Octomom Nadya Suleman and the Real Life Hunger Games


If you have been following the news on Nadya “Octomom” Suleman, the latest controversy regarding this single mother is accusations of her neglecting, mistreating, and providing poor living conditions for her children. Earlier this week, reports stated that the La Habra Police Department conducted an investigation of those claims; they did not find any signs of such accusations.

There has been significant media coverage on Suleman's financial instabilities and messy living conditions, including where she chooses to potty train her children (in the backyard) and the “graffiti” that is in her house. However, what the media has failed to focus on are the efforts that Suleman has done to care for her children. The public has failed to rally to her support during these tough times, choosing instead to stick to the sidelines, allow the mother-bashing to continue, and perhaps watch the drama unfold with a bit of glee like Hunger Games elitists.

Being a single mother to just one child is hard. Being a single mother to three children is even harder. Being a single mother to 14 children seems almost impossible. And yet, in the face of adversity, especially with hundreds of people criticizing her daily through death threats and phone calls, she continues to place her children first, saying, “I feel ashamed, but who cares how I feel? It's 100% about my children …. They deserve everything, they deserve the best.”

As many prominent figures, including President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and Vice President Joseph Biden, all agreed after the Rosens-Romney controversy, “there is no tougher job than being a mom.” In Suleman’s case, the media needs to emphasize the positive things she’s done for her children – even if they may not seem so positive at first glance. 

One criticism toward Suleman is that she decided to pose nude to earn money. In most people’s opinions, this is not the most ideal way to make an income; but when times are difficult, you have 15 mouths to feed, and you need to make some fast cash, it might be the best means to establish one’s livelihood and ensure that your family is provided for.

Suleman’s case of turning to a less than ideal way of making an income is not unique. In a story last year, a lawyer told MSNBC about her dilemma of having to turn to exotic dancing to pay off her school debts. Again, not the most ideal job to have, but something one has to do as a last resort to keep afloat.

In Suleman’s case, not everyone has the riches and ability to hire help, like Angelina Jolie and her six children. (And also, Suleman is not exactly posing “nude” – she looks like she could be in a mainstream Dove skincare commercial. But I digress…)

The other critique is Suleman accepting welfare. She has already noted that she feels ashamed about it, but it does not seem like most people are accepting her apologies or are telling her to feel otherwise. Well, they should. Pubic assistance is there for people who need it, after all. And in Suleman’s case, she has made clear that she does not want to rely on it, or “abuse the system,” and that she plans to get off of it “as soon as she can.” She’s already started work on various TV and film projects to get back on her feet again, showing a true effort of getting off of the welfare system.

The public has been bent on drama, waiting for the climatic day when her children are finally being taken away from her – and, using her word, that is just “sick.”

“Hundreds of people, random people, call [social services] on a daily basis, and it’s sick and sad to me. [It’s] unbelievably fascinating in regard to humanity, how many people are foaming at the mouth for my children to be taken away from me. The saddest part is 15 years from now, when they’re 18 and legal and in college, people will still be foaming at their mouth for them to be taken.’’

This sounds a bit too Hunger Games-esque, if you ask me – being in the audience and waiting for disasters to fall upon innocent human beings (plural, because it’s not just Suleman who would face hardships, but her children, too), while not helping out in any way and only perpetuating the disasters by refusing to challenge the criticism and bickering that takes place on the sidelines.

Instead of waiting for some sort of failure on her part, we should see her as a real life human being, making ends meet, doing her best, to provide for her family. And then we should do whatever is in our capacity to help her out, even if it is as small as posting a short comment online, challenging the tabloids that have criticized her so harshly.

So what if she has unfolded laundry around her house (I am sure most of us have been guilty of putting off folding our laundry), or if her children has drawn all over the walls of the home (that is what kids do)? Instead of ranting about the imperfections of her motherhood, we should commend the efforts she’s already made – and that as a result of those efforts, her children have a roof over their heads, descent clothes to wear, look well-fed and healthy, and apparently are able to read and spell, given the “graffiti” that’s found on their walls.