Friday, September 12, 2008

Losing Sleep

This post is something I have been considering for awhile now. I truly do not want to upset anybody, and so please know that I am writing this in complete sincerity and that this is truly coming from my heart as I have literally lost several hours of sleep thinking about this topic. In my opinion, this topic which I am about to discuss transcends political afflilations and affects our society as a whole. As always, I love comments- even if you disagree with me, and I believe this topic demands discussion, even if in American society it is deemed "politically incorrect" to do so.
The topic I would like to discuss is the Sarah Palin question- the question none of the reporters will ask, but as a mother I feel compelled to discuss. My friend Danielle posted an interesting article about how Palin may affect motherhood. Here is the link:
My concern comes from a greater depth than whether or not woman will lose their maternity leave- I am not so much concerned about that as I am about the choices Palin has made herself. I realize that she has excited the Republican base, and that certainly is exciting and wonderful. But, at what cost? As a stay-at-home-mom who gave up a career (which, by the way, I was very good at and had earned the respect of my colleagues, students, and their parents), and as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints who understands that motherhood is the most important role a woman can undertake (if you are not a member of the Mormon faith, we believe strongly that men and women have certain Godly qualities instilled in us, and as women, the greatest quality we have is that of nurturing and taking care of children), I am very concerned about a mother who would publically humiliate her 17-year-old daughter on national television and leave/neglect her 5 month old son with down syndrome to head on the campaign trail. Last night in her interview with Charles Gibson (yes, I did watch it), he asked if she had to think about whether or not she could be VP. Her response was something like (sorry I don't have the exact quote): I didn't hesitate- when he asked me, I immediately told him that if he thought I would help him win the ticket, I was ready for the task.
That answer once again kept me awake last night. She didn't stop to think about how this would affect her children, her family, her husband? Ben and I have to stop and think about how us going out to dinner and leaving Audra at Grandma and Grandpa's will affect her, let alone taking the second highest position in the world. By her actions, she is showing to me that being VP is more important than being a mother.
This is the Palin question that nobody is talking about: Can you be a good mother and a VP (and potential president)? What is more important as a woman- motherhood or power? For me, that is what it boils down to. For the last 150 years leaders of the Mormon faith have told us time and time again how critical it is that we, as women, be mothers first and foremost. I would guess most, if not all, of you reading this blog have either quit your job, scaled down your hours, turned down a promotion, or the like because you wanted to be a mom first. That is what we value- family. For most of our society, family comes first- not country. Consistently stay-at-home moms talk about being undervalued and unappreciated- I believe Sarah Palin threatens to undervalue us even more.
I truly am not trying to get into politics here. I simply have a very strong belief system that has been engrained in me through my religion and my family that is now being hindered/destroyed by a woman who is purposely choosing to put power over family. I know this sounds sexist and is politically incorrect. But I don't believe I am being a hypocrite- as I said earlier, I gave up a career, money, respect, and power to be a mom. I don't expect everyone else to make that same decision, but I value women who do. I believe being a mom first IS the most important thing, and I hold much more respect for stay-at-home moms than I do female CEO's or female diplomats. I feel the same way about Hilary Clinton- I don't respect her anymore than I do Sarah Palin for the personal decisions she has made, and for the record- I never liked her. In my heart of hearts, I believe it is a bad decision to seek the honors of the world over taking care of your children, regardless of your political affiliation.
There is so much more I could say. But, really, I just felt I needed to say something, because to me this is a much bigger issue than Republicans or Democrats. To me, this is about the sanctity of motherhood. As I said earlier, I would love to hear comments. I am totally OK with people who disagree, but let's just keep this respectful. I have tried to be respectful, and I hope you all realize that and can at least appreciate that even if you disagree. I do belive this is a big question, and so I really did feel that I at least needed to bring it up as something for all of us to think about. Thank you for reading this very long post, and I look forward to reading all of your thoughts on this subject!


  1. Just thought you should know that I just read a post from my cousin-in-law who works at Congress and he says that Palin keeps a crib in her office, takes her kids to work with her often, and ducks meetings when she has to because she makes it a practice to put her family first. Also, her husband is going to be a stay at home dad, which is a credit to him. I know it doesn't change your mind, but sometimes it helps to know more of the story. Also, I am glad that I have no idea what either of you are talking about in general since I haven't seen a single second about her here. Pretty soon I am going to have to do all of my research though.

  2. With all due respect.... Ha! You thought I was going to say something mean. Whenever people start with that phrase, the next thing that comes out will have no respect involved at all. Essentially, "with all due respect" is kind of an ironic way of saying that there is no respect due.

    Anyway, I can see where you are coming from, and I agree that perhaps Sarah Palin is seeking her political goals more than familial goals. However, I am sure she sees it as more of a temporary sacrifice of time with her family in order to break through a glass ceiling or some other tired cliche.

    At any rate, I blame the mud-slingers for the circus about Bristol more than Sarah Palin herself. I mean, come on. How scuzzy a person do you have to be to try to exploit a 17-year-old girl's poor decisions in order to discredit her candidate mom? No principles at all.

    Unfortunately, I think that the whole situation is doing exactly what the mud-slingers wanted in the first place: making other conservative women question the character of a candidate who was chosen specifically because she has so much in common with the moms across the country. And as a result, moms doubt if they want to actually vote for her.

    If someone refuses to vote for McCain/Palin, their opponents are satisfied. It doesn't matter if it is because of political beliefs or because a mud-slinging campaign made conservatives question a candidate's motivations or character. In the end, they have succeeded at their goal.

  3. I don't think mud-slingers have anything to do with it. I haven't seen anything about Palin being a woman and a mom as a problem (in fact, I am appalled that so many media outlets tout that she CAN do it all and have it all. I think, as a socail conservative, this is something that needs to be discussed more. I agree that the media didn't need to put Bristol on the front page of every major paper, but Palin knew that that would happen when she chose to run. That's what bothers me-she KNEW it would happen, but didn't seem to care.
    As a VP, I would say you can't be ducking meetings to go to your kids games, recitals, or whatever. As a VP, you have no choice but to put your job first. As a woman with young children, this puts Palin in a catch 22- either she puts her family first at the expense of her country, or she puts her country first at the expense of her family. When apostles are called to serve in the church, they are told that their duty as an apostle comes before their duty as patriarch of the family. Being a president or VP in my opinion is the same way. As a mom, I would never put myself in that position. It's great dad will stay at home, but we all know that nothing can replace a mom- and it is my opinion that those kids need a mom more than a VP. Maybe she should wait until the kids are older before she runs. Fair? Perhaps not, but that is my belief. Also, shuttling a 5 month old around the country really isn't fair to that kid- kids with special needs especially need stability.

  4. Oh, and Adam you are totally right-it's like saying, "I don't mean to be rude" or "Please don't be offended"- people are so funny sometimes:)
    And, Shells, I do appreicate your comments- it really would be interesting to know the "inner workings" of people- if only to be a fly on the wall to truly know what people are like...

  5. We all know that in our faith we are taught that it is best for our kids if we are stay at home moms, but others aren't like us and there are plenty of women who choose careers first and that is their decision.
    However, I will say that I have read and heard A LOT about how as a mom of five Palin should not run for V.P. because it will effect her children, so I do not think this issue is being ignored, and I know many men that prefer to stay at home with the kids and are very good at it.
    You are right, she will not be spending as much time with her kids, but I am sure that is an issue her husband and her kids have all discussed with her. Who knows, they could have had long detailed "What if?" conversations so when she was asked to be V.P. she was ready to answer yes. And, I'm sure Bristol knew what was going to happen and they discussed that as well. I couldn't do it, I long to be a stay at home mom full time, but that is their choice as a family and they seem to be making it work just fine.

  6. Steph- I do agree with you- mostly. You are absolutely right that she has the choice to do with her life whatever she wants- every woman has that choice, that is what is so great about America. My fear, however, and the reason that I can not sleep at night, is that in my opinion, this choice that she is making on such a large stage when she has such small children, undermines the work mothers do and the sacrifices women have made to put family first. That really does scare me- to me, it is sending a message to all of America and the rest of the world that power is more important then family. You can disagree with me, but that is what I believe. Now, by saying that I can not oppose her because of that belief, is to me like saying that I cannot be pro-life (which I am) or anti-gay marriage (which I am) because those are beliefs and that is how people choose to live their lives. I have tried to make this a NON- political debate, because in my mind this isn't about politics, it is about motherhood and the importance of motherhood (or lack thereof) in our society. She certainly has the right to do with her family what she wants- my fear is that women across the country will idoloize her as a hero, when in my opinion (and this is just my opinion, nothing more), what she is doing is undermining the true essence of women- being a mother. I hope that makes sense...

  7. I have been reading your blog every now and then since you emailed everyone your new address. It has been fun! I normally don't comment, so this is rare!

    I read your post and everyone's comments and was not going to add anything to it. Then I went to vacuum the family room floor so I could fold two loads of laundry on it. I do my best thinking while I am cleaning and I kept thinking of this post and the comments.

    I see your point of view, Christina, and everyone else's. First let me just say that I read the article that was linked and it irriated me that people were concerned about not being "safe" enough with her birth control at her age. My last two children were conceived while I was on two different forms of birth control and I can attest that if Heavenly Father wants a child born, it will happen! And that is why my tubes are tied!

    I also wanted to share my point of view on this whole Sarah Palin topic. Being a mom of two special needs kids, I was estatic that she is nominated to be VP and really hope that they win. There were tear drops falling out of my eyes, and even Nathan's which was very rare, when she mentioned in her acceptance speech during the convention that she will be an advocate for special needs children and that we had a friend in her. Amazing! We hope that to be true. Granted, the little boy is still a baby and she won't have to fight the schools for five more years, but we are hoping that she will create new ways to make it easier for us parents to get what our kids need therapy-wise.

    If I had the chance to be in her position, I would take it too. She will have the best care for her kids and I think that ultimately she was thinking about that. She won't have to fight for her son as much as we do. Her job will be made easier because she won't have to spend as much time trying to get her son what he needs. Believe me, that eats up too much of my day. And she has an incredible husband who is willing to step in for her for a few short years.

    One more thing, because I know this is getting long, but I have one more point of view to make. I love my kids more then anything but love to get a break from them at the same time. Some moms need a break every once in a while during the month and some moms need a break for 9 hours out of their day to be a better mom. I believe it is "to each their own". What works for me doesn't work for my sister who thrives on her work and is a better mom when she comes home, and vice versa. I couldn't do it because of my kids but there are so many working moms out there doing it. Some have to work to provide food on their table and some do it because they feel accepted and acknowledged, which some stay-at-home moms don't get at times.

    I never knew a comment could be this long! Like I said, it is rare for me to comment on a blog. I hope this was respectful and in no way demeaning! You are a great friend and I wouldn't want to jeapordize that! Alright, now I need to fold some laundry! :)

  8. I don't normally comment on blogs either, this is Curt! I enjoy your blog posts about the candidates. And I have to say I agree on the "don't mean to sound rude" comment. In my line of work I have to teach salespeople not to preface their sales pitches with "Let me be honest with you..." or "In my honest opinion..." as if their normal behavior is not honest. Anyway, about Sarah Palin...if you want to see all the media dirt and mud slinging, watch NBC News, MSNBC, CNN,, The Daily Kos, and a boat load of other networks. They've all discussed the fact that she is not a good parent. However, that has backfired and McCain Palin are now leading in the polls, when Obama should clearly be leading after 19 months and nearly 100 million dollars spent on ads and campaigning. So they've backed off a bit. In my opinion, the problem that people have with Sarah Palin is because she is a conservative woman doing what liberal women have fought years for. She is in a position to accomplish what liberal women have been working years to empower women to choose for themselves, to shatter the "glass ceiling," to get equal rights for women, yada yada yada...All these years they waited for a liberal woman to break down those barriers. And it hasn't happened yet and now there is a conservative woman with a chance to break down those barriers that the "world" believe exist. And let's face it, those barriers exist largely because of conservative values. So Sarah Palin not only empowers conservative women, she empowers all women to be able to live freely the way they choose is best for them and their family. Obviously our LDS values cannot and should not be enforced by you can rest easy knowing that because we live in America nothing including ONE woman on a large stage can have a lasting effect on our LDS family values. Because "no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing..." Not Obama, McCain, Palin, or Hillary. You're right, this does transcend political affiliations, because very few conservatives have questioned the fact that Joe Biden was sworn into office in the intensive care unit while his two boys were severely injured and days after their mother died. He chose country over family and is championed for it. Or how about the fact that Barack and Michelle Obama both hold full time jobs...nobody is questioning Michelle Obama on her ability to fill her obligations as a mother. Perhaps it shows a certain strength of character to raise a family of 5 including a special needs child AND have a successful career. Which takes more skill and strength, raising one or two healthy normal children and balancing a full time career or doing that with 5 including one with downs? Also, she didn't put her daughter through any humiliating circumstances. Parents should not live their lives differently because a child has made a bad mistake. Her daughter humiliated herself by getting pregnant. The fact she has an unwed pregnant daughter (who is engaged at least) has no bearing on her ability as a parent. LDS Family services exists to support good families who's children make mistakes. Mistakes of our children should not alter the course of our lives as parents. I'm glad you haven't seen all of the smear tactics by the extreme left wing bloggers, like photoshopped pictures of Sarah Palin's head on a gun toting bikini clad woman posted on the Daily Kos, or others calling her bad names as a result to her referencing herself as a pit bull with lipstick during the RNC, or how about the false claims that her youngest child was actually birthed by her daughter Bristol and she's covering for her daughter. All of the negative publicity about Sarah Palin is only helping the republicans because some women are starting to feel sorry for her.

    Anyway, keep up the blogging...I won't always leave comments this long! Hope you're enjoying your new home.

  9. Here are my final thoughts on this: Sarah Palin is not dying, she is running for VP. She will still be an active part of her family. The campaign trail is brutal, but for her, at most 5 months long, and being the VP is A LOT less work than being the President. I know that nothing "replaces" a mother, but millions of people do not have moms, have terrible moms, don't have dads or both, and they find ways to survive, just a thought. In my opinion, dads as important as moms, so having a dad willing to devote himself 100% to his family is terrific. I think all that Sarah said about her daughter was that she was disappointed in her, I would be disappointed too if my daughter was pregnant.

    Lastly, many of our Presidents (notably JFK) had children while in office, or had young children they were raising while in office. I don't see how this is that much different.

    My perspective is different. I am a working mom, who chooses to work. I love my kids and am devoted to my family. I am not and will not ever be running for public office because of the strain it would put on me and my family. That isn't worth it to me. But I don't see any problem with another woman doing it.

  10. You're a brave woman, Christina - props to you.

    I'm a raging liberal, so I won't comment too much, but let's just say that you are not alone in your thoughts. The bottom line is that I don't think someone like Sarah Palin (or John McCain for that matter) could represent me well, as a mother, woman, or human, we are polar opposites in what we believe.

  11. Since I appear to have started this whole insomniac thing, I thought I should at least weigh in here...
    Chris - one thing I have noticed about you is that you are a "black and white" kinda gal, who is also uncompromising. This is not a bad thing, it just doesn't fit in politics, as far as I can see anyway. My biggest issue with politics is that I have a hard time seperating personal feeling (ideology) with political issues. The thing my attorney-husband is always trying to drill into my head is "seperation of church and state." So, going along with this theory, we are not allowed to judge her as a leader by her personal choices (I guess?). Something that struck me from the 2004 election that I keep thinking about in all of this was a loose quote by John Kerry. Basically when asked about abortion he said that he personally does not believe it is right, but that he was not willing to enforce his personal/religious beliefs upon America because that was not his job as a leader. Agree or disagree, I thought it was a powerful statement from a kinda wimpy guy. I guess when it comes to November, we have to all really look inside ourselves and try to decide who is best suited to run the country. It's not an easy thing, and I am left scratching my head a lot, but one thing I know is that I have to base my vote on more than one issue (that said to all the people out there who vote strictly on the abortion question). I can't decide how I feel about Sarah Palin. Politically, I think she is a bit inexperienced (that may be an understatement) and while I don't question, so much, her role as a vice president, I DEFINITELY question her ability to pinch-hit as LEADER of the Nation. In the end, where her kids are concerned, I'm glad she has a supportive husband. I think loving Dads who are devoted to their kids are just as capable at raising children as Moms. A lot of days I am pretty sure Jason would do a better job than me (at least at the unconditional love and nurturing part). Since having Nathan, I discovered something about myself that I had previously not considered: I was unable to fully walk away from my job. I have compassion for working women because of this. I know that not everyone out there can do it 24/7 without totally hating it or resenting it or feeling totally lost and invisible. My issue is this concept of the "super woman" who can do it all without consequence - that is what I don't believe in. So who knows. I guess I have decided, to make a long story short, that this Sarah Palin issue has to be decided on politics and politics alone. I think we have to stay out of her house, so to speak, since honestly, I wouldnt' want the whole nation in mine. The end. And by the way, thanks for posting about this. I think we all have to get this stuff out because we (women) are the reason they probably picked her in the first place.

  12. See, I knew there would be a lot of thoughts on this comment:) Very fun reading- honest!!! I'll post something much lighter a little later- it is actually refeshing to see that people care about what is going on in the world- that makes me very happy:) Of course, there are many factors that are contributing to this election, and massive smear campaigns (unfortunately) on both sides- I am excited about the debates because then maybe the candidates will actually talk about ISSUES- should be fun!!!! But, I am glad that we were able to discuss The Palin Question- it certainly won't go away (and in my opinion shouldn't), so we will have to just wait and see how this all turns out in the end!

  13. I have enjoyed reading all the posts and appreciate a forum to discuss these issues respectfully. Like Christina, I was a successful teacher and left it to be a full time mom to my very active two year old. For me this was the best decision. However, I think dads can and do a wonderful job as primary care givers. This is my main point though: I AM GRATEFUL TO BE LUCKY ENOUGH TO LIVE IN A SOCIETY THAT ALLOWS THE CHOICE!!! So many don't have this privilege. I just finished a thousand Splendid Suns about women in Afghanistan and it is deplorable the lack of rights for women in parts of the world. I think when possible that one of the parents needs to be there for their kids at all times when they are young. My feelings are for my family that I am the best person to help my spirited boy master his strong feelings. Motherhood has not come naturally to me. My mom raised 8 kids and I have no idea how she did it. One child is really proving to test my wits. Teaching was so much easier then this but for me not as important as being a mother.

    On to Palin. I watched the interview with Charlie Gibson also and was struck on how condescending he was to her. There was a feeling of animosity of how dare you run.This partisanship made me mad until I watched Gibson's interview with Obama. Gibson is equal opportunity. He interviewed Obama with some of the same edge calling him out on his statement on Israel's capital being Jerusalem and that it should not be divided. This is quite an inflammatory statement and Obama was unsuccessfully back peddling out of it. I think that Palin should be asked tough questions. I think that who ever said that the glass ceiling is a cliche' is right about the phrase but not about the purpose. A women in the white house! That is about as un cliche' as it gets. I don't want just any women in though. Palin delivered a great speech but my verdict on her experience is not in. Obama is the same for me. Both are so articulate though and I love that. I also love that Obama would restore diplomacy to the world like Clinton did. Not that we should be appeasers but that we should actually have good representatives out there. For example to have a German ambassador actually speak German.(One example of bad diplomacy with the Bush administration). I think of myself as an independent. I am in the process of making a list from the candidates stance on issues from their websites and voting. Oh and I am in the picture with Christina in front of Bush talking in Provo. He is so more articulate if you don't give him a script. I thought he spoke well that day but get him in front of a TelePrompter or when he does that awful laugh smirk and I want to throw up.

  14. I definitely agree that all of us are in a MUCH better situation now that we all have the choice to make the decisions that are best for our families. And,honestly, I HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO PROBLEM WITH WOMEN WHO WORK IN THE WORK FORCE!!! I think like 60% of moms work, and if all those women left, this countries' economy would be worse then under the Bush Administration (if at all possible!!!) The problem that I see is the implications that arise from a mother choosing POWER over her family, at the EXPENSE of her family, and it is obvious to me by her actions that that is what she is choosing (obviously, some disagree, and that is fine). That is a HUGE difference from all of the women I know who work part time, or make sure to take advantage of their maternity leave (Palin took 3 days before going back to work), or on the weekends devote all of their time to their families, or take sick days to go see their kids plays (not saying you should take your sick days, but a lot of women do because they want to be there for their kids). As a VP you have to be in Russia one day and Argentina the next- your life IS your country/job, at the expense of your family. And when you have 4 kids under the age of 18, I think that is a very bad choice, and if we start putting women on pedastals who make those choices, I think it will compel more women to seek power, money, promotions, over the sanctity of the family, and that will just erode our society more.
    This is just one of the MANY pieces, in my mind, that are chiseling away at the family.But, please note: WOMEN WORKING IS NOT THE ISSUE FOR ME!!!! The issue for me is that a woman with four kids under the age of 18, one a newborn, is seeking out the second most time consuming powerful job in the world and we are applauding it as if it a great thing to leave your family for the work force, which all of us know is not true.

  15. Well said, Mandy- you should really post that comment on your blog so more people will read it. I love your thoughts (and for those of you who don't know Mandy, her dad really does have more experience than Palin has he has been a politician in Idado his whole adult life).

  16. Looking forward to Saturday....we can discuss more then.