Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Mojo Moms don't have to be macho

People have been asking me why I haven't written more about Sarah Palin and part of the answer is that I'll never get my book done in time if I allow myself to become obsessed with her. But here I go....

I am proud of the blog post I wrote last week analyzing the content of her convention speech, and yes, her personal storyline is a little like Mojo Mom on steroids, in terms of a mother reaching the highest levels of leadership. But I don't think her life story is at all realistic, and I am worried about what would happen if we were all expected to be like her. I hate that she has to act so macho and invincible. I cringe at the stories of her hiding her pregnancy and returning to work days after giving birth. From the New York Times, "Fusing Politics and Motherhood in a New Way":

Before her son was born, Ms. Palin went to extraordinary lengths to ensure that his arrival would not compromise her work. She hid the pregnancy. She traveled to Texas a month before her due date to give an important speech, delivering it even though her amniotic fluid was leaking. Three days after giving birth, she returned to work

Maybe she could get out of bed and go back to work competently three days later, but that seems incredibly unrealistic and actually inhumane to me. I would never encourage any woman to aspire follow that example. My current activism is focused on efforts to make sure that mothers get the family leave they need to care for themselves and their families during important life transitions and health care crises.

Journalists Katty Kay (mother of four) and Claire Shipman take on these issues in today's Wall Street Journal, "Let's Talk About Palin's Family Challenges." These successful professional Moms argue that the future trend is toward life sanity, not insanity like Palin's:

Fed up with 50- and 60-hour weeks and a career ladder we didn't build and don't want to climb, women are looking for jobs that demand fewer and freer hours. We want to work but we also want quantity time, as well as quality time, with our children. Most of us no longer buy the onwards-and-upwards drive to the corner office (or in Mrs. Palin's case, the West Wing) at the cost of a fragmented family life. More and more, women are choosing a tapestry of family and work in which we define our own success in reasonable terms -- even if we sacrifice some "prestige."

And by the way, in Gen X and Y, men are more willing to choose that path as well. If we play our cards right we could get a workplace revolution that benefits all of us.

Palin's Superwoman image is a Republican fantasy come true. She might as well get "Rugged American Individualism" tattooed on her forehead. She can shoot the moose and cook up the mooseburgers; she'll tell you that her teenage daughter's unplanned pregnancy is a blessing, not a burden, as is the arrival of her special-needs child; and by the way, she'll birth her baby and then be back to run the state after a weekend's worth of rest.

I don't know about you, but I don't want to live in a country run by people who make public policies based on that unrealistic, unsustainable storyline.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you Mojo Mom! This is a good post. I am a more feminine mom than Palin, and it's okay. No need to get all frantic about the Palin sensation, and you have not done that. I think you are wise.


12:39 PM  
Blogger Misguided Mama said...

I'm far from a supermom, and although I have personal goals I'm aiming for, the best interest of my children comes before anything else. Why be a mom if you don't treasure the new moments you have with your child? Whether her son has downs or not, I'd do my best to develop some kind of bond with him, and the most important time to do that is upon his immediate arrival- right after he's born. Three days isn't going to cut it. I feel sorry for the little guy.

12:49 PM  
Blogger MojoMom said...

As usual, Anna Quindlen nails it.

Read her "Last Word" column, Can You Say 'Sexist?' and watch her skillfully unravel the Republican's hypocrisy.

2:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well said Amy! I have felt that she isn't a good role model for moms, but wasn't quite able to verbalize why. You nailed it on the head.

6:25 PM  

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