July 06, 2009

Another Working Mom Bites the Dust....?

Hopefully by now everyone has heard that Gov. Sarah Palin has decided to resign as Governor of Alaska. Taking over at the end of this month will be Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell. News reports state that her decision was made after she decided not to run for re-election and motivated in part by a "higher calling." What that higher calling is, who knows, maybe hopes for a higher office in 2012?

Whatever her decision, she made a reference to some mean spirited comments made about her youngest son, Trig. Why any person would make mean comments about any child, especially one with down syndrome, is beyond me and appalling. But here is my question. Would a father resign from the highest political office in his state and site mean spirited comments towards his child as part of his reason? Even if it's a tiny part? I think not. Is this a decision that only a working mom would use? I think yes.

Palin's story makes me question whether a woman can be accomplished in her career and a happy parent all at the same time? Regardless of your career, whether it's an attorney making partner at the firm, teacher turned principal, real estate agent turning broker, it seems like once you move up your career ladder, the consequences it has on your family are great. As a result, many women seem to retire or step back from her high demanding job.

Is this always the case for working moms, or is it just sometimes the case? What do you think?

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Nerd Girl said...

It is hard for me to sympathize with Palin. Honestly, I'd probably be a lot more empathetic had it been anybody else. But since it's not...surely she understood when she ran for GOVERNOR that she would have to sacrifice time with her family - including her 5 children. It's not like getting a promotion from cashier to head cashier. Come on. I mean, there are jobs which sound absolutely lovely, are right up my alley, in line with my education, etc., etc. that I do not apply for because I know they will require more sacrifice that I can or am willing to make. I think S. Palin set women back with this decision - too many people already think women can't do/handle high profile positions, and this case strengthens their argument. She shoulda stayed on her porch, gazing at Russia. Okay, I'm done raving. She really chaps my hide. In case you couldn't tell...

Felicia (aka Mommy B) said...

What a great topic, and one that I think we've all struggled with at one point. In my opinion -- and this is how it's been for me at every level of my work -- it's very difficult to find a happy balance between work and family. You always want to strive for the next level of your career, but the more you take on at work the more you miss at home, it's a fact of working life.

I've been fortunate that the creative field is pretty laid-back. I can come and go as I please, wear what I want and my husband and I are very blessed to have my mother in-law close by who watches the kids while we both work. BUT even with all the help and flexibility I've missed special moments and dropped the ball on a few things simply due to the fact that I had to work.

And nothing ever alleviates the Mommy-guilt of not being there. I can understand Palin's decision, especially if her kids were being impacted so severely, but at the same time I think the choice to step down will hurt her in many ways. It's not fair because a man would never be expected to choose,and most would not.

Justice Jonesie said...

Very well said ladies! Nerd Girl, tell us how you really feel!! LOL.

Peter and Nancy said...

I wonder if she hadn't chosen to run for VP (which, frankly, she seemed ill-qualified for) if she would be feeling this level of stress . . .

I think one of the biggest lies told to young women is that you can have it all, all at the same time. I wish someone had the guts to tell me while I was in college about careers that are more family-friendly. (I have friends who are nurses who work only 2-3 days per week and make more than my full-time non-profit salary was.) Everyone at universities is too afraid of being un-P.C., though, to share that info with women and men.

I was fortunate after my first son was born -- my employer agreed to let me keep half my job, some of which I could do from home (since it was very computer-oriented). Now with 3 kids, however, that totally doesn't work! And with my husband's screwy schedule, we decided to have me home full-time.

Palin has taken a pretty big beating about her daughter, not to mention Trig . . . that can't have been easy. But I think there's more to the story of her quitting. We'll find out, I'm sure.
-- Nancy

Justice Ny said...

I actually don't think that Mrs. Palin quit because of her family. I believe there's a lot more to this story that will unfold in the weeks/months ahead. It's sad though that she's using her family as her reason (more so, excuse). If it turns out that there were other reasons for her decision, she should be ashamed that she made it out to be because of her family.

But, it is an interesting and un-answerable question - can we really balance it all? I know that I can't. I've accepted that. But, although I look at some ladies advancing in their careers with some jealousy, I also look at the fact that they don't have families - more so kids - and I imagine that they are quite possibly looking at us (working moms)with some level of jealousy too.

I think it's impossible and as Nancy said, it is/was one of the biggest lies that we were told.

Sugar Jones said...

I thought Palin's choice to tell the public that the reasons for stepping down included her children was a huge mistake. First of all, because nobody will take her seriously if she goes for any other political office. Second, she really set all of us back. If that was the truth and she wasn't just playing on our sympathies, she might have taken into consideration keeping that to herself so as not to have caused us to have this conversation yet again.

I know so many couples that struggle when the mom gets the promotion. It's great at first, but the burdens of the home don't ever seem to be divided to make room for the new responsibilities that the wife has had to take on at work.

I really wish Sarah would just exit stage left. And I'm not even a democrat.

suddenly sahm said...

I am done trying to convince myself that I can have it all at the same time. Maybe some women in some industries can, but personally, I can't. It's a damn bitter pill when it finally goes down.

Elizabeth said...

It took a heart attack at 43 to make me realize I could not live the lie about having it all - family time and career growth. My type A consulting career and 2 little kids, and a working husband (many of the senior women in my firm have WAHH or SAHH), no time for exercise life did not produce a satisfactory outcome!
I simplified my job, asked more of my working husband, and added exercise. I put me and my health first now, so I can have a long life with my family.
I truly hope Sarah Palin looked at her newest baby and realized she was not going to know him and grow him if she kept going out on the political trail. But I don't think we will ever know until her personal story is published and available for $19.95 at a retailer near you.

Cristina said...

First of all, I don't buy Sarah Palin's comments regarding Trig at all. She seems to have no problem using her children in whatever manner possible to either get attention (see my post re: the Palin/Letterman flap), provide excuses, or pander to a certain audience. And I agree that her mere existence in the public eye -- from being a lightweight VP candidate cynically selected to appeal to wome to her fickle, irresponsible decision to quit -- sets us all back.

As for whether being a working mom is more challenging the higher up you get, absolutely. Time demands grow, and I think women uniquely feel that "mommy guilt" and hear and internalize that criticism of "choosing" to be away from their children that men just don't seem to experience. (See my post on the demonization of Kate Gosselin.)

My hope is that eventually, we experience true equality, meaning that mothers and fathers face the same issues and challenges and that it isn't automatically expected that work/life balance is a mothers issue.

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