Palin Post-Game from the Convention Floor.

First day back to school. Three new grades: first, fourth and sixth. My kids and I celebrated by munching tortillas at our favorite Mexican café in the bright September sunshine. We dissected who had grown. Who had braces. Which teacher was most strict.

 

Then my cell phone rang. The caller offered a thrilling balance of opportunity and chaos: Could I be on a plane in two hours to attend the Republican National Convention and give a Today Show interview about the “mommy wars” stirred up by Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s nomination?

 

Well, yes I could. We rushed home. Cell phone cocked against my ear, I made travel arrangements, I threw together a suitcase, makeup, toiletries. As my husband walked in the front door I ran out in the same stay-at-home mom clothes I’d been wearing at the Mexican restaurant.

 

A few measly hours later, I was in the St. Paul convention center, wearing salmon silk, professionally lacquered, my right arm resting next to Meredith Viera’s left arm. Although it was not yet 7 am, Sarah Palin had just finished practicing her acceptance speech. I caught an electrifying few final words before it was my turn to talk under the bright tv lights. I spoke about the surprise of the Republican party vigorously championing a working mom of five after decades of seeming to insist that a good mom could not work outside the home. I offered a possible explanation behind women’s criticism of Palin: the “mommy wars” propensity to overpersonalize others’ decisions regarding juggling work and family.

 

That interview led to another. My media pass meant I could stay a few more hours and hear Palin herself deliver the entirety of what was sure to be a landmark speech. I wanted to witness thousands of formerly sexist politicians listening raptly to her tale of juggling kids and career, and what she dreamt of doing for America as the first female vice president. I felt like the girl who gets asked to the prom by Jake.

 

Then my nine-year-old burst into tears over the phone when I told her I was staying a second night. My son confessed the dog had pooped in the dining room because he had forgotten to walk him. My six-year-old babbled excitedly and incoherently about her first homework assignment: assembling a coin collection, which sounded like doin doolection because she just lost her second front tooth. Every muscle told me how tired I was from being up since 4 am. I caught a whiff of my own stinky armpits trapped in clothes I would have to wear another day since I hadn’t packed enough outfits.

 

Home tugged as hard as Sarah Palin’s words.

 

I thought of how many nights with her children Palin has missed over the last two decades. What it must feel like to return to work three days after giving birth to a disabled infant. Lost in the debate about right and wrong ways to be a working mom is the lingering, private pain that accompanies balancing our ambition with love for our children.

leslie morgan s...
09.22.08

Leslie Morgan Steiner

I feel like it is hard to really know any of the candidates these days. There is so much spin -- by all of them!

lmetsch
09.22.08

It scares me to think other women are supporting Palin. I would love to see a woman in office...but not her. I really liked McCain but after he picked Palin my decision was clear. There are so many qualified women he could have choosen. It actually scares me to death, to think if McCain wins and something horrible happent to him ...she could be president. I know you like her, but enough for her to run the country??? It's amazing how this debate has turned into Obama vs Palin. Most Palin supporters don't know anything about her yet they still want to vote for her??? Why??

faq
09.10.08

Bravo. Well said.

AmyF
09.10.08

I wish I had known you were on. I disagree with Palin on the issues, so I'm not voting for her, but it has been really nice to see a woman front and center that is doing so much. And it seems like the campaign coverage has been going on for 10 years, so this certainly made it more interesting.

AmyF
www.sofiabean.com

leslie morgan s...
09.09.08

Leslie Morgan Steiner

The mommy wars continue! (Although it's not REALLY a war.) I love that so many women across the country are talking about the realities of motherhood. And that the newspapers, radio shows and tv programs are giving the subject the time it deserves.

KelleyS
09.08.08

Loved to see the mommy wars discussion front and center. Helps us all to realize motherhood is personal and we all do it a different way -- and that's OK!

Travling is, by far, THE WORST part of my work. I miss the kids terribly. And,airlines are so completely undependable these days, you never know if you will actually get home when you need to. Then, everything seems to pile up -- the mail, the laundry the mountain of school papers, not to mention the empty frig!

I can't wait until we can just be "beamed up," like in Star Trek, and skip the airports and lost travel time.

krivera
09.05.08

Loved you on the Today Show - and how you gave us a sneak peak into your trek to St. Paul to make it all happen. :) Clearly Palin has some family pressures, but I believe we all have different thresholds for stress and work and support systems. I sometimes have a crazy job with travel, but thank god for my family - hopefully Palin has that same support network and both her family and the country can benefit from her strengths as mom and leader.

emily65
09.04.08

Leslie,
I was so excited to see your interview with Meredith. I completely agree with all your points. I also liked Palin's speech, although I disagree with her on the issues. She presents a very appealing picture of working motherhood complete with its joys and challenges. Although I rarely travel on work, I know what it is like to work late and come home after the kids are asleep. Or to have my son call me to help with his homework over the phone. This working mother hood gig is a bittersweet dance, but every day, I am thankful I can participate.