John McCain’s appointment of Sarah Palin as his V.P. pick has incited a lot of controversy. Everything from Palin’s policy views to her choice of wardrobe has been debated as nauseum, and while all these conversations have been both intriguing and exciting nothing has been quite as polarizing as the “Mommy Wars” debate.
This is not a new debate. The Mommy Wars refer to the old battle between working mothers and stay at home mothers, each who believe their choice is best. However, Sarah Palin has certainly caused this ever simmering debate to boil to the surface of society. Ever since Palin accepted the nomination the air has been buzzing with
“can she handle it?”
“she has so much going on at home”
“of course she can handle it, this shouldn’t even be an issue – would we ask this of a man?”
I am not a mother, so I suppose it could be argued that I don’t have a leg to stand on in this debate, but regardless I can’t help but weigh in. As a daughter of a working mother, I know first hand that having a mother who worked was a blessing, an inspiration and a source of pride throughout my childhood. I grew up in an upper class Connecticut suburb where working mothers were the exception, not the rule, and while there were times when I wish that my mother had been there to pick me up at school or bake cupcakes for my 5th grade class, overall I saw no downside to her having a job.
I do not like what Sarah Palin stands for politically and certainly do not support her candidacy for Vice President. However, I resent the fact that many are dismissing her candidacy because “she has too much going on at home.” There are many reasons not to support Sarah Palin for VP, but her family is not one of them. Balancing work and family seems to be something that Palin has done her entire adult life. Her husband has acted on and off as a stay at home dad, and for the most part her children seem to be happy and well adjusted. Yes, her daughter Bristol is pregnant, but that is due to Bristols actions, not Palins job. There are many teenagers of both working and non working mothers who find themselves in Bristol’s situation, so to place that on Sarah Palin seems not only unfair but ridiculous.
On the matter of her sons Special Needs, I am a bit conflicted. Down Syndrome is not an easy diagnosis and I do believe that Trig’s needs will most likely be above and beyone most infants’. However, Sarah Palin has to make her own choices on this matter. Would it be better were she to stay home and attend early intervention therapy with her son? Maybe, but perhaps she feels she could better serve him by being in a position to advocate for his needs by producing legislation for special needs children. It truly is a toss up.
There is a problem with the “a woman can have it all” mentality, precisely because it’s untrue. No one can have it all. In life we all have to make choices when it comes to work, life, family and relationships. We are constantly prioritizing. One has to decide what is most important. Decisions have to be made as to what smaller things can be sacrificed for the “big dream” and one’s overall happiness.
Sarah Palin could have turned down John McCains offer, but then would this ambitious woman have gone through the rest of her life unsatisfied; constantly thinking “what if?” Surely an unhappy unsatisfied stay at home mom is not better than a fulfilled working mom, nor is an overburdened stressed out working mom better than an adjusted and content stay at home mother. I guess, like most things, the Mommy Wars comes down to the individual involved. We’re all different. We have different aspirations and different ideas of how we can be our best selves and in turn be the best support system for the friends and family surrounding us. So please lets just call a truce on the “Mommy Wars.”