No, I have not lost my mind or closed my business to become a political pundit. But the political goings on are so infuriating at the moment…and being a working mom is part of who I am on this blog…and, I fall into this description of current events so perfectly:
“It’s the Mommy Wars: Special Campaign Edition,” as Jodi Kantor and Rachel Swarns put it so memorably in today’s New York Times, “But this time the battle lines are drawn inside out, with social conservatives, usually staunch advocates for stay-at-home motherhood, mostly defending her, while some others, including plenty of working mothers, worry that she is taking on too much.” Barclay Palmer
I’m a liberal Democrat, a card-carrying member of the feminist party…and a working mother that is worried Sarah Palin is taking on too much. Of course, I think that women should be able to work outside of the home (as I do), but I also think that mothers are critical to the development of their children – and she doesn’t just want to ‘work outside the home’ – no one can claim that the role of VP compares to a 9-5 or even an 8-6.
And, I hear myself and understand that it could sound sexist – that I expect this mom to stay home and raise her children, that I might not have the same expectation if it were Todd Palin. But, here’s the thing (or 4):
1. She is running as a MOM. George Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama did not run as DADS. They didn’t talk about how they were ‘hockey dads’ and ‘PTA dads’ – these ‘jobs’ were not listed as crucial items on their resumes, pertinent to their readiness for the job. Meanwhile, Sarah Palin is – in fact, it’s pretty much all that she has. Her mother of 5 status is flaunted like a badge of honor – it’s critical to who she is and maintained as critical to her identity and experience.
But, if she gets this job, she will be none of those things – she’ll be either absent as a mother, or absent as a VP, possibly as President. And from what she’s told us, she doesn’t even know what the job entails, so I’d hope she’d be around learning how to govern.
2. I believe that moms are special. Our bonds to our children are extraordinary – our closeness is essential. Father’s are special too – I’m not trying to put them down. But, there’s something that women possess, inherently, that is different. It’s one of the things that make women women, that makes me proud to be one. As you can see, it’s indescribable, but it’s there. I believe that men and women are different – that doesn’t make them unequal.
3. I know that being a hands on mom isn’t always possible – but this is a choice that Sarah Palin is making. She isn’t, for example, single and poor and needing to work 2 jobs to feed her family. Instead, she is looking at a job that doesn’t have set hours, that doesn’t have vacation time built in, where you can’t really bring your baby to work. She isn’t just wanting to be a working mom. She wants to be a working mom whose job is the Vice President of the United States! And, if old McCain kicks it, the whole story gets worse – either way, she’ll work until midnight and need to be in the office at 6am – sometimes she’ll be up all night. The world doesn’t click off at 5.
Also, I’m not, by any stretch of the imagination, saying that a woman and/or a mother can not be a world leader – I believe we can, wholeheartedly. But, I think that it makes sense for said woman to be at a specific place in her life – or rather to not be at a specific place in her life…like a mother of young children. Hilary’s daughter is grown, and even when the Clinton’s were in the White House, Chelsea was not a young child, much less an infant.
Not to mention this: it isn’t as easy as going to work and leaving your children somewhere – you need to find the right people, that you trust to raise your children.
4. My last point is harsh, but I’m going to say it anyway. She did this ‘incredible thing’ by birthing her Downs Syndrome child, a child with intense special needs. But isn’t part of that choice about taking responsibility for and being with the child? How will she have time to do this? I work full-time and my children do not have special needs, and I still don’t feel like I have enough time with them (and the guilt pounds on my heart every day…and I’m lucky that their other parent is with them when I’m not).
Before I had kids, I may have had a bit of a different attitude, or at least it wouldn’t have been quite as easy for me to be against her working as VP and having a family (maybe) – but now I have 2 kids and I work (a lot) and I know how it is…
Of course, this is all side-tracking us from the fact that this woman has no experience, that an administrator had to be hired to run the town (5,000 pop.) she was mayor of because she had no idea how to do the job, that she has fired or ruined anyone that has fought against her, that she is working for Alaska’s secession from the United States and that she has no experience that could prepare her to work with world leaders. (To read more, go here.)
I’m going to spend the next 9 weeks working very hard to get Barack Obama elected…and I’m starting by supporting Move On a fantastic organization working to energize and educate young voters. Read more about this citizens group and make a donation here. I just did because I will do everything I can to make a difference in this election.