Editor’s Note: This blog entry was written in August of 2010. So, if you find it through a Google search, read it and lose your shit, know that you are losing your shit over something that is old news. -MO2
I can’t promise this will be my last “I hate Kelle Hampton” or “Kelle Hampton is so annoying” post, but I will try.
Lately, my efforts to train Baby V to love television have been paying off thanks to NickJr. Her first words some mornings are “Yo Gabba,” and I am not making that up. She is 15 months old and she picks up the remote, points it at the TV and says, “Gabba! Yo Gabba! Gabba Gaaaaaaaaah.” It’s both cute and it scares me. Other than “Yo Gabba Gabba!,” I love NickJr. because there are no commercials! I can put my kid in front of the TV for years to come and not have her beg me for the sugary cereal she will assure me is “part of this nutritious breakfast.” There are, however, little educational clips and crafting ideas. Over the past weekend, a segment on making Dora the Explora cupcakes ran over and over and over and over. At one point, Odie was in the room when I was watching it and he wondered out loud, “What kind of crazy bitch DOES THAT?”
Kelle Hampton does that. She just wrote a blog post about it (with a totally avoidable usage error in the title of the post).
In true Hampton style, she put on her dead grandmother’s apron, took a million photographs of herself with perfect lip gloss, and then wrote about how it was MAGIC to make cupcakes with her “little sprite,” but how woefully awful the cupcakes turned out (cue the: “I’m pretty and helpless, now rescue me” pout). The self-deprecating comments about her failure to make Dora cupcakes are accompanied by pictures of her PERFECT cupcakes (cue 700 comments telling her how perfect her cupcakes are).
And I think that between my friend Mrs. K-6 and me* (read her blog at http://mrsk6.wordpress.com), we managed to unearth some reasons why we don’t care for this woman’s blog. We’re not in complete agreement on it, though.
I mentioned in my post about couples counseling, “Analyze THIS, bitches,” that I’m reading a book with my husband about getting the love you want. The book taught me about my “disowned self” as well as projection. I think that there are things about Ms. Hampton that I also hate about myself. I’m insecure and need outside validation. I’m vain. I think my kid is the most gorgeous kid in the world, and I torture other people with pictures of her. But instead of hating me, I’m projecting those qualities onto her and hating her. So, my bad. Although I certainly am not talking about my homemade crafting qualities. Because those aren’t hidden. They don’t exist.
Something has always bugged me about her famous blog post describing Nella Cordelia’s birth and Kelle’s response to it. Like a splinter in my brain, I couldn’t stop worrying it. I think I’ve got it now. My friend Mrs. K-6 was disconcerted that “she didn’t love her baby!” When I first read the story, that didn’t bug me so much. In fact, I think that not so deep down in places I don’t generally talk about at parties, I could identify with that feeling. Not so much not loving the baby, but of not wanting to have a baby with Down Syndrome SO much, that the overwhelming emotion was grief.
Nella Cordelia’s birth story reads like a heart-warming tale of a loving family that welcomes a special needs child into its hearts and home. Or DOES it? To me, it reads more like a spoiled, selfish woman who gets a “less than perfect” child and is devastated because of the blow to HER EGO. Most of us have a birth plan that includes details of how we do or don’t want to be medicated and if we want to breastfeed immediately after. Kelle’s birth plan included like thirty-five of her closest girlfriends and hand-decorated champagne glasses. She prepared perfect little favors for guests to take home from the hospital! She wore a goddamn TIARA for her birth, people. A crown. She thinks continuously about the adorable outfit she was wearing when she went into labor and how she can’t even look at it because it hurts too bad to remember her perfect life before this tragedy. She admits that she wants to put that cute little ruffled skirt on and take her perfect, healthy daughter and LEAVE HER DISABLED CHILD. Run away, she writes. Go back in time to when she was not the mother of a special needs baby. And she invites the reader to reassure her with every post that she is a great mother (or “a wonderful mama to her ‘littles'” as they usually phrase it). She writes the birth story as a victim. The photos underscore this. Look how pretty I am and look what happened to me! You can almost hear her moaning, “Why did this terrible thing happen to MEEEEEEEEE?”
She admits that the first night with baby Nella she cried and entertained dark horrible thoughts. I wonder what they were. With all of the honesty and self-disclosure, why shroud this in mystery?
In the blog posts before and after this groundbreaking one, she takes a million photographs of herself and her kids and thousands of people assure her every week that her daughter with DS is BEAUTIFUL. They all agree to collude with her and pretend that nothing is wrong! We will all go along with you and this charade that life is perfect. That there is “magic” in that extra chromosome. She is very lucky because Nella does not have the problems many children with DS have. No heart defects or breathing problems or seizures or reflux, at least not that she mentions.
I get that her blog is about “enjoying the small things” and it’s a philosophy of life that chooses to look for the good. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with “accentuate the positive.” What bugs me is all of the fawning admiration. Her phony self-deprecation that is begging for reassurance of her goodness. She needs to rename her blog, “VALIDATE ME!” And the comments really reinforce this underlying theme that all that really matters is what people LOOK like. Nella is so beautiful. Lainey is so beautiful. Kelle is so beautiful. And that makes everything okay.
Sour grapes, you’re probably thinking. Could be. Probably is. I repeat my sentiment, published in a previous post, that I wouldn’t want to change places with her. It makes me sound pretty shallow that I wouldn’t want a less than perfect child. But nobody does. Kelle Hampton didn’t either. Now that I am pregnant at 38 for the second time, I am acutely conscious of what is possible for me. Nobody wishes for that, but I would like to believe that I would not feel sorry for myself if it happened to me and that I would quickly learn to count my blessings instead of enumerating my complaints. Or, like Kelle, count my money. Her child’s disability made her famous. She had a big following before Nella, but the birth story propelled her into the stratosphere. She was interviewed on CNN.com! She would not be talking to Oprah’s people or publishing a book if Nella Cordelia had been born with the usual number of chromosomes.
Remember the scene in “Tootsie” where Dustin Hoffman’s character Michael and his roommate Jeff (played by Bill Murray) are having a party? They keep cutting to Jeff, who is an out of work playwright, talking to a group of sycophants. He keeps saying hilarious random things like, “I want a theater that’s only open when it rains.” Having thousands of people fawning over me would be inauthentic, because they can only ever know my self-created persona. My favorite line in the above mentioned scene from “Tootsie” is when Jeff tells his audience that he doesn’t want people to tell him they love his plays. He says he wants people to come up to him like a week later and say, “I saw your play, man. What happened?” I’m sure it is amazingly fulfilling to have hundreds of women tell you that you are AN AMAZING MAMA and your children are SO BEAUTIFUL and that you are a terrific writer who inspires them. That your point of view makes them want to change their lives (and also to leave the addresses of THEIR blogs in your comments so that others may conveniently click on them). None of it is REAL, though. It’s all carefully crafted to look a certain way. It’s a work of fiction.
I want a blog that’s only open when it rains.
*the correct pronoun here is “me.” Most people would want to write “myself.” Myself is a reflexive or an intensive pronoun. It is used incorrectly so often on television that it has become a pet peeve of mine. I may even start a fan page on Facebook: People who hate the egregious misuse of “myself.” Here are the two acceptable ways to use it: I’m really digging myself a hole by creating enemies out of Kelle Hampton’s legion of fans (reflexive). And: I, myself, will be the first to admit that envy is one of my primary motivations (intensive).