Women in the spotlight do a lot to promote women’s issues, particularly pushing the line between career and motherhood. There is no doubt that society in general, and attitudes towards motherhood specifically, are highly influenced by the actions and opinions of women that we see in the press. If you’re choosing to put yourself out there and go on record about child-rearing, motherhood, career and family … you’re opening yourself up to both praise and criticism. And I would hope that famous mothers would go on record in a one-of-the-sisterhood manner. Conceding that motherhood can be tough. And that the balancing act is tricky. Even more so if you cannot afford the paid help that many in the press can.
This is a series of posts about famous women and what they say about motherhood.
Compared to our first article about Gisele — Michelle Obama is a breath of fresh air. She’s honest and humble and she admits to being uncertain:
“Like any mother, I am just hoping that I don’t mess them up,”
I find Michelle Obama particularly likeable because she is a realist who doesn’t dance around the truth. She has held her husband accountable for the time that his career has taken him away from his family and talked about it publicly. She doesn’t seem to hold back in interviews and she seems to wear at least one of the pant legs in the relationship. In fact — she has even alluded to the idea that she is a single parent (which many have jumped down her throat for) — since her partner is so often away from the family.
“But we didn’t always live in the White House. And for many years before coming to Washington, I was a working mother, doing my best to juggle the demands of my job with the needs of my family, with a husband who has crazy ideas. “
She isn’t into the little-girl-helpless-princess mentality:
“As a mom, I know it is my responsibility, and no one else’s, to raise my kids. But we have to ask ourselves, what does it mean when so many parents are finding their best efforts undermined by an avalanche of advertisements aimed at our kids.”
She expects her kids to pull their weight:
“I want the kids to be treated like children, not little princesses. I told everyone that they should make their beds, they should clean their plates, they should act respectfully—and that if anyone on the staff sees differently, they should come to me,”
“Some staff members joke that they wish they could send their own children to Mrs. Obama’s boot camp for training.”
Michelle graduated from Princeton and then Harvard Law school, worked as an Associate at a law firm, an Assistant to the Mayor of Chicago, Associate Dean of Student Services at the University of Chicago and ended her tenure in Chicago as Vice President for Community and External Affairs for the University of Chicago Hospitals. At her last job she took baby Sasha to the interview (she couldn’t find a babysitter) and she was making $273k a year … twice what her husband was making as a senator at the time. So she’s no push over. She’s a mover and a shaker in her own right. She just happens to be overshadowed a little by her husband’s position. As such … she’s really into achievement and being a strong role model for her kids:
“I am an example of what is possible when girls from the very beginning of their lives are loved and nurtured by people around them. I was surrounded by extraordinary women in my life who taught me about quiet strength and dignity.”
Michelle certainly seems to have figured out a way to make the motherhood thing work for her. She knows what she needs — and she isn’t afraid to plan for it … but she also knows how to ask for help (as she once said in a speech):
“We have amazing resources and support systems here at the White House that I could have never imagined. Number one of them is having Grandmother living upstairs. We all need one of those.”
Michelle just seems like someone who is going to get exactly what she wants out of life … while making sure that everyone else is looked after too:
“When I get up and work out, I’m working out just as much for my girls as I am for me, because I want them to see a mother who loves them dearly, who invests in them, but who also invests in herself. It’s just as much about letting them know as young women that it is okay to put yourself a little higher on your priority list.”
Maybe I shouldn’t have reviewed Michelle Obama on Motherhood as the second entry in the series …. when I have so many others left to review! She’s an amazing person. She is an amazing role model for kids – for young girls …. and for mothers everywhere. I really can’t fault much here. I am interested to see where she takes her career next. Barack has had his turn at being the main career-person in the family. Will she taken another turn at work? Or will she decide that her time is better spent changing the world in other ways?
Check out my previous post about Gisele here: What have you done for Motherhood lately: Gisele