So Bristol is pregnant. After the big announcement on the opening day of the Republican National Convention, I wasn't surprised that on Monday morning talk radio was all abuzz about it. I have to tell you, after the teenage years I had, I am not for visiting the sins of a daughter on her mother. My high school and college years were filled with activities my mother neither encouraged, facilitated, nor was aware of. Her daughter's pregnancy is certainly not Sarah Palin's fault.
I can't help wondering though, about the parental wisdom of thrusting a pregnant teenager into the national spotlight and under the unrelenting scrutiny of the media. As most parents know, parenting is filled with sacrifices. Most mothers know, many of those sacrifices are ours. While the offer of being number two on a presidential ticket is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, we also get only one opportunity to do right by our children.
I hope it was at least a difficult decision for Governor Palin to run considering the impact on her daughter. I hope her daughter's pregnancy was not considered a bonus in the fight for the conservative, pro-life vote. That would be a terrible gamble that will never pay.
That being said, if the reports are true that the mother of five has been criticized in the media for running for office (I have not heard or seen any such criticism.), then I would have to join the RNC chants decrying journalists and reporters. Being a mother and trying to thrive in a career is no easy feat. Any woman who chooses to undertake those responsibilities has my admiration. Anyone who criticizes her, earns my eternal loathing.
Just choosing to be a mother can derail a woman's career. Taking six months of maternity leave can make the difference between being assigned choice projects resulting in advancement, and stagnation. That's a factor of many women's decision to have a child. It is not generally a thought for men.
My husband is a great dad. He is an active participant in his sons' care and I am grateful to have him as a partner. As with most couples I know though, medical appointments, school conferences, birthday parties, homework assignments, and other activities have become primarily my responsibility. On this day, at this time, that arrangement is ok for me. There have been moments though when I have had to decline invitations and assignments because of my maternal responsibilities and I have truly resented it. I didn't resent my children - or my husband. I resented that I had to make the choice. To face those often difficult choices and then be criticized by the stay-at-home brigade has always been disheartening to say the least.
These days I read articles in Fortune, Business Week and Working Mother that indicate that Corporate America is changing to take better advantage of the talent and expertise that working mothers bring to the work place. Shared jobs, telecommuting, flexible hours and onsite childcare are becoming more commonplace. Those are all good things, but the thing that needs to change most is our attitudes about women and parenting. I want the day to come when a mother is no more likely than a father to be asked about how she intends to juggle parenting and work. Better than that, I look forward to the day when the response of most women will be, "my husband is actually the primary caretaker."