you wanted 'just one more baby', you found out you were having 6 and you trusted God to take care of the details as you exercised your faith in accepting and rising to the challenge both physically, emotionally, and spiritually. But the two of you really loved each other. You complement each other. You tried to do right by all those little ones and build a life. And you were broke.

Believe me, I get that part.

Here comes TLC wanting to feature your unique family, and it was a hit! And the rest is history, so to speak, at least as far as the money was concerned. Freebies galore (which by the way I do not begrudge you one bit) and doors opened to you in every direction. Suddenly your family is afforded privileges that most of us could only dream about (and frankly some of those dreams are nightmares when considering you tote along 8 little children for all that fun!) But you do it, and you do it thoroughly, I'll give you that. But you've both changed. And the show has everything to do with that.

That's how it works, guys. Money and fame change things. Don't you read the tabloids? Well, maybe you don't now--that would most likely be humiliating for the two of you, but you know what I mean. It's the classic Hollywood Syndrome: A nobody gets a little popular, then a lot popular and suddenly that nobody has money and attention, and plastic surgery and personal trainers, and personal shoppers, and young cute 'fans' of the opposite sex, and voila! A broken marriage and a splintered family. Hang in there and drug abuse and eating disorders may be just around the corner.

Jon, you're acting stupid. Some young teacher? Really? Like you didn't think you'd be followed and photographed? The late nights and the boozing it up is ridiculous, and not your best self. Okay, I get it. Kate is a lot to handle, and you need to get a teensy bit more of a backbone. But still, buddy, you're the one who picked her and made vows to her not once, but twice. And I feel for you about the whole being tied-down thing, being thrust into fatherhood-gone-wild while still in your 20's. Growing up fast. Losing job after job and struggling with feelings of failure and inadequacy. You men have that natural tendency to run. Now you're sporting the tattoos and hair plugs and that tan, and thinking you may have another shot at youth. Well, let me tell you, your other shot at youth is in the lives of those 8 children who call you 'Daddy'.

And Kate, c'mon. Drop the hard exterior. You can still be competent and in-control as far as your mothering and housekeeping duties go, but also maintain a soft neediness for your husband. You can't keep putting him down on national television, even as a joke, and then act shocked when he goes looking to be needed elsewhere. We see you all tan and fit. I saw the tabloid photos of you spanking Leah, and I thought, (not my first thought, but that's a different post) "Wow! Look at how buff her arms are!" That takes some time. Some makeover time, which I have a feeling you're heavy into these days. The hair, the makeup, all those stylish clothes. We really liked you when you were sweatpant and t-shirting it, letting Jon take you shopping. You're losing sight of things, under all that glamour.

So, now you're splitting up. "In the best interest of the children". And now you want us all to think you're so noble by claiming that the new $1.1 million dollar home is the children's and that you both will take turns living there when you share visitation. Yeah. That should work out real swell. You're both delusional. And Kate, "the show must go on?" I can't believe you said that! Girl, you just gave America a wide-open view into your soul with that line. I thought it was about the kids and not the money?

Bravo to TLC for halting the show. Frankly, the two of you should have set aside the dollar signs and made that call yourselves. For the sake of the children. Yes, your children want you to stop fighting. So stop fighting. That's different than 'get a divorce'. You two have been through so much. I don't even pretend to understand. But here's what I do understand. Betrayal. Adultery. I get those two things loud and clear. You can come back from those. In private. For the sake of your children. With all the history that the two of you have, even despite the put-downs and frustration, I know the two of you love each other too, and you've both become selfish since stardom knocked down your door. You should both be in full-swing soldier mode, hunkering down, batting down the hatches, and gathering your little army close in love. Just admit that you've gone a little crazy. Nobody really blames you for that. It's understandable, though regrettable, but you can turn this whole ship around at any time.

I've read your book. You give God all kinds of credit for seeing you safely through the years of infertility and that difficult pregnancy. You claim to honor God and even more, to trust in Him. You couldn't provide for your family, and you trusted in Him. Look at what He gave you! Look at how He's cared for you! And look at what you've done with your end of the bargain. All of life is a test. Don't blow it. God has given you a rare opportunity to show a fractured-family world a better way. If your focus is truly on your family, then focus on your family. America doesn't need any more breaking up. Crap happens. So can repentance. And forgiveness.

I'm just really disappointed with the both of you. Your children deserve much better. It isn't the big huge house or the trips that make them happy. It's your family, and if you take that away, no amount of anything else, whatever it is, will fill that void. I know what I'm talking about. I'm even kind of hypocritical saying all of this right now, but I've trained myself to see what's worth saving, and you guys are worth saving. Coming through this you could really emerge better than ever. If you wanted to. If you'd both put down your cell phones, sunglasses, and divorce papers long enough to try. In private.

I understand the pursuit of happiness.

You're pursuing it in the wrong direction.

Just in case you wondered how I was feeling.


Rachel Sue said...

Yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes. Honestly, I loved the show back at the beginning when you could see that Kate was doing everything in her power to keep it together. Even if that included getting upset at her husband (who hasn't been there?)
But then things started getting prettier and trendier (is that a word?) and it just wasn't as fun any more. The amount of laughter went down dramatically and so did my interest.

I've always been on Kate's side of things. I've always known what it's been like to feel what she is feeling. The frustration, the fatigue. She's just more vocal about it. And I agree with you. They complemented each other. They dealt with things in their own way, but they dealt with them. That is until Jon decided he needed to stand up for himself by having an affair.

And then I was done. And I mourn for those children. Maybe the lack of cameras in their house will force Jon and Kate to actually look at their lives through their own eyes, rather than through the brand new, plasma television screen.

* said...

You wrote this well & with heart.
However..."Kate & Jon + 8" is a reason why I don't watch TV. At all. I think it's a sad sham.

Since "reality TV" became hip, people like Kate & her husband have been handing over their privacy & their lives for their 5 minutes of fame. It's sick. I think Kate's 5 minutes of fame are up.

Jennifer said...

You said what most of America is thinking, and better than most of us could have said it. If only they could see the results of their decision 5 or 10 years down the road. I don't know if they still actually read their emails and letters, but you should seriously send this to them anyway.

Annette Lyon said...

I've never seen the show, but it's impossible to not be aware of it--and everything you said is spot on.

Hannah said...


Luisa Perkins said...

Well, thank you! Now I understand what all of the fuss is about.

Jennifer said...

I really wish they could read this.....AND get it!!! It's such a sad thing. Loved your other two blogs about Conor and the zoo. Very cute :)

templework said...

You hit the nail on the head!

Thank you for taking the time to say it - may it help anyone who needs to wake up and smell the proverbial coffee!

ALL marriages hit 'bumps' in the road - that's when you find out if you have the faith to really 'walk the walk'!!!

Heidi said...

I so agree that this couple have it all backwards. they think the kids NEED a big house and lots of money and opportunities--what they need is their mom and dad together under one roof. It's very very sad when people listen to the siren call of fame and fortune.

Wonder Woman said...

Ditto. Ditto ditto. To everything. If I were her, I'd quit the show and save mymarriage. I know it's their bread and butter now, but STILL.

And I am SO sick of seeing them at the supermarket. And Jon with his earrings. COME ON.

Abby said...

I totally agree with this entire post. My heart broke when the rumors started spreading..and my heart broke even more (and I cried) when they announced they were divorcing. :(

No one said marriage was fact, everyone will tell you otherwise. You have your ups and downs and if you abandon your marriage at your low, you'll never see the high again. After it's been bad (and sometimes it's bad for a long time)'s *really* good and oh so worth the fight. I was really hoping to see that they would stick it out and fight for what's important..but they chose the other path.

amber Watt said...

Oh my gosh! Exactly what I was thinking. Fame and fortune change people. I'm so thankful to be ordinary.


Josi said...

I admire Jon for finally standing up for himself, but all too often people take it for so long that when they finally stand up, they hit their head on the ceiling. I think they are both good people who love their kids but got lost as they pursued this. I think Jon gave up too much of himself for too long and the fear of being invisable made him overeact. I think Kate felt like she had it made--never a healthy persepective. I just think it's sad, sad.
I didn't know TLC had halted the show, but I'm glad. i watched the divorce episode and officially decided I was done. They weren't a family working hard anymore, just two individuals pursuing their own distorted happiness--without their children's best interest in mind, no matter how much they wanted to posture otherwise.