Octomom's kids are growing up fast

There are certain celebrities who are basically pop-culture meteors — they have a brief, very major moment in the spotlight, but, just as quickly, they inexplicably fade out of public consciousness. They're the names you hear and think, "Oh yeah, I remember them... What ever happened there?" Well, Octomom definitely fits that description. Eleven years ago, Natalie "Nadya" Suleman gave birth to octuplets, solidifying her short-lived, yet undeniable spot in pop-culture history. However, even though she got her 15 seconds of fame, Octomom's time in the spotlight wasn't all that pleasant. In fact, in a 2009 interview with Suleman, former NBC anchor Ann Curry described her as "the most vilified mother in America."

While the world was fascinated by her pregnancy (and her resemblance to Angelina Jolie), Suleman pretty much dropped off the radar in recent years — but not without a few scandals along the way. So let's take a look at what she's been up to this past decade (including moving past the "Octomom" label) and just how much her kids have grown up.

The Octomom's kids are big fans of 'family fun night'

In a 2018 profile in The New York Times, author Adam Popescu reflected on how Octomom's kids — Noah, Maliyah, Isaiah, Nariyah, Jonah, Makai, Josiah, and Jeremiah — have grown up. Popescu wrote, "The octuplets are small for their age, but they're polite, they cook, they're vegan, they read two books a month and do their homework without being prompted." The piece paints a picture of their simultaneously chaotic yet in-sync home life. "They're the only surviving eight octuplets in the history of mankind. I've raised them to be wide-awake," Suleman proudly told the paper.

The family spends plenty of quality time together, as seen on Instagram. In a post back in April 2017, Suleman shared a pic of the crew eating popcorn, explaining that the kids spend every Saturday night together and call it "family fun night." She rattled off some of their go-to activities: "laying board games (the little kids are attempting to teach me how to play chess), watching scary movies (The Shining is our favorite 🙈), or documentaries, and having educational and cognitively stimulating discussions." She noted that her older kids tend to hang with their friends instead and "cringe" at the family fun night tradition, although it's an undeniably sweet way for the large family to bond.

She blames the media for turning her into a 'caricature'

In an interview with The New York Times, Natalie Suleman explained that she played into the media's extreme image of her, but has since left it behind. "I was pretending to be a fake, a caricature... and I was doing it out of desperation and scarcity so I could provide for my family." She expressed a similar sentiment on Instagram in June 2019, claiming, "I only (shamefully) embraced the media made up 'octomom' out of DESPERATION to survive. By March 2013, I renounced and rejected 'celebrityhood' and FINALLY took my life back; the life that was hijacked by mainstream media."

Suleman reiterated this message on the first day of 2020, reminding her Instagram followers — especially any new followers — what she's all about. "2020 marks the seventh year since escaping the false life I was leading; forging on, building a better life for my family. I made a decision to repudiate all requests from tabloid type media (despite how lucrative the offer), as my goal is to progress, and publish my full true story," she said. "The powerful media indoctrinated fragmented pieces of false narrative into the public's minds, consequently creating a false identity from 2009-2013. Refrain from judging me solely based on the (struggling to survive) season you happened to walk in on." No matter what your opinion on her may be, she's right that harsh judgment of others can often be misplaced.

Natalie Suleman shed the Octomom label because of one of her kids

Over the years, Octomom has faced her share of rough patches, including allegations of welfare fraud (she pleaded no contest, per CBS) and backlash for being a single, unemployed mom-of-six when expecting her octuplets. But it's actually because of her kids that Natalie Suleman reinvented herself, telling People in 2016, "After I had observed my daughter beginning to emulate me, I saw her going down that same potentially destructive path, and I realized at that moment I'd rather be homeless in my van with all 14 kids than continuing down this path." She relocated the family to California and resumed working as a counselor, per People.

In that same interview, Suleman said, "I devote my whole life to my family and that's the least I could do, because there's only one me and 14 of them." 

The Octomom's kids are already in 5th grade

If you're wondering what the Octomom's children look like now, you're in luck. Natalie Suleman regularly updates her Instagram with pictures of her kids. In August 2019, she posted about the octuplets starting fifth grade, writing, "I love you, each and every one of you, unconditionally. You are all becoming some of the most kind, selfless, caring human beings I have ever known." It's also worth noting the octuplets aren't Suleman's only children — she's actually a mother of 14.

In January 2020, the octuplets turned 11 and, of course, their mom celebrated on Instagram. "Happy birthday to my beautiful angels. You are some of the kindest, most compassionate, caring human beings I've ever known," Suleman wrote. "Words cannot express how grateful I am to be your mother. You all have blessed my life immensely and I thank God daily for trusting me to care for, shape the lives of, and influence all of you." After noting that recent tragedies — likely a reference to the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant, his daughter, and seven others — are a reminder of how precious life is, she wrote to her kids, "You are my miracles, my angels, and I will love you with all my heart, forever."