Yikes! “That’s a cringeworthy moment.… I’m not even proud of it,” said Kate Gosselin during the opening sequence of TLC’S Kate Plus 8 season finale. The mom, 40, watched clips of her younger self disciplining and interacting with her eight kids, which was the theme for the Tuesday, January 26, episode, titled “Kate’s Advice.”
“This hour is all about the older, wiser me, giving advice to the younger, less-experienced me,” she explained as clip 1 began to roll.
Bummed and Gummed
Clip 1 showed 3-year-old Joel putting gum in his sock as Kate shrieked. The frazzled mother had to search each child for the contraband treat from Aunt Jody as she wondered aloud why on earth their temporary caretaker would give gum to six toddlers.
“Poor baby Joel. I wish I could scoop him up right now and kiss his chubby little cheekers,” said a mortified present-day Kate. She then watched herself threaten to throw away Collin’s teddy bear because it had gum on it, and she admitted that she still gets asked if she really threw it away. (She assured the camera that she didn’t.)
Forever the Sickest Kiddies
Clip 2 opened with Joel throwing up all over himself and the other kids, prompting the current Kate to say, “Behind every vomit is a lot of laundry and a lot of fear.” Kate laid him down to sleep in the laundry room as she scrubbed vomit from an endless stream of sheets and clothes.
“If I could go back and do it all over again, I’d design a house with a sick room,” she sighed dramatically.
Clips 3 was in a similar vein, showing a young Aaden sprawled casually on the floor after soiling himself. Kate threw a dirty diaper at Jen, the original producer, in one of the show’s most infamous moments. “I was just preparing her for motherhood,” she explained. True enough, Jen now has two kids.
In clip 4, the audience is treated to the infamous chocolate painting episode. Kate taught the kids that they had to ask each other before painting one another, then let them cover themselves with pudding. Aaden got painted by Leah while Collin just went ahead and bathed in the pudding.
“I know I overreacted to more messes than I would now,” conceded Kate as she watched her younger self tell a producer she hadn’t overreacted to the mess at all. Modern Kate knows that “real mess” is emotional mess, distress and negativity.
For clip 5, the family visited New York City. Kate was frantically trying to get a photo of her kids at the Statue of Liberty, which she sadly mentioned she never got. She lamented that her family often “becomes the tourist attraction” when they stop to take pics at famous destinations, so they rush through their photo opportunities.
“It is a claustrophobic feeling,” Kate said as she watched footage of her children being photographed by strangers while they tried to pick souvenirs at a gift shop in New York.
In clip 6, however, Kate was the one snapping pics as she sent the kids off to their first day of school. She had a wistful look on her face as she watched all eight of her kids don backpacks for the first time.
Queen of Mean
Clip 7 found Kate in Seattle preparing to jump from the Sky Walk, which is supposedly a fun thing for tourists to do. It sure didn’t look fun, though, judging by the way Kate was crying! She was nervous and yelling at the guides, who were yelling back at her in a moment that is still brought up by fans today. The yelling continued into clip 8 as Kate demanded to know who broke a knob from a door. When the little girls wouldn’t cop to doing it, she rounded up the boys, who insisted they had no part in it either. In the confessional, Kate chuckled, saying that none of the kids will ever take the blame for mistakes all these years later.
“How do you figure things out?” asked the producers.
“I rarely do,” she said.
Clip 9 showed Kate at her angriest, though: Day three of an RV trip ended with the family’s camper breaking down. The microwave broke, the fridge broke and the television stopped playing DVDs. The family dissolved into arguments as sludge poured from the engine of the RV, and Kate ushered the children into SUVs.
“This was us at our worst ever,” Kate admitted as she watched herself fight with her best friend, Jamie, during what was supposed to be a perfect family getaway.
All’s Fair in Love and Easter Baskets
The kids stuffed Easter baskets with eggs in clip 10. Collin had won every year prior, prompting Kate to make new rules in an effort to make the game more fair. Still, she claimed, nothing is ever fair in a family with eight kids.
Like Taking Dessert From a Baby
When the kids started crying over not being able to have dessert as a result of failing to eat their healthy foods, it was clear Easter was over, and clip 11 had begun. While Kate admitted that it looked harsh, she was proud to report that it did work, and her kids are healthy eaters to this day. She admitted that she keeps a “cheat sheet” taped to the inside of her cabinet to help her remember which kid likes which foods and condiments.
The next four clips were all about Kate coming into her own as a single mom managing eight kids and 26 acres of property by herself. Clip 12 showed Kate complaining as she uselessly tugged on a hose, trying to water her grass. “What am I muttering about?” she demanded of her younger self. As she watched herself take out her frustration on Aaden, modern Kate visibly grimaced. Clip 13 showed Kate outside, trying to assemble a tent that her kids were too afraid to get into because they didn’t trust her construction skills. Clip 14 showed the girls assembling an end table, and clip 15 was the recent scene of Mady spray-painting her new furniture, showing the progression of the family as a group of independent, self-sufficient builders and providers.
Back to Basics
The show concluded with clip 16: Kate preparing for a beach-theme birthday party for the little kids. As current Kate watched old Kate say she had no energy to cook, she declared, “That was a cop-out.” While she bemoaned getting older and losing energy, she beamed with pride as she noticed how much more self-sufficient and strong her kids have gotten as they’ve aged along with her. “Maybe that’s the balance,” she mused.
Kate wrapped the show by sharing how grateful she is for the opportunities Kate Plus 8 has afforded her large family. “I have to thank viewers and fans of our show because it took me a lot of years to connect that, but without viewers, our story would not have been as positive,” she said. “So thanks for sticking with us through all the mistakes you got to see me make.”
Perhaps the most touching part of a very emotional episode came when Kate said how happy she was to have been able to revisit the old scenes, as they reminded her how far her family had come and what it all meant. “I’m growing humans, and in the midst of parenting, we forget that. We’re growing the most amazing things you could ever grow, and it’s the thing that matters most.”
Kate Plus 8 airs on TLC on Tuesdays at 10 p.m. EST.