Sorry. I can’t help myself. Sarah Palin is the most fascinating thing to happen to feminist discourse… well, ever. No one can stop talking about her, and the crazy part is, she makes everyone say the opposite of what they usually do. Hooray for Sarah! cry the women-should-never-leave-the-house Bible thumpers. Boo! cry the intellectuals on the coasts. She shouldn’t be leaving her children! It’s enough to make your head spin.
The thing that I feel obliged to speak out on, however, is the topic of HOW DOES SHE DO IT?
As Dahlia Lithwick pointed out on slate.com, Sarah Palin is dangerous because she does it all, and on steroids. Her water broke and she got on a plane. She took a 3 day maternity leave after Trig was born. She is undoubtedly a successful woman, but one without full-time help. Or, really, any hired childcare help. If she doesn’t need any, why should any of us commoners?
BUT HOW DOES SHE DO IT? everyone cries, in response.
I know how. I haven’t seen this explained anywhere. Maybe there aren’t any politicos out there who are the oldest of six children.
This is how Sarah Palin does it:
She has a mostly stay- at- home husband. But even more importantly, she has two teenage daughters.
I WAS a Palin girl. My mother had my youngest sibling when I was 19. I have been changing diapers since I was 7 and babysitting since I was 11. When I was growing up, if I was home, I was helping. When you have two teenage daughters, you can have a 6 year old and a baby and, apparently, run for VP, and not lose your mind. Because you DO HAVE HELP, and it’s 24/7.
I don’t mean to belittle my mother’s parenting skills in this. Quite the contrary. Life with 6 kids is a kind of busy most of us can only imagine. But while she didn’t have paid “help,” she had my grandmother living upstairs, and she had my oldest brother and me. That’s how she did it. At least there were other able bodies ready to assist.
And I’m pretty sure my mom would back me up here. How do I know? Because she was the oldest of 8. Because her youngest sibling was born when she was 20. So, Mom, if you’re reading this, can I get a hell yes? The world has been built on the backs of older sisters.
I hope that’s not ignored. I hope, if Palin becomes VP, there is a general understanding that while SHE can breastfeed her son during conference calls, and let Piper run around her offices, that is not a luxury that the woman working the french fries at McDonald’s has open to her. So just because Sarah Palin does it “without help” doesn’t mean that all working women don’t need and deserve affordable and safe child care.
Unless each mother in the US will be assigned two live-in teenage daughters. That could also work. And come to think of it, Bristol Palin should get a teenage daughter of HER own also. Her plate could be pretty full come January.