Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Glass Crack: Mom in Chief

(originally posted 12/08 at wordpress)

by Gwen Davis

I knew when Michelle Obama announced that her first priority would be her children, acknowledging she was not interested in the two-for-one mentality of the Clinton era, there would be mixed opinions. One US News reporter called this choice a “shame and setback” for women. Apparently Hillary didn’t get it right, and Michelle won’t please the masses either.

My mother worked a lot. I remember going to dental school with her as a little girl and sleeping on the floor of her office if I was too sick to go to school. We did not see much of each other. I had many friends whose mothers stayed home, and I remember thinking how nice it would be to come home to family.

Last year at this time, I was teaching preschool. Many of the children were at the school longer than I was, and I worked overtime everyday. Who is raising children these days? It sure isn’t parents. If Michelle Obama wants to be home with her kids through what will inevitably be a stressful, busy, and chaotic four—hopefully eight—years, then I say good for her. Women cannot expect her to represent each one of us.

The reporter fuels the fire by adding that “the feminist movement has been so burned by conservatives who labeled feminists as ‘anti-motherhood’ that the movement still has not found a comfortable place to reside in the chasm between career women and homemakers.” There seems to be a mutual feeling of guilt. Working women are not home with the kids and therefore feel like sub par mothers; homemakers haven’t join the work force and might feel like the women’s movement has left them behind. Now, this is purely speculation, but I know I already feel confused and I don’t have a fulltime job or children.

By the time I graduate I will have two master’s degrees. I want to be a career woman, but I also want a family. Am I willing to leave my children at daycare for ten hours? Absolutely not! Something will have to give, and I think that is how Michelle Obama is feeling. The Obama family is in the spotlight, during a very difficult and fragile time I might add. What is wrong with providing a sense of normality, especially since the girls are so young?

It is disappointing that a declaration of family first has been met with such criticism. Many of the social problems we face today can be traced back to the family, or lack thereof. I am proud that our future first lady is committed to family. She has plenty of time to shine and put her Ivy League education to good use, but for now I see nothing wrong with her instilling the values of family and education in her children.

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