Catherine Connors is a mother, writer and recovering academic who traded the lecture hall for the playroom and discovered that university students and preschoolers have much the same attention span. She still dips her toes into academic waters by writing the occasional scholarly article about the place of motherhood in Western philosophy, but mostly now she changes diapers and wipes noses and indulges in long reflections on whether Yo Gabba Gabba is a harbinger of the decline of western civilization. Oh, and she blogs: in addition to Bad Mother blogging at BeliefNet, she is, among other things, the author of HerBadMother.com, Managing Editor of MamaPop, moderator of Her Bad Mother’s Basement, co-founder and co-editor of WeCovet, Contributing Editor at BlogHer, and (deep breath) founder of and contributor to Canada Moms Blog. And in her spare time… oh, wait. She doesn’t have spare time. But she’s okay with that.
So, yeah: Jon and Kate Gosselin. They’ve, like, got this TV show, right? About their life raising eleventeen kids? Wait – eight, is it? Whatever. I’ve never watched the show.
Which, I suppose, means that I shouldn’t really comment on the whole sideshow that is the show and their lives. Or is it their lives and the show? Does anybody really know where the show stops and their lives begin, or vice-versa? Does it matter?
From what I can gather, Kate’s what used to be called a difficult woman. That’s what all the gossip sites and blogs and tweets say, anyway. She is, by all accounts, a spiky-haired harridan who has brow-beat her husband into a sub-manly pulp that can barely get up off the couch. She yells and scolds and harps and needles. She’s controlling. She’s bossy. She’s an alpha-female of the very worst kind. She’s an alpha-female who lords her alpha-ness over her family – and on the TV stage, no less – and that is – regardless of what anyone thinks of alpha-females in general – bad. After all, there are kids involved. A marriage. It’s one thing for a woman to be that way – bossy, bull-headed, prone to yelling – in the boardroom or in the corridors of government or even – maybe – in the privacy of one’s own home, but not – NOT – in the privacy of one’s own home on television. Kate Gosselin is, in all of her screechy, harridan-like glory, a piece of work.
Or so I’ve heard. Like I said, I don’t watch the show, so I’m limited in my ability to speculate on the specifics of her character. Maybe she is a total bitch-harridan. Maybe she’s not. I’m not qualified to say. But I’m not – despite what the title of this post implies – really interested in what Kate Gosselin is or is not. What I am interested in is whether there’s something of Jon & Kate – well, Kate specifically – in my own household. And if there’s not, whether, perhaps, there should be. By which I don’t mean, is there or should there be a bitchy, harridan-like edge to my own maternal and spousal behavior, or do I or should harangue my husband (obviously not), but rather this: do I comport myself as a mother and as a spouse from a position of power – am I, to use the psychotherapeutic vernacular, empowered, powerful – or from a position of weakness? And if it’s the latter, shouldn’t I – maybe – change that? Could I – could any mother, any woman – learn something from Kate – or women like Kate – about being unafraid to be powerful? To take charge when someone is needed to take charge? To be the tough guy, the bad guy, when it’s called for (is it ever called for)? To just be the bitch, when the good of one’s family requires it? Or is that just a slippery, dangerous slope? (One that, if the gossipnets are to be believed, leads straight to divorce?)
Is Kate really so bad? Could we – could I – maybe take a few leads from Kate? Maybe dialed back a bit, but still? Might Kate have a few things to teach us about being unafraid to be strong?
I don’t know. I have some ideas, but still: I don’t really know. It’s something that I’m going to have to think about. Over the weekend, at least – during which time I plan to watch as much Jon & Kate as I can stomach. So, can I get back to you by, say, Monday?
In the meantime, if you have strong opinions one way or another – or even just mild, entirely undifficult opinions – I’d love to hear them.