Last Sarah Palin Post… I Promise!

Thanks to everyone who responded to my post about the conflicted feelings I’ve been having over the Sarah Palin candidacy. I appreciated getting different viewpoints, and one post in particular helped crystallize what I’ve been mulling over for the past week or two (I’ll include an excerpt a little farther down). Like I said earlier, I’ve been torn. As a working mom – especially one who writes for a blog called Working Moms Against Guilt – I had a hard time reconciling why I’ve felt uneasy about the work/family debate that has become part of Sarah Palin’s story.

I realize now what’s been bugging me. For me, this isn’t a working mom issue, it’s a family issue — specifically the idea that there are certain times in the life of a family when so much is going on that *both* adults need to ask themselves whether something needs to give. Personally, I would consider having both a special needs infant and a pregnant teenager one of those times. If my husband were offered a new job that would take much of his focus away from our family at such a time, then we would have to have a serious discussion about whether that would be the right move.

I don’t assume Sarah Palin and her husband didn’t have that conversation. In fact, I’m sure they did. And they’ve decided that she should join the McCain ticket. That’s cool. Only they know what their situation is and what supports they have in place. But when you’re running for the second most powerful position in the country, especially when you’re representing the Republican party, which traditionally has had a lot to say about “family values” as well as what women should and shouldn’t be doing in some of the most intimate areas of their lives, then, well… you shouldn’t be surprised when some people want to discuss it. Heck, people raised the same issues when then-candidate John Edwards’ wife had cancer.

I thought Josie said it well in her reponse to my last post. Here’s some of what she had to say:

“Last year, I had a high-powered job (lots of travel, long hours), a new baby at home, and a husband who was gone during the week working in a different city. I was miserable. We both were. We wanted to have another baby, but I just couldn’t see adding another baby to that situation. So, my husband and I both quit our jobs, found jobs working in the same city, with both of us working more normal hours. Fast forward 1 year, and we just had our second baby 4 months ago, and our lives are pretty sane. (as sane as any dual-income two-child family can be).

I bring this up *not* as an example of me (a woman) prioritizing her family over her career. But as an example of a *couple* prioritizing their family over their careers. The way I look at it is that I can always ramp up my career in a few years when my children are more self-sufficient, and/or we put my husband’s career on low burn.

If Sara Palin were a man, I would be asking the same questions. She doesn’t have to take this opportunity now. If she really is the political star they are making her out to be, she will have future opportunities to run for Vice President or even President.

She has a special needs baby and a teenage daughter who need her right now. In a similar situation, I could not wrap my brain around wanting to take on more responsibility in my career. It is so against what my core would be telling me to do. That doesn’t mean that she *can’t* make it work. But my gut is telling me that it is likely that her children will end up getting short changed.

I do not think it is anti-feminist to be asking these kinds of questions. As working parents, we all have to draw the line between work and family. Having a debate about where it is healthy to draw that line is good. Feminism has succeeded in that Sara Palin is on the ticket. I think that’s a *good thing*. But, being a feminist does not mean that I have to condone the choices of all working moms if I don’t think they are healthy choices.”

Before I go I want to address that last bit of Josie’s comment, because a couple of posters have either implied or stated that I shouldn’t be discussing Sarah Palin’s work/family balance if I truly am a liberal and a feminist. First, let me say that there are four women who contribute to this blog, and we don’t all share the same political views. Some of us are more liberal, some are more conservative. Sometimes I don’t even consider myself a liberal, especially when dealing with things like money (in that area, I am about as conservative as they come). So I give myself permission to go back and forth and consider the grey area. I think that’s part of what makes me an intelligent, well-functioning adult.

Second, I do have to wonder whether being a feminist means that one has to agree with every woman in every decision that she makes without reflection. I know that every woman is unique, and I support a woman’s right to choose her own path. I think women have come a long way, but I think we have a long way to go, and discussing these very thorny issues (and admitting that we don’t always agree or understand) will ultimately help us move forward.

But I’d like to hear your thoughts, too. Does being a feminist mean we need to “stick together” no matter what? Should topics like this one be off-limits? Can you be pro-woman – even pro-working-mom – and still express conflicted views about the choices made by other moms? Let’s discuss!

15 thoughts on “Last Sarah Palin Post… I Promise!

  1. I think you should vote for her if you agree with her on the issues. I hope people don’t vote for her based on her sex. I’m not voting for her because, issue by issue, I disagree with her. She knows nothing about foreign policy in a time in our history where it has become the most important factor, imo. She is also pro-life, I disagree with making decisions for other women about their bodies. I do think that we should not be considering her family obligations when voting, because we would not be doing that if she were male. Her husband appears to be holding the stay-at-home parent role, that is their decision and I believe should not be a factor in this election.

  2. just4ofus says:

    I don’t think that all of you share the same political views or always agree on topics. I think in essence your blog speaks for itself in the fact that you are 4 women trying to balance career and family. I think feminist tends to be defined as a uber liberal, have black and white, and no exceptions. That shouldn’t be. I think there should be many levels of feminism, but the fact is most uber liberals wouldn’t agree. I am social liberal, fiscal conservative. As I want women’s rights, I also feel that women and men can’t have everything, and that being parents is sacrifice. I think we are a long way from breaking the traditional roles, and I really don’t know if that is really necessary. I don’t think there are many blogs that cover the issues of working dads against guilt and the their struggles, or the questions of “Would you work if you didn’t have too?”
    As far a Sara Palin, well, I still think that if this were Biden’s family, this blog post would most likely not exist. And not b/c you wouldn’t question it. But because the media would never have covered the issues to this degree. My point was most of the people raising the issues, tend to be the liberal media and women. That shocks me.
    My feelings regarding Sara Palin were summed up on Saturday Night Live’s introduction last night.
    No vote for me.

    10:16 AM

  3. says:

    I think that you’re right. It’s all about timing. Sarah Palin is young and has all the time in the world to run for office. Now is the time to tend to her family. I think she especially owes it to her daughter to be available once her grandchild is born. I was 30, married and financially stable when I had my first child, yet my mother’s help was invaluable. Imagine what a 17 year old mother needs?
    As I am writing this, I can just imagine what you are thinking. What is this – The Red Tent? Well, no, but if we take on bringing children into this world, I believe we should be aware of all that comes with it. A special needs baby + a pregnant teen + 3 other children = a full time job for both mom and dad. The vice presidency can wait.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I just found your blog and was so excited to see that there might be a blog that spoke to me as a working mom who has chosen to work even while my kids are young. It ‘s the best for my family.
    However, I won’t be back here. This blog entry shows that never mind the title of the blog, the moms here are still judging others based on the outside perspective of “Oh she’s working and even with a stay at home dad. It’s the mom who must choose to give up her dream and stay with her family.”
    Bottom line, this is outrageously sexist. I agree with Erika vote against the ticket based on issues but leave her ability to work and be a mom out of it. Haven’t we come further than that antiquated notion yet???!!!

  5. says:

    I knew I’d get some grief for my comment but I didn’t mean to drive readers away (sorry WMAG!). Anonymous, so you are telling me that you think it’s ok for a mother to take on the HUGE responsibility of being VP when her family is going through some BIG changes that require a lot of attention. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe being VP requires lots of travel, long hours and 100% dedication. I have no idea what you do for a living but I am going to go out on a limb and assume your job is not as demanding as our VP’s. I am all for working moms. I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t. I just think we have to find the appropriate jobs for our families.

  6. Hey, anon. I think I’ve done a good job of trying to open a conversation and express my own thoughts without dictating that others must think or feel as I do. I’ve even asked the question whether topics like this are appropriate for a blog like this to discuss. Your answer, obviously, is no and I respect that. But I think you’ll find if you stick around that the moms here are quite supportive of working women (and men) from all walks of life.

    I also agree with Erika that our votes should be based on the issues. Take a look at my original post, where I said that my decision on who to vote for was made months ago and isn’t affected in the least by John McCain’s selection of running mate. I certainly am not advocating people vote for or against a candidate based on their family situations. I’m looking at it more from a broader issue that has captured my attention (where do families draw the work/family balance line when life tosses a lot of challenges at them at once?) And I honestly want other peoples’ viewpoints. So thanks for expressing yours. After this post, I’ll just let the topic drop.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I am not going to judge Sarah Palin’s ambition (New York Times today quoted her as responding to a comment ten years ago from a friend that she could be governor, with “I want to be president.”) Let’s not fool ourselves, she’s ambitious, but I will also not judge her family’s decisions about what they do. All I want is the Republicans (family values party) to STAY OUT of other people’s families. That’s right, STAY OUT. Women who want/need abortions should be able to get them. Same sex couples who want to marry, should be able to. As to whether or not, we should be talking about this or any other subject regarding women’s rights and politics, our DEMOCRACY gives us that right. Isn’t that we are fighting for all over the world, democracy? An ideal that we even have trouble giving to ourselves. No wonder the world is not impressed with the United States anymore. We tell everyone else what they should do, how they should act, and we don’t even allow our own citizens the same rights. So, Sarah Palin can run her family any way she wants to, but I deserve the same right. And no, I’m not voting for her. But not because I don’t think she can handle the job, that is not my decision. I just plain disagree with her political views.

  8. My husband is a historian so I know a lot about history that I wouldn’t know otherwise,but I can tell from these posts and many comments that most people think the Vice-Presidency is more of a time-committment than it really is. Article II of the Constitution establishes that the VP votes in the case of a tie in the Senate. Most other day to day duties are set by the president. Maybe people think VP is such a major job because Bush (because of inexperience in A LOT of areas) gave Cheney one of the most powerful VP roles in history. Bill Clinton made Gore more of an advisor,(ie: free time) which is how many historians speculate McCain would use Palin, especially on energy policy.
    The truth is that MOST DAYS THE VP JOB HOURS ARE MUCH LIKE MOST OF OUR OWN, with a good degree of flexibility. (See Wikipedia role of VP.) I’m not trying to be a know-it-all, but it seems like so many arguments hinge on the preceived huge time-committment of the job.

    I’ve been criticised by a mom who worked fewer hours than I did,so I don’t want to be the mom who turns around and does that about Sarah Palin. I can’t help but feel that so many working moms (against guilt) are subconsciously making themselves feel better by pointing the finger at Palin because at least they are home with their kids more than they think she will be.

  9. As a parent of a 4-year-old with autism and epilepsy, I explain why I’m voting Obama in my blog

    I wish Gov. Palin and her family well — I just don’t trust that she’ll do anything to help families like ours.

  10. Third Mom says:

    The issues should drive one’s vote, not their family status. I work full time, my husband’s a stay-at-home dad, so I would be pretty hypocritical to say otherwise.

    I think that complicated issue, like abortion, have so polarized the population that it’s impossible to have a point of view that is outside either party line. I wrote a little about this here

    and here

  11. I appreciate all of the comments and I too am torn. I am not usually one to criticize, and I will vote on the issues, but the buzz around Sarah Palin is hard to ignore and has me working very hard to try and crystallize my concerns about the impact of her choice to run for VP.

    I am afraid of how her choice will affect the perception of working Moms. She is ignoring the hardship that it must be bringing to her family to have her in demand for campaigning and to move (if she wins) her family across the country and away from their support network. What I am worried about is that people might say, well if the Vice President can do it, then why can’t you? She doesn’t need maternity leave. She doesn’t take time off for family crisis. She is not championing the need for health benefits for single moms or support for working families in terms of flexibility on the job to pump breast milk or to attend to a sick child.

    Will we lose some of the hard fought benefits we are just now gaining?

  12. The Q Family says:

    I truly enjoy your post and all the comments. I think it’s a really healthy discussion that is valid.

    IMHO, I don’t even care if Palin has small children or special need children, it doesn’t impact my decision on who to vote for. I look at her policy and I totally disagree with almost everything with her. So with that, I won’t be voting for her. I don’t think Feminist should mean we have to vote to the first VP nominee. I will think that we are smarter and more intelligent than that to just use Sex as our only decision. If we do that, then we are not different from other discriminating issues that we have been fight for all these years.

    -Amy @ The Q Family

  13. Anonymous says:

    When will women wake up and quit being used by the liberals as a political issue! How dare each of you judge Sarah Palin for making a choice to make a run at BREAKING THE GLASS CEILING? This blog is called "Working Moms Against Guilt" isn't it??? Each one of us is making choices based on our individual family situations. Personal & private choices. I find it funny that the party that is OK with the women's choice of killing babies is struggling with a women's choice to have a family & a high powered job! Quit letting your party politics get in the way of supporting a fellow women. But maybe that's the point–maybe we are part of the problem of why the "glass ceiling" can't quite be broken. It's just easier to blame everyone and everything else than examining the role that we as woman have to take in getting us there! As I tell my four year old twins, "You have to earn what you get." In our society of entitlement maybe my fellow women think that men are just going to hand us the golden key. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A FREE LUNCH LADIES!!!! If you want that perfect balance of work and home life we need someone that can more that "just relate". Having a women in the White House could mean more for working women then I can even imagine–but NONE of that is being discussed in the media! I'll say it again…when are we women going to stand up for ourselves and our families and STOP BEING A POLITICAL PAWN OF THE LIBERALS??????

  14. Anonymous says:

    I was hopeful when I found this website and specifically a discussion about this topic. But I will never come back! I have never posted before but I can not believe the judgement and the amount of GUILT that you women are throwing towards Sarah Palin! Isn’t the website called “Working moms against guilt”, right? If she was a women there would be no discussion! I have been searching the web for support for full time working moms–there is none! Women should be ashamed of how we treat each other! For all we know–men run and write this website!

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