Friday, August 29, 2008

The Politics of Life (with apologies to the author of the blog of the same name for borrowing her title for this post)

I'm running a sick ward today. The Dean had a minor but painful procedure yesterday so he's recuperating. Then, this morning my cell phone rang an hour into my 90 minute commute to work; Boo wasn't feeling well and it might be a good idea to pick him up.

After turning around and driving back home for another hour - but before making a trip to the pediatrician - the three of us watched and read the coverage of John McCain's selection of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate.

When her family walked out to join her, I assumed that the newborn was a grandchild, a nephew, a godson. I was stunned to learn that baby Trig (who the hell names their kid after a math class, for chrissakes?!) is all of 4 months old - and that he has Down Syndrome.

I'm a mother of a child with a disability, too. Like many, many others, I know what it's like to have a child with special needs and have the need to "work outside the home." (I also know what it's like to be a stay-at-home-mom, having BTDT.) I have no doubt that Ms. Palin juggles her professional and personal duties admirably as Governor of Alaska.

I remember how I felt after Boo's diagnosis. I threw myself into action, reading everything I could, talking to everyone I could. I remember volunteering for a committee two weeks after receiving Boo's diagnosis along with some moms who planned to start a school for children with autism. They kindly told me that I was in shock (I was) and that they would understand, once we realized all that this entailed, if my volunteer work would need to be shelved. (It was.) Shortly thereafter, the realities of this new reality of ours caught up with me.

When this Brave New World was still all new to me, I couldn't fathom how hard we would need to work with Boo over the last four years to get him where he is, and how much time we would need to invest in preparing for and attending meetings with teachers, finding the best specialists, researching the best therapy options and reading about the latest breakthroughs in autism.

I had no clue how little time The Dean and I have for each other, the effect that having a child with a disability would have on our marriage, how exhausted we would be, how much of a struggle it is on days like today when one is sick (and how damn grateful I am to have a boss who understands what it's like to get a call from a daycare provider or nurse requesting that you grind your day to a screeching halt and pick up a sick child). But despite all the above, my kids are truly the loves of my life, just as I'm sure Sarah Palin's children are to hers.

Sarah Palin seems to be a caring and warm mother, a professional, and like her hoped-for boss, a dedicated public servant. I'm sure she has all the qualities that the GOP is promoting in their talking points. And I know that much of the logistical juggling that The Dean and I do on a daily basis would likely be handled much differently in The White House than they are in Our House.

I'm not convinced that she's the right choice right now to be a heartbeat away from being the President of the United States - or, as Paul Begala says, the most powerful, difficult, complicated job in human history. Especially when that potential President is attempting to blow out 72 candles on his birthday cake today, and has dealt with four - count 'em, four - bouts of cancer. I need to seriously question his judgement on this. McSame (not an original moniker; borrowed from another blogger somewhere) reportedly only met her ONE TIME before offering the VP gig. I've hired student interns (who are unpaid!) in my office after more than one conversation.

This is not intended to be a post slamming Palin or her decision to work. I happen to believe that moms can - and do - successfully work outside the home while being excellent moms to their children, special needs and all. But I've recently come to believe that the notion of "having it all" is a fairy tale, a myth, and absolute, utter crap.

What I can't seem to get past is my belief that when you add the special needs component and all the demands and emotions that entails, then in those circumstances there are some jobs that are best left to others.

Such as the Vice President and President of the United States.

Postscript: If you liked this blog post, you'll probably also enjoy:


DemMom said...

No problem on borrowing the title! I'm flattered. I've been thinking about posting on the same subject. Obviously, I wasn't going to vote for McSame no matter who he chose. And while I agree with you that "having it all" is a myth, I say "Go Girl" to those who fake it well. And I don't think she's a BAD mom for doing this, I just think it's ... I'm not even sure what words to choose.
When Bug was 2 months old, she became seriously ill. Long hospital visits and words like "heart failure" were used. I made an excruciatingly difficult choice to quit my full time political campaign job because I couldn't work the way they wanted me to and take care of my family. She got over that illness, so I'm not even comparing it to autism or Downs, conditions that don't go away. But as a woman and a mother, I just can't imagine how this is going to work.
And I don't think it will work; I think it is patronizing of the Rs to think that women will vote for ANY female. I think some GOP women might say "How great! A real mom/woman in the White House!" But I think a lot more will say what we're saying. This just won't work.

DemMom said...

And by the way, that decision was only "excruciating" for the cosmic equivalent of about 5 minutes. I don't regret the decision to quit that job for one second. Even when they were talking about nominating that candidate for VP.

Betty and Boo's Mommy said...

I'm so glad Bug is OK now ... I can't imagine how scary that was. If I've learned anything in the past several years, it's to have faith that things will work out - even if they don't seem like they will at the time. There are other jobs.

Anonymous said...

Thank you! I completely agree with you on Sarah Palin and her quest to be VP with a special needs newborn on hand! If she were pursuing this in 8 yrs or something when she has a handle on her life to be, then maybe I could see it, but not now!

gail elle said...

You have definitely thought out your opinions and are an informed voter.
One of the great things about this country is the ability for all of us to learn about the candidates and to have a say in choosing our leader!

Betty and Boo's Mommy said...

Thanks so much for the kind words, Anonymous!