Saturday, December 13, 2008

Getting a Presidential Life: Relevant Politics and Family

A few notes on politics, family and "having a life."

Change is definitely coming:

As the transition creeps closer (and doesn't it feel like it is creeping?), Obama steadily makes his team selections, and is working on delivering on that promise of change, if only thus far in how we are hearing and interacting with this decidedly 21st century President-elect. First, he is harnessing the Internet like none other we have seen, and recasting the political landscape and spheres of influence. And perhaps most surprising in a democratic nation that had become decidedly jaded, he has invited us to the table to participate-and you don't have to call your representative to do so, just log on to He even has a defined and hugely ambitious plan ready to go, and it's only mid-December, and the other guy hasn't even vacated the corner office yet!

But then some things don't seem all that different, in fact, they are kind of familiar to all of us:

Barack and Michelle are readying their family to assume the mantle of the First Family, and the narrative could be about any person and family when dad takes a new big job, and the family has to relocate. But really not, because all of it is taking place in a huge rarefied fishbowl, in such a hyper focused manner. All the seemingly common decisions seem to delve to the roots of society's views on family, raising and educating the kids, and realizing a personal standard of happiness. Take the following examples:

  • You thought your PTA was rough? Try the Sidwell school PTA, where your fellow parents are political friends and foes alike. How do you handle friendship crisises, when the friend happens to be the child of a major political correspondent, key Senate vote, or even granddaughter of your VP?
  • Most wives and moms get advice from other women about how to adapt to the new neighborhood, or set of work colleagues, but in Michelle Obama's case, she gets to hear from Cherie Blair, wife of former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, as well as her husband's future Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. Not to mention that all media new and traditional scrutinizes your every move and its meaning for the status of women in the country.
  • It's not everyday that one willingly invites one's Mother-in-Law to move in with you. And she even gets a secret service name. That could get sticky.
  • Selecting a dog gets very complicated.
  • The landlord has strict guidelines about what you can and cannot do to your house.
  • Your parenting also gets scrutinized, such as weather your kids will do chores. And there are actual books about the subject of what it will be like for your kid growing up in this particular house.
  • You play the starring role in the Mommy Wars. While you work to set the standard of balanced family life as "Mom-In-Chief", the women on your husband's team, and other professionally accomplished women, resent the fact that they are expected to have "no life." Some say that it is just the way it is, so get over it, get to the top, and change it when you are there, and they kind of look down on you for deciding to shelve your career to be the First Mom. E tu sista?

It will certainly be an interesting four to eight years for family Obama, and us as well. Something tells me that Michelle Obama will have one interesting letter to add to the Mother Letter Project when this is all done, because she is just like all of us, but yet not. She'll definitely need some humor about the struggle to balance, so she might want to check out the motherhood balance lessons to be learned from the Wii, originally posted on MommyTrak'd. And you should to, it will make you chuckle.

For me, all is interesting in politics and family life and I look forward to the next several years!

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