I’m seriously coveting Marian Robinson.
Certainly you know who Marian Robinson is, President-Elect Barack Obama’s mother-in-law who he called the “unsung hero” of his campaign, the 71-year-old retired bank secretary who, for years, has picked up Obama’s girls from school and driven them to their extra-curricular activities, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. For the past two years, while Barack and Michelle Obama were campaigning and traveling the country, Marian Robinson was home in Chicago, taking care of 7-year-old Sasha and 10-year-old Malia. “We couldn’t have done it without her,” Barack Obama told 60 Minutes.
Now, word is that Marian Robinson is likely moving to the White House along with the Obama family, after Michelle Obama “begged” her mom to accompany them.
As I listened to Barack and Michelle Obama talk about the First Grandma on 60 Minutes and read the stories about their reportedly comfy family dynamic, I found myself wishing that I had a Marian Robinson too. Then I remembered that column by Lisa Belkin from the New York Times a few years back which suggested that what every working woman really needs is a wife to help her. Since the Big Love kinda life of multiple wives isn’t something most of us will be pursuing any time soon, wouldn’t the next best thing -- aside from finding paid help which costs a small fortune -- be to have a selfless grandparent like Robinson around to give we hyper-busy working parents a hand with our children?
I certainly wouldn’t be nearly as stressed out as I am if I had a retired mother (or mother-in-law) who was ready, willing and able to help cart the kids around to their activities (football, soccer, skating lessons, baseball, after-school programs, birthday parties, playdates), to care for them on school half-days and snow days and to provide an assist with the homework assignments. Just the other day, I was trying tackle various work-related projects of my own, when my 10-year-old daughter had to be picked up from her after-school cooking class, and I had to bring along my 10-year-old and 7-year-old sons. Then all three of my kids had homework assignments which required an adult’s assistance. I also had to make sure that they studied their spelling words. There was a birthday present that needed to be purchased for a last-minute child’s birthday party to which one of my kids had been invited, three pies I promised I’d make for a church fair and my husband was prepping to go away for a few days. I managed to get some of the work done, but dinner was on the table much later than I would’ve liked, homework was still being completed close to 9 p.m., the pies didn’t get made and the present went unpurchased. There are only so many hours in a day.
Imagine how much easier it would’ve been if I could’ve worked all day in my home office -- stopping briefly to pop out into the kitchen and greet the kids when they have their after-school snacks -- and then emerged from my office at dinner time, feeling as though I’d put a solid dent in my workload, confident that my children had been lovingly cared for by a relative (who wasn’t charging me by the hour) who’d taken care of their needs?