To read about F's and my London trip, start here and click "newer post" to continue the story.

Monday, September 01, 2008

I have some thoughts related to the revelations of the weekend.

I want to address the idea that having a baby with Down syndrome, and now as it turns out a pregnant daughter, means that Sarah Palin should not have accepted the VP spot on the ticket.

Women have babies. It happens all the time, and it's a good thing too, because that's how the race struggles on. Thank you Captain Obvious, right? Well, apparently it isn't so obvious to some people. They seem to see childbirth as almost an exotic event, a major interruption in a woman's life, not part of the normal process that a woman goes through (if she has children) between her own birth and death. They seem to think that when a woman has a baby then her previous life needs to shut down and contract until it consists ONLY of caring for that child. I've seen that before from extreme conservatives, like the Baptist church in Arkansas (I think) that abruptly closed its daycare because kids need to be home with their mommies, leaving those mommies who had to work to put food on the table scrambling. It's as if a woman stops being a person in order to be a mommy. I didn't expect this attitude of the "progressives" though. So although Gov. Palin took her baby with her when she went back to work (when you're the boss you can do as you please) and although she has a husband, Trig's daddy no less, who can care for him too; and although people have hired nannies and such since the dawn of time, and although special-needs kids sometimes benefit very strongly, once they reach toddlerhood, from going to preschool with their age-mates; she apparently is a bad mother if she doesn't shut her life down and do nothing but care for her child 24/7, and you see this on the "progressive" sites if you can hold your nose long enough to look at them. (Except this one. The sexism irritates them as much as the sexism about Hillary irritated me, although they don't want to see Palin win any more than I wanted Hillary to.)

My mother grew up on a farm in Mississippi. Her mother and the kids all had to work in the fields. When you have a farm, time waits for no man nor woman. Cotton gets ready to pick and you must pick it, and so forth. When there was a baby (and there were eight) my grandmother would put it in a wheelbarrow with some toys and things, and wheel it to wherever they were going to work that day, and park the wheelbarrow under a shadetree. Everyone from toddlers on up had to work. I imagine that if someone tried to explain to my grandmother that when she had a baby its care was supposed to completely subsume her life she'd have thought they were an idiot. How could it? The family would not have survived.

And she didn't resent having all those kids. My mom remembers her older sister telling her mother she should have used birth control (some nerve, huh?). My grandmother invited her to pick out which of her sibs she wanted not to have been born.

But if my grandmother had had the opportunity to live in a nice, air-conditioned house, with a husband who didn't think it was not his place to do some childcare, or to hire a nanny, or to put her kid in a bright, comfortable, child-centered daycare, she'd have jumped at the chance.

I am amazed at people who want this country not to have a Vice President Palin simply because she has children to care for.

I remember that during Reagan's presidency, Bush Senior felt a bit frustrated at his largely ceremonial role as VP. He had represent the USA at a bunch of state funerals and he said, "I'm George Bush. You die, I fly." People act like when you're VP you're locked in a box 24/7 for four or eight years. I just don't think it's that strenuous a job. Ah, but if McCain dies she'll be President. Well, I think the most recent President we've had die in office was JFK back in 1963. It could happen, of course, but it's far from a certain thing. And speaking of JFK: he had small children when he was President and no one batted an eye. Aren't we past all that sexist crap yet?

It's also argued that McCain shouldn't have picked her, although he thought she was right for the spot, because Bristol did what teenagers have done since the dawn of time, and let biology take over. I am utterly unclear on the relevance here. People are accusing the Palins of being hypocrites about "family values". To me, that phrase means that you take care of your family, which the Palins have indicated that they have every intention of doing.

As to the rumors that had to be put down, all I'll say is that I hope to God that Bristol hasn't been surfing the net this weekend. I think about her reading that stuff, and I think about my F, and it makes me sick. I'd wondered, when I saw her face in the pictures this weekend, why she looked so tense and unhappy; and put it down to her age and so forth. Caught a glimpse of her on TV when her story came out and she looked so relieved. Poor little thing, she probably feels that she really let her mother down. Well, Bristol, life goes on, and this is exactly how it does.

1 comment:

Mrs. Who said...

Excellent post and observations...especially about the historical vs. modern view of having a child.

And I love your Grandma!