Friday morning I accompanied a good friend to an imaging center as her "bosom buddy." While waiting for her test, we sat a comfortable waiting room (cookies to die for) and watched, in awe, as Senator McCain announced that Gov. Sarah Palin would be his running mate. Another patient, who'd been waiting longer than us, filled us in:
"She's 44, has 5 children, the youngest is 4 months old with Down Syndrome." The smile froze on my face, and I barely heard the rest, about Palin's pipeline views, Alaskan home state, son being deployed to Iraq, NRA connections, etc. I was stuck on the fact that a woman with 5 kids--one a Down's baby--would knowingly put herself on the path to the White House. Excuse me, but why does one have a bunch of children and then choose an intense life in politics? I know that I had my precious boys and girl so that I could raise them, not someone else.
Am I being harsh? Does anyone else think this is sad?
I might add that I am not a supporter of either McCain or Obama at this point. I was, at first, gleeful to hear that a woman was in the running, hence the aforementioned smile. But as a mother, I know that being one demands more than I ever expected, so much that I cannot fathom trying to juggle motherhood with the intensity of so high a political position.
Someone mentioned, perhaps her husband is a homebody and will care for them. Maybe so. In Washington, he would likely give up oil working and fishing and stay home with the children.
Maybe I am being sexist. What is different about a woman with children taking a public office position than a man taking a similar post? Maybe nothing, for some.
I'm sure Mrs. Palin and her family gave a great deal of thought to her choice. I have to hope that her teen daughters (Bristol, 17, and Willow, 14) feel competent to help raise their disadvantaged baby sibling, Trig, 4 months, and little sister Piper, 7. After all, they are making it work now, with Governor Palin returning to her job just 3 days after Trig's birth in April. She's nothing if not devoted to her work.
Perhaps, like many, she is just trying to have it all. To her credit, she chose not to end her baby's life when told he had the extra chromosome. She is devoutly pro-life, and while it might have made it easier on her future to terminate the pregnancy, she did not. For this I hold her in high regard.
One other thing. Because I was sitting in a room full of women, I noticed that without exception, Mrs. Palin's family situation was the first thing that came in to each of our minds. Not one mentioned her qualifications for the job.