With the 2008 Presidential Election creeping up on me, politics has been on my mind lately. More specifically, John McCain’s running mate, Sarah Palin, has been the center of my attention. Who is this woman, this working mother of five, who appears to be grabbing the GOP bull by the horns?
The emergence of Sarah Palin onto the political hockey rink has surprised me. A self-described hockey Mom, Sarah Palin is like Super Mom and Wonder Woman combined into one perfectly wrapped package.
As a lifelong Republican, I was excited when John McCain announced his choice for VP. I loved that Palin was pro-life, a working wife and mother, and that she didn’t back down when stating her beliefs. That isn’t to say I wasn’t skeptical of her background, or what she would bring to the table in this election.
The more I learn about Sarah Palin, the more I question my own political beliefs. As a working woman I’ve experienced my fair share of struggles with balancing my personal life with my work life. Add a child to the mix, and the expectations placed upon me increased exponentially.
I struggled with the daily grind of 9-5, I tried desperately to find balance in marriage and motherhood, and never failed to second-guess my life and the decisions I made along the way.
As a young girl I was conflicted about what a woman’s role could or should be. My mother and grandmother taught me that a woman’s place was in the home, to tend to her husband and children.
My female teachers taught me that when I grew up I could be whatever I wanted to be. But society expected me to do both; to be a super woman married to the perfect man, popping out perfect babies and still bringing home the bacon.
It wasn’t until my son was born that I discovered society’s expectations are a load of crap, and I didn’t have a shovel. We’re told we were given choices, that the feminist movement fought for our right to make decisions in our own best interests. But I wonder if this "rule" only pertains to making choices that society deems as valuable?
After Dawson was born, I went back to work full-time and instantly my colleagues deemed me "the Mommy" and I was treated differently. People were skeptical of my ability to be a mother and career woman.
After I became a stay-at-home mother people began to look at me differently. One woman actually asked me if I "gave up" my career to wipe noses all day. She was surprised, relieved even, to learn that I didn’t choose to be a SAHM, that a job loss had brought me to that place in my life.
But I wonder, if I had chosen to be an at home parent, does that make me any less valuable to society?
Which brings me back to Sarah Palin, mother extraordinaire.
Initially, I thought it was fabulous that a working mother was on the forefront of politics. Finally, society would see that women can be mothers and still have a career! Or would they? What if the bar is raised? If Sarah Palin can give birth and return to work the next day, what does that say about the women who don’t? How do we measure up?
I like Sarah Palin because she’s pro-life, and because she doesn’t act like a man when speaking her political mind. I like Sarah Palin because I can relate to her as a wife, mother and worker. But the similarities end there.
Sarah Palin hasn’t had to fight for maternity leave rights. She hasn’t had to lobby for equal pay, universal pre-K or universal health insurance. She doesn’t have to worry about where her children’s college tuition is coming from. She isn’t a single mother employed at Wal-Mart with four mouths to feed. She isn’t daydreaming about a fabulous job with benefits and the flexibility to be home with her children when they’re sick.
These are some of the issues important to me, and women like me. Sarah Palin, are you listening? Are you willing to fight on our behalf? Are you willing to stand up and represent women everywhere?