On the day of President Obama’s inauguration, when everyone in the world is eagerly anticipating stirring speeches and sparkly dresses, I can’t stop thinking about the First children—Malia Ann and Sasha Obama.
Here’s what I’m thinking: How can these two beautiful girls have a chance at being happy and balanced adults given their prominent role in American history? After all, they’re the offspring of America’s first black president, and it’s a big load to shoulder when you’re 8 and 10 years old.
I’ve been racking my brains for the past week trying to figure out what these children need most in the coming years, and the only answer I can stand behind is this: Their mother.
This conclusion goes against every grain in my feminist body. I’ve been taught to be a strong woman. An independent woman. I’ve internalized the notion that I can and should aspire to a successful career. I believe that women can be great and powerful leaders. And still, what I want Michelle Obama to accomplish in the next four years is to be a great mother to Malia and Sasha.
Should I bite my tongue and join the chorus of women who say that Michelle Obama can be as transformative and effective in the White House as her husband? Should I support her right to be anything she chooses—from doting mother to the pioneer of policy reforms?
But the truth is that what I want Michelle Obama to do in the White House is to be the “Mother of all mamas.” I want her show that world that American women don’t always choose work over family. I want her remind us that being present for our children when they come home from school really counts. I want her to urge Malia and Sasha not to ride on the coattails of their family’s success, but to struggle to figure out their own unique role in the world.
And most of all, I want her to explain that although their father was elected President, we still have to work towards the day when a woman holds that same title.
In short, I want Michelle Obama to be a great parent. Because we already know that she was a great lawyer and could achieve success in the working world again. But for once, I want to see a woman in the White House who can do just about anything, and still chooses to be a mother.
[NOTE: This entry is cross posted at www.laboroflove.typepad.com and at Deepak Chopra's site, Intent.com. The link there is: