I’ve been wanting to post about the whole Sarah Palin running for Vice President with a special needs infant and a pregnant teen at home thing, but I worried that it might be too controversial. It’s sort of the “can working moms be good moms?” question on steroids, and while I think it’s a worthy discussion for a blog such as this, I’ve been a little scared of where that discussion might lead.
But then NPR did a story on this very topic, this very morning. I listened to it while I drove to work. You can listen to the story here.
OK. Let’s get the disclaimers out of the way first: I’ve always been an Obama Mama and Senator McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin as a running mate did nothing to either strengthen or weaken my resolve. I’m actually happy to see a female in the running, and if Palin were on the Democratic ticket, I’d still be itching to discuss.
Now, to the topic at hand…
As my headline indicates, I’m torn. I don’t want disparage other moms or try to limit what they can do, because I feel like that’s a really, really slippery slope. But I do feel like there’s a big difference between working a job that lets you be with your family at night and on weekends and running for Vice President, which pretty much requires that you be on the campaign trail 24/7. I also feel like it’s a moot point to compare Palin with Hillary Clinton and other female politicians of that ilk, because if I remember correctly, their children were at least out of diapers (and not in crisis) when they assumed such a major and time-consuming role. I also feel like the job of Vice President falls into the category of “would be nice to have” as opposed to “must have.” Many working moms work because they absolutely need to in order to feed their children. I don’t think the Palins will be going on welfare if Mrs. Palin doesn’t win in November.
And then, I have to ask myself whether I’d be asking the same questions if we were talking about a man. In a day when men are (or should be) better able to request family leave of their employers and contribute just as much to their children as far as nurturing goes, I like to think that a decent number of men, if faced with a special needs infant and a pregnant teen all at once, might approach their bosses with the request for a bit more flexibility in order to care for their families. Or at least ask themselves whether that huge new position of responsibility–one that would take them away from their families at such a critical time–is absolutely necessary. I think we all, men and women, realize that life is about balance and give and take, and sometimes, when people are offering you something really huge, you have to say no because something even greater is at stake. Which, I guess, is a really roundabout way of saying that I probably *would* wonder the same thing about a man. Or at least, I long to live in a world where we can look at men–just as we do women–and wonder these things.
I don’t know. I really don’t. I’m not going to vote for McCain/Palin, but it’s not because of any opinion I might have about Palin’s commitment to her family. It’s just that her candidacy has thrust this topic into the spotlight, and the whole family values thing is bound to become an issue this year, just as it always does come election time. I’m really curious what my fellow working moms think, politics aside. Speak up, ladies!