Fantastic Four

America likes excess…big cars, big homes, big families. Well…that is, as long as long as the big family has their own TLC show. In all actuality, the average size of the American family is declining right alongside the housing market. In fact, the latest census data reveals that the average number of children per family household in the United States is less than one: it’s .94!
I know, I know, judging from the recent wave of multiples shows, one might assume the opposite. The doomed “Jon & Kate plus 8”, “19 & Counting” (or is it 20 & Counting? I lost track), Table for 12, and the series of bizarre Octo-Mom interviews lead the casual observer to conclude that large families are the next big thing. And after strolling through the tabloid aisle in the grocery store, I could see how one would come away with the impression that families with multiples are living large (sorry, I couldn’t resist!) Television shows, marketing deals, donations and college scholarships  are just a few of the perks showered upon America’s high-profile multiples.
I have to admit, I enjoy following stories of multiples.  And I also admit it’s partly due to the fact that I get pleasure out of watching Kate sweat through an airplane flight with six tantrum-ing toddlers, knowing that when my children wake in the morning, I will have only four–not eight–hungry little mouths to feed.
I’ve been mutiple watching for years… In November  1997, the year my oldest was born,  the  McCaughey septuplets graced the cover of nearly every popular magazine & tabloid. In 2006, soon after my 3rd boy joined our family, the Gosselin sextuplets became a media sensation. As I comfortably cradled my singletons during these times, I read with fascination about the trials & triumphs of raising multiples, and secretly felt relieved that I only had one crying infant to contend with. 
 In 2002-the year my middle son debuted-the local news ran the story of a nearby family whose multiple births were not the result of fertility drugs, but rather a 1 in 11 million chance miracle. Ornsee Khamsa, a 22-year-old married mother,  welcomed four daughters into the world, with little fanfare from the national media. On the girls’ 7th birthday, a local media outlet reported that Khamsa has since celebrated many personal successes. The Laotian immigrant did not have a high school diploma, or a driver’s license when the girls were born.  She has since obtained both, and  is now  a certified nurses assistant.
Today, I got to witness another set of accomplishments from the Khamsa girls. My middle son was being honored at an academic award ceremony on the first day of school. He, and many of his other classmates scored exceptionally well on California’s standardized STAR test, and were to receive medals in honor of their achievements. As the names of his classmates were called, I watched in awe while all four Khamsa girls (who recently began attending our neighborhood school) bent their heads as their teachers draped metals around their necks. Against all odds, these beautiful sisters are thriving…and I could not help but feel proud as they smiled at the auditoriums applause. I searched the audience, wanting to get a glimpse of their amazing young mother. As the class took their seats, I found myself wiping my eyes–and in that moment I think the tears were not for the children, but for the courageous, hard-working mother who got them there…

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