I don’t want to discuss Palin’s politics, her beliefs or her qualifications. My mind’s made up on this and I’m sure yours is as well. What I do want to discuss is Sarah Palin as a working mother.
I want to make sure this is clear: no matter your political position on this issue, we working moms should not criticize Sarah Palin for anything related to the fact that she’s a working mother. We’ve come too far for that.
I stand in awe of Palin and women like her; the superwomen who can do anything. Opportunity knocks and they answer, and figure out the rest later, often taking the family right along with them. I admire the heck out of that and as a working mom, have tried to do the same.
People have criticized Palin for “going back to work the very next day” after her youngest child was born. Any mother of more than one child will tell you, WE ALL GO BACK TO WORK THE NEXT DAY. Going to an office, for some of us, would be a BREAK compared to the work some endure at home.
My best friend Carmela had her fourth child recently. We spoke a couple of days later as she was driving carpool for her older children. I marveled at how she’d picked up right where she’d left off and she dismissed it with, “It’s not like I can just STOP, right?”
Remember, for generations and across cultures there have been women who delivered babies in the rice paddy or the cotton field and just kept on working. Remember that there are women who must, to keep body and soul together for themselves and their children, hand their babies to someone else and return to the factory, the deployment, the street.
Of course we’re not talking about a woman who “has” to work. We’re talking about the working mom who is there because this is who she is, and this is what she wants to do. Palin is not a person bound by gender and we should not force that upon her.
If anything, I may be a little jealous (and I suspect other working moms, and moms in general) of this as well. Palin has an incredible family support network and, it appears, a very involved and supportive husband. She has not used outside childcare for her kids — her extended family has been there to help her with that. For those of us who have had to use babysitters, nannies and other childcare providers, that sounds wonderful. I’ve always been envious of people who had sisters, aunts, parents and other family members right there to hand the children to as they went off to save the world. Think about it: the working fathers of the world have had that all along.
Some working moms do what they have to do, some do what they’re DRIVEN to do. Clearly Palin is driven. And yes, I admire that — more than that, I IDENTIFY with it. (The similarities — aside from our hairstyles — stop there).
So go ahead — criticize Palin’s politics, her belief system, her style, her ruthlessness, her lack of experience and her track record — but don’t criticize her as a working mother. She’s got that part figured out.