Wednesday, August 4, 2010

When I Grow Up I Want to be Michelle Duggar

I just finished watching Season 2 of the TLC show "18 Kids and Counting" (and it's actually 19 now, incidentally.) I can't get enough of the Duggar family. I love them! I wish I could move into their house and just watch them at work because I am that impressed and inspired. That is how a family can be. And I'm not just talking about sheer numbers. Though I'll get to that.

The love, commitment, and partnership between Michelle and Jim Bob is almost other-worldly. They really are one in their marriage, and one with God, and I think it is precisely because of that that so many other aspects of their family have been blessed. Michelle adores her husband. She will never say anything unkind or critical about him, even to tease---like when the cameraman tried to get her to tease Jim Bob about his fanatical use of hairspray. It was so cute, she just couldn't say a negative thing! And to Jim Bob, Michelle is his queen. He loves and defends her so tenderly. She has given him a kingdom and has dedicated her life to nurturing and raising all those children up to God by his side. Each has a separate and defined God-given role: Jim Bob to provide (and that he has, to be sure--he's one hard working man), and Michelle to nurture and raise the children (talk about magnifying a calling!), but each also completely supports the other. Jim Bob is the spiritual leader in the home, teaching the children from the Bible and working side by side with each of them as they develop servant's hearts.

And the children? Sure, I've read all the critical forums online. But I find their children refreshing. All of them. They're beautiful, for one thing. Well-groomed, nicely dressed. Well-mannered, well-spoken, and kind. So kind to each other! And I don't think it's just because they're on camera, because I watched "Jon and Kate Plus 8" too and there was plenty of bickering going on, between adults and children. I think adults can fake things for a camera. I don't think kids are quite that able. But these children have been so well raised and so well taught. Their lives center around the family: working together, learning together, praying together, and helping one another. It sounds old-fashioned and impossibly difficult to replicate in this day and age, and yet somehow, the Duggars have done it.

I love their house. It's so wonderfully huge and organized and homey and beautiful and filled to the brim. I love that they built it themselves, paid for it with cash, and work to maintain it together. I love their food pantry (oh, to dream!) and their restaurant-style kitchen (they have a "regular" kitchen too) and their laundry center, and the dorm-style rooms for the girls and boys.

I love that the children are homeschooled. I love that they all play two instruments (and well, too). I love that they each have a "buddy" and that their little buddies look up to them. I love that it takes all of them working together for such a family to shine--Michelle has done a marvelous job training her daughters to mother (and cook and clean and sew . . .) I love that Michelle and Jim Bob praise their children in public and correct them in private. I love that Michelle decided long ago not to raise her voice. I love how sweetly she talks to each of her children, and while she certainly does not have enough time to lavish hours on each one individually, her love is so tangible that those children most certainly feel constantly bathed in it.

I love that they teach their children Christian values. I love that they have made decisions about media, modesty, and morality that are certainly not easy in today's world, but are most definitely possible--and even ideal--and that they go out of their way to find options that are edifying and uplifting to support their family values. I love that the boys are taught to honor and revere women, and to develop self-discipline as part of manhood. I love that the girls delight in femininity.

And yes, I love that they keep having babies. There, I said it.

That family is a well-oiled, Godly machine, and I think everyone who criticizes their family size should just shut up and take a look at their own. Because it isn't size that matters, it's everything else, and I think they've just about perfected everything else and any child born into that amount of love is one lucky little child. Do I think every family should have 19 children? Of course not, silly. But I love that this family did! And I think that the Biblical values that they live their lives by are true. Those children are truly jewels in the crowns of Jim Bob and Michelle's lives. Nothing about the Duggars is irresponsible, if you ask me. And Michelle is healthier and has more energy than any woman I know, and she is a shining example to me of what motherhood can be and how much power can be bestowed upon a woman who puts God first in her life and seeks His will in her family. I think she's beautiful, and I think she's beautiful because she spends her time and her energies in what really matters.

I secretly wish I could live a life like that, welcoming baby after baby, loving on my little ones, delighting in my bigger ones, feeling cherished and safe with my husband. Building a legacy.

Except, of course, I would have a garden.


Wonder Woman said...

That family is truly amazing. I was watching some of the show last night and had thoughts similar to yours. My husband made a snide comment about the mom and dad just being distant authority figures in their family, and I jumped to defend them. Those parents are so involved in their children's life -- true teachers and examples. In reference to Jon and Kate plus 8, I said that the Duggars would never get divorced. My husband said, "We'll never get divorced, either." I agreed and told him we never would. But I told him that he and I were more likely to get divorced than the Duggars. They are so head-over-heels in love it's incredible.

Hannah said...

A huge Amen to that Jenna!

Mike and I were actually watching their show last night and we both turned to each other at the same time and said "I love this family!" I told him I wanted to be them. It would be so amazing to follow Michelle around for a day. She's just so sweet. I want to be that sweet and calm and peaceful.

It also truly bothers me when people make a big deal about how many kids they have. They are raising responsible children and the world could sure use more of those!

We're so alike Jenna, it's funny!

Andrea said...

I recently read their book and was amazed that they buy everything with cash. It did make me want to have tons of kids. Although I do feel bad that the older kids basically take care of the younger ones. I also am amazed her body doesn't need more rest between pregnancies. I couldn't do it, but they make it all look so wonderful.
Although I do cringe at the "we'll have as many babies as God wants". Sometimes we need to use our brains too. And what about all those that really want babies and can't have them.. is that God's will? And all the babies born in horrible situations- is that his will too?
I do however wish we all could have loving, good, kind families like that.

Abby said...

They're already talking about baby #20 if it were to happen..even with all of the complications that baby #19 had. While I agree with Andrea about the older kids (girls, mostly) being the ones to take care of the little ones (and cook..and clean..), I do still admire the well-oiled machine that is their family. Doing what they do is NOT easy..especially in this day. You're right. So props to them and I say if they can keep on going with this thing without interfering with Michelle's (or the babies') health..good for them (afterall, just what do you do with yourself after you've been pregnant and taking care of babies for SO many years? I think that thought would be scary for me)!
I don't think it's the number that matters..I think it's what you DO with that number. Making babies is fairly easy. Raising them properly is the hard part. They weren't always that strict (as I'm sure you know from reading their books and watching their show) it was laying the foundation that, I'm sure, was hard at first. But once you get the older group going..the smaller ones tend to just fall in line.

I totally watch the show. Totally. I love the family structure and I love the thought of having so many kids (I'm too selfish for that many, though)..and I adore the way Jim Bob and Michelle are towards one another. Basically, I agree with most of the things you said.


Emily said...

Hey, first time here but I just have to leave my two cents...

People may criticize the size of their family but I just remember what my husbands aunt always said when people would criticize her for having a "small" family.

"I'd rather be a good mom to 3 children than a bad mom for 4."

I think each woman knows her limits and Michelle Duggar knows hers. She can still adequately nurture all those children and they can physically provide for them too. By all means, let them have children!

Nicole said...

I wish I could be a fly on the wall in their home. They are absolutely amazing, I wish my home could be more like theirs. I just love that show, it makes me want to be a better mother and wife. I think those children are so blessed to be born into such a wonderful home.

Crayl said...

I totally agree with you Jenna, and Emily too actually.
This society is so weird, if that family is strong, and well fed, and not on public assistance, then what difference does it make to anyone else? When my friend announced baby number #5 people were outright rude, but her kids are all well taken care of and loved...your family size is between you, your spouse and God.
And I would have a garden too, and can my own stuff like crazy. Imagine how wonderful an orchard and a garden would be for them...but perhaps they black thumbs! We don't know:)

Emily in Wonderland said...

I love their family too. And I wish I could be apart of it. Everytime I have a bad day or feel hopeless... which has been alot lately... I wish I could just curl up on their couch because I can't help but feel they would help raise me up. TO be part of a family like that would be very, very special. I envy them.

Jenny Citino said...

Well said! So many people criticize them for their size but you summed it up perfectly. And yes, I would love to be able to just sit in their home to see firsthand how they make it work ... it's so refreshing to see a happy family making it work and praising God as well!

Kim said...

I have always admired Michelle Duggar's quiet voice and sweet spirit. You can't help but like her! (ok maybe you *can* but I can't. I like her!)

As for older kids helping (a lot) to care for the younger ones, it really is just a natural thing when you have more than one child. Why not train your children to do it *well*? After all the likelihood that your children will grow up to be parents themselves, or at the very least, husbands and wives to someone, then you should at least, teach them the way to do it! I see way way too many kids verging on adulthood who will not be able to keep a home or even grocery shop for themselves. Good on the Duggars for teaching their kids.

Besides you can't have that many kids and NOT train them well! Can you imagine the chaos?!

Jeannine said...

You took the words right out of my mouth! We love that family, and Michelle Duggar is my role model. A difficult situation came up yesterday, and I truly thought, "How would Michelle Duggar respond?" and you know what? I responded that way and prevented worsening an already challenging situation. And my children watch the DVDs so often, and I love the positive influence it has on them. It accustoms them to the kindness, faith, and hard work of a great family rather than the lowest-common-denominator junk of other shows. Glad I happened upon your post!