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Jon & Kate: I hate to say it, but I relate

Jonkate It was not my intention to watch THE BIG ANNOUNCEMENT on "Jon & Kate Plus 8" tonight. It was not my intention to watch it at all this season. Many, many episodes ago, Kate's germophobia and Jon's passivity wore me down.

Before the weariness set in, I did watch the show. When Lil E and I lived with my parents, we either watched or heard each episode detailed by my mother, who is delighted by all reality TV that involves a) small children, b) fashion, c) island challenges, and 4) food. Lil E and my mother were equally squealy to see kids Lil E's age times six, with two older, bossy girls corralling them through the house. When Lil E and I moved into our own place, we'd sometimes glory in the fact that we had our own cable and we watched old episodes while unpacking boxes and arranging pillows on the floor until we got furniture a few months later.

It all seemed innocent enough then, barring a yelly mommy with bad hair and a doh-dee-doh-dee-doh daddy and the tension of bringing so many children out of womb at one time. I no longer had the time or energy or emotional reserve to commit to any of the many television shows I formerly watched. And so there they were every once in a while, Jon and Kate and all their maniacal outings with too many children.

In the past few months, I've paid some attention to their lives off-screen. How could you not? I've oscillated in my sympathies, first rolling at my eyes at the all too familiar cheating husband and then watching in horror at the footage of Kate denying her daughter water while she sipped from a bottle herself. I felt for her, for them, but I was done. I didn't need to watch more.

So I am not sure how or why I ended up tuning in to the BIG ANNOUNCEMENT episode tonight. But I clicked on it and never looked away.

What I saw, what I heard saddened me more deeply than I anticipated. It saddened me because the words they each said -- about choosing to separate, about trying to find happiness, about hoping for friendship, about having absolutely no relatioship left with the person they are married to -- sounded so damn familiar. Except for the bit about striving for friendship (no thanks), it could have been a script out of my own divorce.

I don't feel sorry for Jon because I don't understand how a person can choose such a damaging, unfair, disrespectful way to leave a family, all in the name of finding himself. I do feel for Kate, not as the cringe-worthy mother but as wife on the end of all that other crap, and only because I understand how scary and sad it is to face the end of a love affair and the beginning of being the official primary parent.

Of course, I feel for the kids. Oh, those kids. But that's not what surprised me. It surprised me that I ached in relating to the parents.

Sure, they have cameras and access and money now. One day, the show will be cancelled and the parents will be left with split holidays and kids trying to play Jon against Kate. One day, the kids will be awkward teens and taller and louder than their mother's yelling and overhear the dad complaining about child support or never really completely escaping Kate's control. I mean, unless by luck or the grace of God, something goes differently for that family than too many others.

I am not Kate Gosselin and I am the mother of one child. But I have certainly had my yelly mommy moments, had horrible hair (and skin), acted out and been a bitch out of a need to be right or ahead or in control. That said, I also did my very best to get through my divorce. It wasn't always pretty.And I certainly am glad it wasn't all captured on camera or splashed across magazines. That was (and is) their choice, but divorce doesn't care if you are famous or not. It brings the bullshit no matter who you are or how much money or how many kids you have.

But maybe, they really will find happiness outside of their marriage, the family that was, possibly even the show. I was as full of pain and anger and fear that I imagine Kate is right now, and I have found more happiness than I ever dreamed. Than I ever dreamed when I first filed for divorce, and even long before I realized my marriage was over.

Not all divorcing or divorced people are the same. This I know. But I can't deny the similarities that I saw and heard tonight. I can't watch Jon & Kate anymore, but I also can't pretend that there's not some reality behind that reality TV.

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Reader Comments (5)

I've only seen one episode of the show. I'm sorry for the end of their marriage, but to have their family unraveling filmed and broadcast into millions of homes makes me sick to think about. No amount of money is worth that.

Now off to read about your new found happiness....
i have never been in this situation nut there is one thing i know from breakups in my life. if your relationship is ending the best thing to do is put on the big boy pants and talk with you s.i. about it. you don't go around cheating and get cought. he is just a wussy!

June 22, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterrachel
I don't think either of them are angels, but I do believe the stories that Kate is the one who ended the marriage. Her own brother says that she went to Jon over six months ago and told him the marriage was over. He said that she told Jon he could have girlfriends and do what he wanted as long as he showed up for filming. Jon apparently told this to his BIL because he was blindsided and suspected Kate of having an affair with her bodyguard. At the end of the previous season, Jon said on camera that he didn't want to do the show anymore. I suspect that he got "caught" to torpedo the show. It's too bad he didn't consider how the fallout would affect his children.

Bottom line - she's a witch, he's a wimp, and those poor, poor children have lost their childhood to their parents' greed.
June 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterElena
I just came across you blog from Ms. Single Mama link . . .I completely agreee with you~ I watched it last night and I was SOO sad ~much more then I had anticipated:(

I lost all respect for Jon~ how about the part when he said he was'excited'.I didn't like Kate when I first started watching last year because I thought she was so controlling, then I realized with 8 kids you HAVE to be! I am kind of crazy w/ just raising one one my own!?

June 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterStacey
I completely agree with you...I felt the similarities to my own situation as well and it was just so sad to see it all play out in such a familiar way. A man justifying abandoning his family because he's "just not in-love the same way" anymore and that it's "not about the other woman." Then going out and partying like a 20 year old as if he wasn't affecting every single person in his family. It doesn't matter how bitchy a woman is, Kate doesn't deserve for him to end their relationship like he was breaking up with his girlfriend. It reminds me SO much of the immature boy that left me for his own girlfriend and the chance to party and escape the reality of marriage and kids. Hello. That is what marriage and kids are...responsibility, hard work, commitment, and unconditional love. Sorry it's not just one big party with lots of sleeping in.
June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterStar

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