Friday, September 05, 2008

The Mommy Wars: Presidential Election Edition

As the leaves change and the air takes on a bit of a crisp feeling in the upcoming weeks (or months if you live where I live), we get the joy of welcoming Fall. Fall makes me giddy inside, with the cozy clothes, Starbucks specialty drinks, and feeling of anticipation as we countdown to the upcoming holidays just waiting around the corner to be celebrated.

Fall also means election time in our great country.

Yes, we are (thankfully) charged with the task of electing a new president this November, something that is taken quite seriously here at casa de phillips.

Generally I steer-clear of politics here at savethephillipsfamily, mainly because people struggle with discussing such things without walking away with hurt feelings and mainly because stories about my children are much more amusing than a discussion of recent debates. Sadly, I tend to prefer humorous over intellectual.

In the past, I have discussed the ever touchy subject of the Mommy Wars (you can read such discussions here), wondering aloud on this blog about the struggle between being Mommy/Wife/Employee. Is it possible? Can we do it all as women? Do we want to attempt to do it all even if it happens to be an attainable goal?

You are likely aware that one of the candidates in this presidential election has a female as his vice presidential running mate.

Political standing aside, I think having women in the presidential election is fabulous. I grew up in a time when Geraldine Ferraro was an anomaly, discussed in Civics class as if she was a rare species found deep in the Amazon. Girls in the White House: what a novel idea.

Yet, having a female VP candidate with young children still at home (she has four under the age of 18...which I consider to be "young") brings the Mommy Wars into this election. I am left asking, Can a Mommy of young children hold such a position as Vice President of the United States?

Other questions swirling around in my head include (Questions I don't have the answer to...thus the reason I am asking you):

Can a mother of young children hold high political office (VP is quite high, dear friends....especially when the possible President is clocking in at 72 years of age.)?

Is it responsible for a mother with a young (four months old) special needs child to take on such a demanding position?

Does this candidate hold any responsibility towards helping her teenage daughter, who is about to get married to a fellow 17 year old and is expecting her first child? Can she do so while being Vice President of the most powerful country in the world?

Is this candidate choosing her country over her family? Is that okay?

If in the office of Vice President of the United States, is okay for this particular person to choose her family over her country?

Is it fair for her pregnant daughter to have to endure the public scrutiny over her unplanned pregnancy simply because her mother wants to become Vice President?

Is there a double-standard at play here? No questions have ever been raised currently or in the past about male candidates with children who are still under the age of 18. If there is a double standard, are we okay with that?

These are my questions and I anticipate your thoughts. These questions are not political in nature, they are not Democratic or Republican, War or Anti-War. Simply because I am discussing this particular VP candidate does not indicate how I am voting (although I will proudly tell you who I AM voting for if you ask). My questions are searching to understand if a Mommy of young children can take on such a prominent, demanding job and if doing so is contributing to the good or to the demise of her family.

Please feel free to share thoughts about this. I do ask that you avoid using specific names (in order to prevent random Google hits) and to avoid speaking about policy or political issues and as nice. I want to here what you think about this VP Candidate in relation to the Mommy Wars.

I promise to return to humorous tales of childhood tomorrow...


Kelly said...

I have no idea. After hearing the speech last night and listening to the commentaries today, I don't know what I think. As a mom, I can't imagine what I would be sacrificing to do that job. But I also can't imagine being given that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I don't think the same exact questions needed to be asked of HC, b/c her daughter is older. But I wonder why they aren't asked of BO. Although, both BO and SP seem to have amazingly supportive spouses to pick up where they might not be able to. Shouldn't that be enough for a man or woman? It makes my head hurt thinking about it too much.

Good thing I'm not running. :)

Jenni said...

I've had many of the same bothers me that there seems to be a double standard of dads in high political office, especially when their wives are also deeply involved as with the C family (because CC was young when BC took office as well).

But at the same time, what about women who are big wigs in multi-national corporations? Who travel all over the world and have crazy busy stressful jobs? Because they are not in the spotlight, does that make it ok? And yes, the VP is a big job with many possible repercussions. But really, how often do we even hear about what the VP is doing?

I think we have to let each woman/family decide what works best for them. We have a family at my church where the wife is a bigwig attorney and the dad stays home. That is what works for them. Who am I to say that the mom is the one that should be at home with the kids?

Like Kelly said, good thing I'm not running.

Amy said...

I think that stay at home dads can meet the kids' needs. I'm not sure if Mr. P is a SAHD (I recall snowmobile racing and oil prod foreman being on his resume) but I would hope he would take up the task should they relocate to DC.

I shall opine by saying SP being added to the ticket has refreshed my perspective in this electoral race. Call me silly, but I was an avid viewer of "Commander in Chief" and greatly disappointed when it was cancelled. Funny how we could possbily see the tv scenario in real life:-)

DCVol said...

I definitely think SP will have challenges as a mother if she makes it to the VP mansion... the fam obviously will not have moose to hunt, fresh ice to play hockey on, or any real snow to go snow-mobiling on. I guess I just respect the fact that she feels as though her career path is worth it and they have found ways to make it work. I also don't blame her for her 17 year old daughter's pregnancy. I have several friends who work outside the home and have demanding jobs- some have to work for financial reasons and others do not have to work, but choose to; I have learned through experience that it is an extremely personal and sensitive decision that each family makes and my opinion, nor anyone else's, ever really helps or matters. It's cliche, but I do think that every family should do what is best for their family.....there are a lot of SAHM's who have preggo 17 year old daughters and there are a lot of professional mom's whose kids make wise decisions....perhaps there is a coorelation somewhere in some study, but in this day and age I think working moms are only going to become more prevalent. Therefore I think it is best that we as women do all we can to support them and their families and keep our opinions to ourselves (myself included). That is just my "opine", in the words of my boyfriend Bill O'R :).

Alison said...

It has been really interesting to "watch" this process unfold from outside of our country. It's kind of nice to be able to seek out less biased views instead of being inundated by both sides. I'm worried about this VP pick for reasons other than the mothering issue and although she has proven to be a prolific speaker I do worry that she might be being "used" as a woman and a mother in some ways.

As for the mothering issues, my mom worked a job that caused her to travel a lot when I was little. I definitely missed that time with her (and know she probably did too), but even then I was proud of her for being so "important" (she might as well have been the VP to me!). She also made a tremendous effort to be with me when she could, which I think is the only reason it worked.

If SP (or OB for that matter) gets the job I think it will take tremendous effort on the part of the entire family, and being really fierce about shielding the kids from the spotlight as much as possible.

Thanks for another great post!

Ashley said...

I have thought of all of this so much as well. Maybe because i am a working mom I have a different opinions. I really do think "it takes a village". Palin's husband is a SAHD and I think that can be just as good as a mom. I also think with the electronic age, it does make busy work easier to be close to your family.

It doesn't mean that I think it will not effect her young children. (all of them) I think the same think for the Obama girls. They will grow up with a VERY busy daddy. There are things both Palin and Obama will miss out on that are priceless. I hate that for their families just like I hate that Carley isn't part of a play group because I work. It is a tough balance for both families, I think.

Chelsea seemed to do fine, Al Gore's daughters seemed to do fine. You just never know. I really do think it is more about the support system than just one mother though.

It is an interesting election and for the first time in a long time I am really torn on some issues and go back and forth.

Can't wait to see it all unfold.

GPaty said...

One of my favorite sayings is that "God doesn't bring you to it, if He's not going to give you the grace to get through it". I personally do not feel like Palin went seeking or asking for this VP nomination. One of the things that everyone keeps talking about is how random it is, she was someone that no one had ever heard of, etc. She has made it clear that she isn't going to D.C. to be the same ol' politician that we're used to seeing. So...that has made me really stop and think that God has brought her to this place in her life for a reason. She didn't ask for it, she didn't seek out the limelight and scrutiny, but HERE SHE IS. And I believe that because He has brought her here, He is going to give her the wisdom and stamina to get through it. If she is our nation's next VP, then it's for a reason and I just choose to trust that He will provide for her family just as He does mine and yours and everyone else who seek Him. I sympathize with her and the choices she will be forced to make regarding her priorities. Bottem line, I just don't feel like she woke up and decided to become the VP nomination one day...hence the opinion that it must be a God thing. I'm anxioux to see how that plan unfolds.

Shanta said...

I'm glad I'm not SP. Wait, I used to be "SP." Now, I'm SM. Anyhoo, glad I'm not having to make that choice. Keeping a 9-5 job with a baby at home is hard enough... That being said, I have a girl crush on her.

kate m. said...

I have definitely thought a lot about SP since she was named as the VP candidate. First of all, I think her daughter should be completely off limits as should jabs at any of her children (including comments that speculate that the 5 month old is actually her daughter's child). I recall B*ll Cl*nton firmly stating that his daughter was to remain out of all election talks when he ran, and I must say that I respected him for that. I think the same should hold true to any candidate's young children.

As for my thoughts on SP in general, I think that as parents, we encourage our sons and daughters alike to dream big. If a young girl comes up and tells us that she would like to aspire to be president of the United States, we don't tell her that it is impossible and that she must choose between having a family and a career. We encourage her to keep dreaming and to keep working hard to reach her goals. We tell our children that they can be what they want to be if they work hard. That said, the message our society and the media is sending about SP is that girls really can't attain such goals. I think it is important for our young girls to see that women are aspiring to do great things in this world. As an avid news-watcher and a self-proclaimed political junkie, I don't think this is the message the media is portraying to younger girls. I also agree that there is a horrible double standard presented in this election. As many others have pointed out, BO hasn't been scrutinized and criticized for having two young children at home. I think our nation forgets that children need both mothers and fathers. Anyway, I think the criticism SP is getting is wrong, and I agree with those who say that each family operates differently. In the medical community I live in, I have encountered several stay-at-home dads whose wives are in med school or residency and even more men who plan on staying at home when they do have kids. I guess seeing these "non-traditional" roles lived out has opened my mind up to the fact that what is best for one family is not necessarily best for another. I think our job as fellow parents is to respect the decisions others make in regards to their families (even if we don't understand them ourselves) just as we want the decisions we make for our families to be respected by others.

It was fun to read everyone's opinions on this matter! Politics can be a fun subject if everyone plays nice.