You're dammed if you do. You're dammed if you don't. Especially if you're Michelle Obama.
If Michelle Obama had said that she was going to get a high-powered job in Washington, she'd be getting a bunch of slack from the at-home mom consortium about how she was neglecting her children through a difficult transition from Chicago to the White House. But because she said that she was going to be the "mother in chief," she is getting slack because she is sending the message "that high-level paid work and motherhood don't mix, or that women need to be the ones to step down to care for family," according to Maggie Jackson's November 30 column in the Boston Globe.
Can't people just do what they want to do? If she wants to be home to help her young girls through the transition, then she should be able to make that choice in peace. If she wants to eventually go back to work, then she should also be able to make decision in peace. Jackson wrote that, "Obama's controversial message deserves some dissecting, for it's one that our daughters and sons are hearing, too." Yes, I know that she's a public figure and every choice she makes as a woman or parent or wife will be dissected and analyzed until the original goal and her original intention is no longer recognizable. But, I suspect -- and maybe I'm going out on a limb here -- that she is just trying to make the right choice for herself and her marriage and her kids. Period. I doubt there is any hidden message or agenda. I doubt she is speaking for all women or all parents or all wives or all mothers. Jackson wrote: "To hear her try to distance herself now from that role (as a highly successful working mother) does a disservice to our children - and to our country."
Does it really have to mean that much to so many people? Can't it just be about a woman and her family? Does her choice really have to be the reflection of where women are in the world or the workforce or whether they are trapped under a glass ceiling or whether they are oppressed by their husbands or whether they are ambitious enough or if they are sending the right message to our sons and daughters?
And is she really doing a disservice? I'm sure her kids don't see it as a disservice. I'm sure her husband does not see it as a disservice. I'm sure he's grateful that she is willing to sacrifice her own career for a little while to be with their kids. He is going to be pretty darn busy in his new job and I'm sure he's grateful that his children will have some normalcy in their newly-chaotic and very public lives. Does her choice have to be a bad thing? Is is wrong for our sons and daughters see an educated women want to be with her kids for a period of time? If so, then many of the women I know are also sending the wrong message to their own sons and daughters and to their communities. I'm surrounded by highly educated women with all kinds of degrees who are at home with their kids. I'm also surrounded by women who work hard and have their kids in daycare.
It seems to me that this article is just trying to ignite the war (once again) between working parents and non-working parents. Her husband was just elected to be President of the God-Damned United States of America for Christ's sake. It seems to me that Jackson is just trying pick open a scab to get the bleeding to start again. Why are we trying to say that one choice is better than another choice? This old war between working parents and non-working parents is nothing but a reason to argue. One is not better than the other. I think we should focus on more important things, like the fact that our county is going to be a better place simply because Barack and Michelle Obama are in the White House, regardless of whether Michelle is in a playroom with her girls or in a conference room with her colleagues.