As Thanksgiving approaches and I think about my peers and our relationships to our families, I’ve also been thinking a lot about our new First Family and what their gender roles will communicate to the Nation at-large. And how will Michelle Obama specifically change, or not change, the role of First Lady?
When asked in the past how I hope Obama will function as the next First Lady, I have expressed my desire for her to become the next Eleanor Roosevelt, but her recent commentary leads me to believe she’s going to be putting her career and/or any public service on the back burner for the indefinite future and put, who else, her kids (and husband?) front and center.
I recognize that child-rearing is an important pursuit and that I should respect Obama’s choices, but it still stings a little to see that it’s the woman, yet again, putting her career on hold for her husband’s. Not only that, I had hoped that a highly educated woman would realize (and popularize?) the options that exist beyond “Career OR Family.” But perhaps I shouldn’t completely mourn Obama’s purported decision. Perhaps, as she self-identifies as “Mom-in-Chief,” she will bring newfound recognition and much-needed attention to the role of Motherhood in the 21st century. Maybe she will become the figurehead for a much needed Mom Revolution and drum up public support for Social Security, federally funded child care, and medical benefits for moms and children! Maybe we’ll even get an ERA out of the deal! And maybe pipe dreams are fun. Hey, at this point, one can only dream, and hope for the best.
For one of the best op-eds I’ve read to date about Michelle Obama, the one that inspired me to throw in my 2 cents, check it here for Ruth Marcus’ 11-26-08 piece.