by Meg Meeker, MD
As Sarah Palin strode onto the stage at the Republican National Convention, waving to admirers as a woman at an airport greeting a loved one returning from vacation, my eyes dropped to her little daughter beside her. She was beaming with excitement. But why? Was she as excited as the rest of us middle-aged career mothers about the prospect of her mom being the first woman to occupy a spot so close to the presidency? I don't think so. I think that she was wonderfully more focused on how she looked to everyone in her lovely green dress. Besides, even if she weren't, why would she care? Her world rotates around six people- her mother and father, sisters and brothers.
At once I felt guilty for being excited about the state of women'' political progress. What about this little girl's life, with her mother as VP? Did anyone ask her if she wanted to move to Washington? Or is even broaching the idea of asking heretical or sexist?
I'll bet no one asked her. But I would like to, because that's my job as a pediatrician- to ask kids what they think about things like changing bedrooms, schools and who makes their lunch. I ask because I struggle alongside every other working mother in America who daily utters guilt-assuaging platitudes in order to feel better about the gigantic juggle which no one seems to have adequately mastered.
I'd love to see a woman VP or president, but in light of the fact that Gov. Palin has small children (Chelsea's welfare didn't really count because she's grown) we must ask ourselves as career women, what about the little girl in the green dress? Who will care for her? I know, I've heard the pat answer- she will. Sarah, supermom, barracuda, the pit-bull in lipstick. Ugh. Now that puts the real pressure on women like me.
Let me offer a more sane solution, one which may be unpopular and misunderstood, but one which I believe would most benefit her beautiful children and our entire country: Mr. Palin. The Dad.
But are we, who champion women cracking through all glass ceilings really ready for that? Is America? (Again, Bill didn't count because, at least he was president before he was Hillary's numero uno fan.) I mean, are we really ready to support this candidate, regardless or our political affiliation, her family and most importantly- her husband -- in picking up the slack at home with the kids when she's in Beirut?
Or maybe it's the nannies, one for each kid, just like the Pitt-Jolies. Sorry, the mom-pediatrician in me revolts. I don't care who the nanny is, she isn't Mom and she most certainly isn't Dad.
So, the real question for Sarah's children is, did their mother marry a strong enough man? That is the question that may change the face of America. Because if she did, we could see fatherhood regain the stature and dignity it deserves. The governor's husband could be the spark that every man in the US needs right now to realize how desperately his children need him- not nannies, grandmothers or aunts. Kids need dads - real men who willing to selflessly enter the terrifying territory of parenting children with special needs and teens (even pregnant ones), helping with homework, talking to them about sex and keeping cyber bullies at bay.
If Gov, Palin and her family move onto the VP mansion in January, I have a hunch that more eyes will be on her husband than he may now realize.