The Demands of Motherhood
People have been raising a lot of questions lately about Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, Senator John McCain’s pick for VP. Here’s one that—despite being politically incorrect— I feel compelled to ask: What does she think of her role as a mother?
Believe me, as a working mom, I realize the danger in judging how another woman chooses to conduct her pregnancies and care for her kids. But pretty much every mom I know realizes that motherhood is a demanding job that involves some serious compromises. That’s why I have to wonder: What was Palin thinkingwhen she went back to work three days after her special-needs baby was born? And when she decided to take on what is arguably one of the most demanding jobs in the world when she has a special-needs infant and a pregnant teen—not to mention three other kids?
I think, at very least, Palin needs to address the question of who is going to be there for her children and what sort of support she’ll have to her so her family can remain a top priority. And then this: Is maternity leave a good idea, or should women who give birth be expected to just take a couple of sick days and head back to the office?
Would we ask these questions of a man? Absolutely, if he was the one who had given birth and had the capacity to breastfeed a child. Let’s face it: Mothers and dads don’t play identical roles in their child’s life, particularly during infancy. It seems to me that ignoring that fact diminishes the importance of motherhood in our society and deprives working mothers and their children of the support they deserve—and they need.
But maybe that’s an old-fashioned and sexist way of looking at things. I’d love to hear what you all think.