Hump Day Open Thread

What’s up?

The mommy wars have re-reared their ugly head with this Washington Post column by Ruth Marcus, the latest writer to criticize Michelle Obama for taking on a more traditional family role as First Lady. My take on it: Can we become strong women secure in our decisions? Why must we continue to judge women for the way we balance work and family? Ugh.

Singer-actress Jennifer Hudson’s brother-in-law, William Balfour, was arrested and charged for the murders of Hudson’s mother, brother and nephew, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Crazed Parent had a diatribe against crocs for safety reasons. Her son broke his toe after a metal seesaw fell on his foot. He was wearing crocs. There is also a $7 million dollar lawsuit against the company after a little girl wearing crocs got her foot mangled in an escalator.

Dooce admitted she does not enjoy being pregnant and recommended everyone wear a condom. I could relate in that both my pregnancies were riddled with morning sickness, bad acne breakouts and too many emotional highs and lows. What about you? Did you like being pregnant?

The Mormon Church is being investigated for some of its donations to the Yes on Proposition 8 campaign in California, which banned gay marriage in the state, according to Pastor Dan at Street Prophets.

Keeg’s Mom reviewed video game consoles over at her blog Kids’ Flix.

Here is something every new sleep-deprived parent can relate to: Ladies’ Home Journal’s “Can This Marriage Be Saved?” column was about a couple that stopped having sex after their first child was born.

MOMocrats have been debating the proposed automotive industry bailout. Initially, I was for it because I thought it would save my father’s job. My father works for one of the suppliers in the automotive industry. But after talking to him I changed my mind. He thinks the proposed $25 billion will benefit only the people on top and not him. At this point, I can’t help think we would be better off investing the money in unemployment and job training for auto manufacturing workers like my dad rather than give it to CEOs who have run the companies to the ground. What do you think, MotherTalkers?

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?


113 thoughts on “Hump Day Open Thread

  1. Crocs

    I’m sorry Crazed Parent’s son broke his toe while wearing crocs, but I’m not going to stop letting my 4 year old wear them.  He loves them, it’s all he wears.

    I wear sandals all the time in the summer, and so do my kids if they have a comfortable pair they like.  Could something fall on their foot?  I suppose, but I don’t see that risk as being much higher than just going to the playground at all.

    • Ditto

      I mean, aside from wearing steel toed boots, your feet are at risk doing a lot of every day activities. Heck, I dropped a high heeled shoe on my bare foot in the closet the other day and got a nice bruise to show for it. I don’t see crocs as inherently dangerous.

    • Yeah, appropriate footwear is your responsibilty

      Some activities require sturdy, closed-toe shoes. Doing these in other footwear is a risk.  It’s not a terrible idea to keep a pair of sneakers or hiking boots in the car or backpack just in case, cuz it sucks to have to go borrow or buy shoes to take advantage of a fun opportunity, but otherwise sandals and crocs and such can be very comfortable and worthwhile.

    • that was my first thought

      who’s to say a plain old sneaker would have prevented a broken toe?

      And isn’t it a fact that when shoes get stuck in elevators, it’s usually due to shoelaces?

    • read

      I’ll have to go read that. At this point, the bailouts are so out of control, that I think, aw, heck just give it to them. I’m not sure the auto makers are any less foolish than the banks and mortgages companies and everyone else we’ve bailed out. I’m convinced this is all going to turn out to be the biggest scandal ever, when we see where the money really went and if it helped.

      • me too

        I am pretty sure we are being robbed blind.  No caps on exec compensation, no oversight committee with teeth — thrdr guys make the old railroad barons look like pikers.  And it seems to me quite a few of them will be hanging out in the upcoming administration.  Volcker’s the only one that wasn’t directly involved in creating the mess, I think.

      • Totally

        I was snorting all day yesterday at their “offers” to work for a dollar a year. Yeah, right.  What a piece of theater. These people would never work for free.

        I really wish we had never gotten into the business of deciding which companies to bail out. It feels even more unfair and even uglier to save certain sectors and not others.

        • part of the function of government

          to my mind, part of government’s function is to decide when and how to bail out industries and individual businesses. We elect politicians to manage the process of disbursing scarce resources, including in times of crisis. It is unfair and ugly to decide to save certain sectors and not others, but it’s what we elect politicians to do. Blessed are the cheese makers, but I’m not supporting a package to bail out the ailing cheese manufacturing industry, for example.

          However, I do think we elect politicians to manage this process well, and I don’t think any of us can say that the bailout of the auto industry (going back nearly 30 years now) has been well managed.

          • Right, and more importantly..

            ..the function of the government ought to be to regulate industry and financial institutions so, er, we don’t end up in this idiotic situation in the first place. Government should be the referee checking everyone’s playing fair and by the rules, and that’s where the real omission has been in many cases (heck, would Detroit be in this mess if our fuel economy standards had been higher for a decade? I wonder).

          • Good point

            If we’re going to do it, it needs to be done well. I think it really rankles me because I can’t help but think that banks got help because they are Bush’s and Cheney’s vested interests, and car makers and – more importantly – their workers just don’t rate in the Bush administration. So it’s the nature of the unfairness and who is doling it out that really bothers me.

            • I’d be ok with it if it was done right

              As in, prove to us that your next line of cars is full of fuel-efficient vehicles. And no bragging about 25 mpg. That’s just not good enough. Personally I think Staturn has been doing a good job of designing stylish American cars (which seems to be really rare), and working on fuel-efficiency. I grew up with Hondas in the garage, and have only owned a Subaru myself. I admit that American cars tend to turn me off — there are exceptions, but in general I’ve never liked the styling. I just don’t get why Volkswagon, Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Kia, even, can make model after model stylish, yet Dodge or Pontiac can’t. (The Buick Enclave and Ford Edge look great to me, though. They’re not quite so bulky-looking.)

                • No way!

                  Really? I did not know that. Granted, my mom had a Saturn back in the mid-90’s and I hated that car. It was not comfortable to ride in, and it was lousy to drive.

                  But, I figured by now they were a lot better. Maybe not, maybe people finally stopped buying them.

    • thanks for link to mm

      his proposals makes perfect sense. i too believe that giving the auto industry this money will be money down the drain.  i like moore’s ideas.  

      adopting these kinds of policies will save our planet AND get us out of our economic tailspin.  building a new power grid, reorganizing our economy around green technologies and providing an environment where it makes sense for companies to invest in new technologies.this is our challenge…this is our WWII.  FDR was able to provide hope through his new deal policies. but one of the final nails in the great depression coffin came from  manufacturing turning their plants toward building for the war effort.  we must do the same. turn that auto industry into production of mass transit and hybrids.

      • against the bailout

        I haven’t read MM’s post yet, but from what you say here ITA. I’m not in favor of a bailout for the automotive industry. It’s time for a big change in our country’s infrastructure. We need to go green. Instead of putting money into saving these dinosaurs, we should be investing in a new power grid, fuel efficient vehicles, etc. I think Elisa is right, put the money into unemployment insurance and job training so laid off workers can join the new economy and make the transition while still supporting their families. I would add that we need to deal with healthcare too. These car companies do provide health insurance for their workers.

        • I think taking control is better.

          Ineptly managed or not. GM, Ford et al have manufacturing facilities that can be repurposed. Perhaps not easily, perhaps not cheaply, but it’s still got to be better than building entirely new facilities to construct trains, buses, efficient cars. And they have the skilled workers on staff already. No need to go through the hiring process. This is something we can use, rather than talking about unemployment and retraining. These guys have the skills already, they have the facilities already. What they need is the leadership and capital to take it in the right direction. GM won’t do that, but Obama might.

          • if we let them go bankrupt

            Plenty of companies have successfully come out of bankruptcy and those that shouldn’t survive, don’t.  The factories and workers are still there.  If the assets have value they’ll be retained and saved, purchased and placed under new management, or repurposed.  The bankruptcy process will pressure the companies to come up with a workable business plan, if possible, and squeeze whatever value they can from their assets.  

            • The problem with that is the immediate effect.

              Doesn’t bankruptcy allow GM et al default on their pension/healthcare commitments? Similarly, we’d be looking at widespread layoffs. The big 3 represent 4% of the US economy, if we remove those wage earners from our pool of consumers, if we destroy their ability to support their families after retirement, I fear for the wider consequences. While layoffs may be a necessity, I don’t trust these companies to do so in a sensible way, neither will they have the wider economy’s interests at heart.

              • Layoffs…

                the thing with that is my father is convinced they are going to lay off workers regardless of whether or not they receive the money. Are they really requesting the funds to protect jobs? They are already laying off like crazy.

                Also, the majority of the workforce is cheap labor in Mexico, thanks to NAFTA, yet their products are $20k a pop. What have they done with their money?? I don’t trust the industry at all.

                • I don’t mistrust them

                  any more than I mistrust the financial sector.  In fact, I might even put them a few notches above.  

                  There will be layoffs.  GM’s plan called for closing factories and reducing it’s workforce by a third in the next several years.  However, its not just about the workers directly employed by the automakers and their suppliers.  Whole communities would be devastated by the fall out.  There would be no jobs to “retrain” these workers for, and honestly, I’m not holding my breath that these newly proposed industries would come into the communities that had lost the most through a failure of the automotive companies.  

                  • That’s true…

                    that the bailout of the financial industry smacks of elitism, at least compared to the way the auto industry has been treated. It was a good point made by Moore.

                    While communities have and will continue to feel losses by this industry, I am not convinced that simply supporting them as is will serve the common good in the long run. I would be more apt to support the bailout — or a buyout may be better — if there were strict regulations in place such as new leadership and forcing them to create products people will actually buy. Or at least, forcing them to produce products that are less polluting and less harmful for all of us.  

              • we can’t support bankruptcy either

                the fall out is way to great.  i truly believe we gotta get past our anger at these is what it is.  we have to focus on how to help the workers, our economy and our planet.  venting our anger on the corporate excesses is necessary for healing but we can’t get bogged down in it.  we have to get at the innovative and positive solutions.

              • not necessarily

                bankruptcy isn’t a wholesale default, but it does place pressure on all sides to come to an equitable agreement. For instance, when airliners went into Chapter 11 a few years ago, they couldn’t stop paying salaries and ongoing commitments to pensioners and to health care, but unions were forced to renegotiate on pensions, mainly because it was a problem getting money for future allocations to defined benefit pension arrangements. It did mean less pension money for workers in the long run, but there were guaranteed commitments from the airlines that emerged post-bankruptcy.

                If auto makers go into bankruptcy and the pattern follows what happened to airliners a few years ago, what will happen is this: the pension funds themselves will be treated as creditors. They will most likely appoint independent fiduciary managers (there are some good ones out there that I have talked with), who will negotiate with the companies under the aegis of the bankruptcy court. The court will help negotiate a settlement. Won’t be as good as the initial commitment, but it’ll be achievable.

                • The bigger issue, I think

                  Is the impact of a Ch11 filing on sales and resulting long-term viability of the manufacturer.  An airline ticket is a one-time purchase, not a long term relationship.  So while ticket sales dipped somewhat with the Ch11 filings, the only concerns that had to be addressed were that the airline would exist long enough for a person to take their scheduled flight.  Typically a purchase made a few months in advance, for ~$300-1000.  

                  An auto purchase is a highly considered purchase, and represents a significant financial commitment as well as a long-term relationship with the manufacturers and their suppliers for parts and service over the life of the vehicle.  If the buyer’s confidence in the long term viability of the manufacturer is in doubt, they are less likely to make the purchase especially with alternatives available.  With a dramatically decreased revenue stream the manufacturer would have a hard time emerging from Ch11.  


                  • yes, you’re right

                    there are longer-term viability issues and things to consider like extended warantees and such. So comparing airliners and auto manufacturers is not perfect by any means. I was more comparing them on the grounds of negotiated pension/healthcare commitments, which are somewhat similar between the two.

          • is it really taking control?

            What you describe is compelling. But what I see from the bailouts so far is the gov’t handing money over to the people who drove these institutions into the ground in the first place (no pun intended). It doesn’t look to me like Obama would be taking over the facilities and workforce. The bailout would go to the car companies trying to save themselves as they exist today.

            • well we need to fight it!

              michael moore’s ideas are really similar to what friedman and van jones talk about in their books…Hot Flat and Crowed and The Green Collar Economy.  i am having so many discussions  with folks about this notion of “the economy is first priority, geen is going to have to wait”.  argh…the ideas put forth by these guys are not mutually exclusive.  by attacking the economy with green solutions you are saving both the economy and the planet and probably correcting the economy FASTER than without these kinds of solutions.

              i think obama gets it, i really do. we need a massive education in this country around how it will work. it isn’t about the fact these guys took a corporate private jet to washington…that’s mice nuts. the solutions moore, freidman, van jones are talking about are positive, create jobs and leverage existing industrial assets. it truly is a win win.  

              • Definitely

                We have to make the investments into green technology ANYWAY, there’s just no way around it. Why not do it at a time when restructuring is happening anyway? Why restructure twice?

            • That’s my point.

              Right now we have handouts/loans. I think this is foolish. Moore proposes buyouts (and, as he points out, why are we talking about lending GM $25bn when we could buy the entire company for $3bn) so we could replace the management and have complete control over the direction the company takes.

              • After reading Moore’s essay…

                I would have to agree with the $3 billion buyout versus $25 billion bailout. This would allow the government to fire the management and include stipulations like no more manufacturing non-green products.

                I do think we need to go to a green economy and some retraining of automotive workers will be necessary. But giving — excuse me, lending — these dinosaurs $25 billion to continue on the same path is stupid.

                I would rather them file for bankruptcy protection than give them tens of billions of dollars with no strings attached, which appears what they are asking for.

                • The only question I’m left with for Moore..

         how much it would cost the taxpayer once we own the companies. $3bn is the market worth, right? That’s what we pay the current owners just to take control of the company (singular – that’s just the price for GM). After that, we’d need to inject capital to refit the factories to do what we want, we need to keep paying the employees, and we need to cover health benefits and retirement (and GM was allowed to drain those accounts IIRC, there’s nothing in them, right? WTF was with that?). That’s going to be a whole heap of cash, and I don’t know whether it’ll be in the ballpark of what the big 3 are asking for anyway, or not. My comfort zone is far closer to where we actually have control of the companies to dictate how this money is spent, but we still ought to have an idea of how much we’ll be spending once we’ve bought the companies, and that’s missing from Moore’s proposal. I suspect it’s still the road we ought to travel, but it would be nice to know what the government’s business plan ought to be, and how much that would cost.

          • umm, you mean Bush, right?

            What they need is the leadership and capital to take it in the right direction. GM won’t do that, but Obama might.

            Cuz GM insists it needs to be bailed out within the month or go under.  So if we’re going to do anything with it the terms are set by George, not Barack.

        • you know what always gets me?

          In 1994, the board of the National Association of Manufacturers shot down the Clinton health initiative. Fourteen years later, what’s the auto manufacturers’ prime whine? “Health care costs are killing us.” Hey, dumba$$, dontcha think that socialised healthcare would, you know, kinda remove that $1500/car expense?

          Talk about your prime example of being penny-wise and pound foolish. It just makes me want to cry.

      • Yes.

        That’s what would be sensible.  Ofcourse, I come from a part of the country that would be devastated even further by letting the Big Three simply fade from existence, and I’m hoping that such policies would reinvigorate our economy which has been suffering for at least 25 years.  

    • Beat me to it.

      Yes, Michael Moore is right on the money with that diary. This is exactly what we should do. I hope the American fear of nationalization doesn’t get in the way of our doing the sensible thing. Because throwing money at these fools surely isn’t the right option, but neither is letting the companies collapse.

      • preach it!

        really i keep trying to find a forum, an organization that takes these very sensible ideas from Moore, Friedman and Van Jones and gets them out for a much broader discussion.  it just makes so MUCH sense.

    • One missing link

      I think that the one missing link that MM misses is that part of the reason the Big 3 did so many stupid things was that the financial sector rewarded them for it in the short term.  Wall Street seems incapable of thinking beyond the period, quarter, or year-end results.  So the Big 3 (and a ton of the other corporations in trouble) have optimized themselves for the short run and are now finding themselves up sh!t creek without a paddle.  They were wrong, and stupid, and short sighted, and greedy.  But the Street helped them get there.  

      Now they walk away with their money, and the rest of them hang.  This is infuriating.  


  2. We just found Rory a preschool

    that she’ll start in February…that’s the earliest we can afford it.  :)  My semester started on Monday (I keep reminding myself that I have to go because I have that scholarship), and Jules’ birthday is looming.  I’ve also got a motorcycle class coming up (Yay, motorcycle license)!

      • Isn’t he a sweetie?

        I just updated his page all the way up until November 20th.  Still waiting for Turkey-day photos from the ILs.  (erg, btw).

        Oh, and I got the onesie from a second-hand shoppe.  He’s almost outgrown it though (12-18 months).  Do you want it?

  3. Kudos to the Mom-in Chief and Mother Talkers

    So I cheered when I heard Michelle Obama use the term “mom-in chief” on 60 Minutes.  So that Washington Post column made me cringe.  All mothers – whether or not they also work for pay – can and should claim that title in their own homes.  A mother willing to stand up and say that mothering involves personal sacrifices and compromises is a mother that is telling the truth.  And what mothers (and fathers) everywhere need is a little more TRUTH and a little less JUDGEMENT (I’m looking at you Ruth Marcus).  Why is it a “stamp” (or did she mean Scarlet Letter?) for Michelle Obama to call herself “mom-in chief”?  Is it really acceptable to brand mothers who openly prioritize their children’s and family’s needs as losers?  Is it really acceptable for the only measure of success for a woman to be the size of their paycheck or length of their professional title?

    Michelle Obama has been willing to speak honestly about the difficulties and struggles she has had with work/family balance.  And until all mothers are willing to listen to each other’s stories about the struggles in work/family balance in the spirit of finding solutions that allow all mothers, all fathers, all workers, the chance to work toward that balance, then nothing will change for the better for our families or our children.  And who better than Michelle Obama to open the door to this conversation.  From a CBS interview: “Michelle Obama talked about what she might bring to the table as the nation’s first lady.  ‘I hope it would be work-family balance, you know,’ Michelle Obama said. ‘I mean, you hear me talking about this because it’s the life that I’m living.’”

    Thanks to Mother Talkers for providing such a forum for such a conversation.

    • I love Michelle Obama

      I know I’ve said this before, but I think it bears multiple repeats:-)  I think Michelle Obama is awesome.  I really respect her and everything that she’s accomplished and how well, openly, and honestly she talks about it all.  I think more highly of Barack Obama because he married a woman like Michelle.  I very much look forward to seeing what she does over the next 4 years and how she manages it all – she is definitely a role model for me.

      And I second the thanks for the forum here to be able to talk about all of these mothering issues without it being a “Mommy Wars.”  Kudos to all for that.

    • WTF?

      First Lady is a JOB.  She ran for this when she agreed to go along with Barack’s campaign.  The position comes with a fully staffed office in the East Wing, a household staff, chefs, a personal assistant, and a ubiquitous secret service detail.  She has a lot of latitude in exactly how she uses this position, but the responsibilities are real.

      Michelle’s position is unique and can’t be compared to the choices and pressures facing the rest of us.  There is nothing traditional or ordinary about raising children in the White House, and she is going to be casting about for the best way to do this.  She is not going to be fighting with Barack over whose turn it is to unload the dishwasher, and she’s not going to be pressuring him to cut back on his work schedule.  There is no such thing as work/family balance for this family, because their work is their life.

      • Really?

        Michelle’s position is unique and can’t be compared to the choices and pressures facing the rest of us.  There is nothing traditional or ordinary about raising children in the White House, and she is going to be casting about for the best way to do this.  

        Her position will have similarities to those of us that have spouses that travel, to those of us that have careers in the public eye, to those of us that work at the top of our professions, to those of us that work from home, to those of us that worry every day that we make the choices, in that day, that are the best for our family.  

        There is no single, uniform description of the challenges we all face.  What I love about MT is that we are all different, finding different ways to juggle different challenges.  While groups of us share elements of our lives that are the same, no two are identical.  


      • I totally agree

        When I read how Cherie Blair maintained her barrister’s job, I think “why”?  Being First Lady has got to be one of the most unique, exciting gigs around. I would want to savor every moment of it.  And I would trade a garden-variety lawyer’s job for it in an instant.

        And after she is done she will have a world of professional opportunities.  Well worth the 10 year or so (hopefully!) hiatus from a separate professional job.

        • First lady is different

          from being married to the Prime Minister.  At least in Canada and I’ll assume in Britain it isn’t the same thing as it is in the States.

          There’s much less pressure to live up to any kind of ideal in other countries and being the Prime Minister’s wife is not really a job.  

        • Cherie Blair

          isn’t just a “garden variety” barrister; firstly, she is a founder of her barrister chambers, Matrix. Matrix is well known for its specialism in human rights. She has taken on cases that challenge laws passed during the Blair government (one can only imagine the pillow talk). She has even taken cases on gender discrimination to the Eurpean Court of Justice. It is interesting to note that Matrix was founded in 2000 – three years after Tony Blair became prime minister.

          As LC notes, there is no defined role for the spouse of the prime minister (apparently, Denis Thatcher’s most publicly known role was his ability to prepare drinks well for guests…), so what would be in it for Cherie Blair to quit her job?

        • asdf

          Man, I think the First Lady role is basically taking a fabu woman with a ton of her  own accomplishments and goals and putting her in jail. A pastel suit jail. I feel the opposite, ie why do we expect First Ladies to give up their lives like that?

          Strangely enough, this is why I liked Laura Bush’s approach, as retro as she seems sometimes. She basically didn’t want much to do with it at all, as a public role, and lived accordingly, and I respect that as much as I respect Cherie Blair’s approach.

          • you know, I agree with you

            weirdly. Not that it’s weird to agree with you, but wierd to think that, in her own way, Laura Bush was quite counterculture. She just kept on doing what she likes to do and not what she’d be expected to do – she’d have readings with poets, and I loved it when she’d kind of wander off the reservation on things like abortion and whether McCain had her support. I’m actually kind of interested in seeing her memoir, if it’s an honest one.

            • Same here

              I hope it’s an honest one. I think it will be interesting to “hear” her voice either way. Ever since her very first interview with Larry King, when he tried without success to bait her on all sorts of topics, I always had the impression the woman has a spine of steel. I hope she writes candidly now that she is free.

            • American Wife

              Did you read American Wife? It’s fiction, but it’s really good. If you are interested in Laura Bush, it’s a good read (long though).

            • She did fine,

              given the type of First Lady she wanted to be, but I think there are other models – more politically involved ones – that are OK too.

            • I agree with you

              one has to say, too, that I think she and Michelle would probably see eye-to-eye in terms of the role to play in raising daughters in the White House. On balance, Jenna and Barbara have done well under the pressure. Honestly, the whole tequila/underage thing? Whichever twin that was is no worse than most of the people I went to college with; just unlucky enough to get caught.

      • Maybe not my same work, or my same life

        but I think Michelle will be living a lot more like me than Laura Bush. By that I mean Michelle will still have to balance raising her young children with her work duties as First Lady. I don’t doubt for a minute that she will be asking the girls to just deal with not having her around because she has to go to some State function abroad. Certainly it’s not going to be the same as the work/life balance that is going on in my home, I agree. But she will have more of that tug-of-war than Laura Bush did since her kids were much older and in college for 1/2 the presidency.

  4. Dear Ruth Marcus,

    Kindly SUCK IT.

    Did she have to say it out loud, quite so explicitly? Is it really good for the team — the team here being working women — to have the “mommy” stamp so firmly imprinted on her identity?

    WTF does this even mean? I didn’t realize that women belonged to “teams,” and that we’re pitted against each other in some sort of twisted competition.

    I’m a woman. I work. I’m a mother. When I became a mother, the “mommy” stamp became firmly imprinted on my identity– along with dozens of other stamps.

    Everyone knows Michelle is an educated, accomplished woman, who speaks openly about the importance of a work/family balance. So as far as I’m concerned, she can call herself whatever the heck she wants, and she shouldn’t be judged for it.  

    • Parent stamp

      I think Barack is pretty well stamped as a dad, too, and I think that is a fantastic awesome thing.  Contrast Bush.  That may be unfair, because I would want to keep my kids’ lives out of the public eye.  But I believe it’s a healthy, positive thing for leaders who are parents to emphasize how that is an important part of who they are.

    • tip toeing into this one…

      but i winced too when Michelle said “mom in chief”. i believe michelle obama can choose whatever role she wants. good for her, whatever she decides.  but “mom in chief”?  i think it does have the potential to signal that moms who do work outside the home are somehow not as much of a mom.  i am certain it isn’t what she meant at all…but i did wince a little.

      • I disagree

        i think it does have the potential to signal that moms who do work outside the home are somehow not as much of a mom.

        EVERYONE (and their mother! :-) knows Michelle Obama was a working mom. And quite frankly, i think she used “mom-in-chief” jokingly. It’s not like she’ll have business cards printed up, you know?

        When she gets to the White House, she is going to be focused on making sure her daughters are settled and have as smooth a transition as possible. She has made that perfectly clear, IMHO.

        I don’t see why saying “I’m going to focus on motherhood for a while” needs to be seen as a slam on working moms.

        Like Rachel said below, I’m on Team Michelle, too. :-)

        • totally with you…

          everything all has said i agree with 100%.  i am admitting to “mom in chief” as being what?  well i can see how a working mom might feel that she is less than that as a mom.  admittedly it’s a nuance and again certain MO didn’t mean it that way.

          the team thing is another matter entirely..

          • Mom in Chief…

            The First Lady IS a working mom, very much so, so I don’t think working moms should interpret her comments as negative toward them.

          • I can’t see why

            Technically, Commander in Chief doesn’t mean that he does everything himself, but that the decisions are made and stop with him.  Mom in Chief, as far as I’m concerned, means that regardless of who executes the decisions (mom, nanny, staff), the mom is taking full responsibility for making them.  That, in my book, is motherhood.  You’re on the hook for it from day 1.  


          • She’s in a different place than the usual FL

            It is not often that young children have lived in the White House — most First Ladies are asked immediately what their agenda will be focusing on. Literacy, children’s health care, homelessness, etc. It’s rare that a FL has two young kids, so for Michelle, being their mom first, then FL second is her agenda. It’s a lot easier to tackle an agenda first when your kids are in high school, college, or grown ups. Having Barbara Bush describe herself as Mom in Chief would have been bizarre.

            I really don’t think it means anything related to you and me as mothers — I think Michelle was trying to compare her role as FL with previous FLs.

      • yes and no

        I agree that mom-in-chief could be a totally irritating comment.

        But in context, which I think was a reporter asking “What will you do when you get to the White House?”, her response made sense. I took it as she wanted to sort of put those questions on hold and make sure she got everything settled and her girls were doing ok before she took on any big projects.

          • part of me

            Part of me feels a little sorry for them (the girls). Let’s say this happened 10 years later, they would be 17 and 20 and in a much better place in terms of having their own lives and maturity and all that.

            I have to say, I don’t think I envy them growing up in the White House.

        • I think so too

          Whenever I have seen Michelle with her girls, she is always focused on them (compared to Sarah P who was always focused on the cameras).  To me that speaks volumes about her priorities, which I really admire.  I think she’s going to make sure they transition well, and she’ll think about what’s next after that main job is done.  I love it that she seems to be saying first things first: Let me make sure my kids are okay before you ask to me to start thinking about something less important, whether it’s universal healthcare or whatever. I’ve got a job to do here, and nothing else I could be doing is more important than this.  

          Once their lives have settled, I’ve no doubt she’ll make some significant public contributions.

          • ITA

            And who the hell is going to tell the Obamas they’re wrong? Not me, for one. I think that were we in the same position (or an analagous position, in that one of us is taking on a new job that causes significant dislocations for the rest of the family), we’d do exactly that – the other person would be the one focusing on transitioning the family.

            • absolutely

              My husband would love to see me regain my career focus, he does his share of the child care and transport, and he always offers to take our elder son to medical appointments.  But the reality is that his demanding, high pressure job is financially beyond anything I could ever achieve.  And DS1 requires a substantial time commitment (and a good health insurance plan).  So me spending time on the family is a financial investment for both of us.  Nobody can tell me that’s wrong.

    • Ruth Marcus needs a tall glass of

      shut up juice. You’re not on my team, Ruth. Why should we hide the fact that we’re moms, any more than men should hide the fact that they’re dads? I adore Michelle Obama. I’m on her team!

    • Does age make a difference in reaction?

      When I read the column, my thought was that her aversion to hearing Michelle Obama say “mommy-in-chief” may come from her own journey as a baby-boomer-working-mother.  (Caveat here:  I have met Ruth Marcus, her youngest child and my oldest overlapped one year in pre-school, and in general, but not always, I enjoy her viewpoint on the editorial page of the Washington Post.)  She may believe that its not possible to be proud “out loud”, although I do, and I greatly appreciate how it shows the country the value and importance of prioritizing children’s needs.

      I only mention the baby boomer thing because I am 42, just below the definition of boomer, and my siblings are all older and I notice differences in how we see  women/motherhood.  One particular moment I noticed a difference in viewpoints was with a friend about 10 years older than me.  I hyphenated my name when I got married (as had she many years earlier) and she said to me “Don’t you love it that your last name makes a statement?”  And, I told her that the only statement I thought it made was that I was married.  For her it had been a statement to the world about not giving up identidy, while to me it had just been one choice of many.

  5. I heard from the casting agent

    today.  She said DS was too young for the part.  She has been really great about communicating with me and I appreciate her promptness.  So why don’t I feel satisfied and ready to move on?  I am having a strange, stuck, letdown feeling that I totally did not expect.  I guess I have a few hours to work through it before picking up DS.

    I don’t know about DS, but I am definitely not cut out for the highs and lows of the entertainment business, even vicariously.  It’s one of those “heart walking around outside my body” moments, for sure.

    • sorry to hear that

      I could totally understand the let-down feeling, too. After all, your son is precious to you! And honestly, this is the first time this has happened, and it just happened today; I think it’s well within the bounds of reasonable that you’re not yet ready to move on.

      I’ll be interested to hear how DS takes it, and perhaps his reaction will help you with yours.

      • thanks Rachel

        I talked with DH about it. He works in a related business and is very used to rejection, turnabouts, etc. and has developed a much thicker skin.  He is focusing on the upsides, that DS rose to the challenge and was exposed to a high-level agent in this process.

        I think I got over-involved. I guess I’m mostly just surprised at my feelings (and not wanting to own them). The woman who brought him the opportunity sort of flipped out and I ended up being more involved than either she or I was comfortable with.  I definitely learned a lesson from that, that I can’t get so involved without getting pretty emotional.  And I don’t think that’s entirely appropriate, because it’s not my life.    

        The agent herself was professional and delightful, and taking DS’s tape to her boss was really a high compliment, if you ask me :).  

        I am debating having a beer with lunch to mellow out the afternoon and get things in perspective. I want to make sure my stuff doesn’t get wrapped up in talking with DS about it.  DH and I have planned how we’re going to talk with him. I guess I can always keep my mouth shut if I start feeling inappropriate!

        • wow

          sounds like you have a really good handle on how you feel and why. Which with luck will translate to an easier time talking to DS than you might expect.

          Disapppointment is very hard and maybe harder on you than on him [I am remembering when my niece didn’t make cheerleader her first try; my SIL seemed more devastated but I think it was just hurting her to see my niece hurt at all].

          good luck. And I’d go for the beer, too!

        • geez, I tell you what

          you process fast, mamacita! Those are good conclusions from less than 30 minutes of cogitating. I would agree with your husband’s assessment – that it’s very good that DS rose to the occasion and was exposed to the agent. Those are positives. Good work.

          I sit here and come at this from the perspective of working in a competitive field, and from having had to learn to deal (many, many times!) with rejection, critque of my performance, and having to learn how to accept wholesale rewrites of pieces that I felt. I do feel fortunate that I learned how to deal with this at a relatively young age (having started working for newspapers when I was 17); it’s healthy to learn how to take “no”, to figure out how to take positive lessons from that “no”, and most importantly, figure out that “no” is not a rejection of who you are as a person. If DS can learn these skills as a teenager, I think he’s well set up for whatever he pursues in his life.

    • Aw

      Sorry to hear that. I think it always sucks to not get something and of course, it’s even worse if you really wanted it. I hear you on the highs and lows things, there are a lot of jobs like that, I don’t know how people do it. Let us know how it goes.

      • I used to have a small business

        I loved the work (typography / graphics) but hated the sales part.  This feels a lot like that. But I have to remind myself, he is choosing this. I need to find the formula for butting out but being there for support. And this is the best time for him to learn about it, so he can make good decisions when he’s older about whether he’s built for this kind of thing.

        Okay, feeling a little better!  Thanks!

    • darn it

      I’m sorry to hear this, mamacita. I’m not good with highs and lows either, all the waiting and expectation.
      I do think your dh has the ticket though, in thinking of it as experience and exposure. How’d he get so rational??!

      And it’s great the agent took his stuff to her boss. It reminds me of what a writing teacher once told me. He said that after a while you learn to recognize the “good” rejections, the ones where they obviously read the stuff and wrote an individualized rejection letter. It meant they were open to getting more stuff. Thick skin indeed.

      • thank you

        I’m sitting here reading a New Yorker article about an actor, Mark Rylance, and all kinds of things in his life that make me think an artist’s life is so rich, these disappointments must pale in comparison.  And then there are examples like our Katie, who enriches her day-job life with acting — like a well always there to refresh her.  And I am re-reading a recent email from an actor I admire,

        “Life with an adolescent that has the acting urge can be genuinely  
        misunderestimatable and verklempt.
        Any time you need talking down off the ledge or just want some plain  
        talking feel free to call or send a pidgeon.
        It’s a big scarey hand painted world out there with wobbly scenery!!
        The surgery is open!
        And again thanks for the wine but REALLY…
        Any time.

        And all of this is making me feel like, yes, I told myself I’d spend the day baking and instead I’m literally feeling my way through something which is preventing me from doing anything else “productive”; and, yes, DS will be fine. He is so much his own person, and in some key ways he is unerring, and I have a lot of faith in him. And I have to believe he will find a joyous life, not a life of only uncertainty and disappointment.  (My goodness, his Artful Dodger was a revelation.  Oh me of little faith!)  

        I think that’s the crux of it, as it is for every mother.

        Thank you, MTs, for being here.  I haven’t even had the beer and I’m already feeling so much further along.  Your wise and compassionate presence make such a good difference in my life.  

        • Sorry

          to hear about the disappointment. You sound like you’ve got a very good grip on it all though (I’m very impressed). I hope the talk with DS went OK, and that you feel a bit better as well after a night’s sleep.


  6. Had a rough “baby/husband” night

    I’m so exhausted!  DS got up in the middle of the night and wanted to sleep with me.  Not so bad, in and of itself, but then DH decided to come into bed too, and laid on DS’s arm.  That started him to crying, and then DH couldn’t get comfy, muttering, tossing and turning.  DH decided to go sleep elsewhere, leaving me with a crying baby at 3:30 in the morning!  It took me until after 4 to get DS calm and back to sleep.  Then it was up before 7 to help get DS ready for daycare.  Thank the gods I didn’t have to work today!  We have to come up with something better.  This is kicking my butt!  I was off yesterday and today, and both nights were from somewhere south of heaven!  I end up feeling so tired and disgruntled that I don’t get anything done that needs to get done.  It would probably help if I got off the computer and got moving, but I just feel so stiff and sore.  When are we going to fall into a routine?!?  Please don’t tell me this is the routine.  I think I’ll cry!

    OK.  Done ranting for now.  I think I’ll go do the dishes left over from last night.

    • That sounds like my house

      I swear we’ve had the same nights recently.  And since I’ve been sick DH has been taking Isaac and two tired, cranky guys is more than I can handle in the best of health.  We actually tried a cry it out method last night which sucked more since now Isaac screams “Mama” during it, but whether it’s because it worked or Isaac was just too exhausted he did end up sleeping much better last night (after a few bursts of 10 minute crying).  Knock on wood.  I’ve probably just jinxed us to 45 minutes of screaming and lots of wake ups tonight…  Meanwhile, Mira is still sleeping with us because her night terrors wake up Isaac if they share a room…  I dream of the day when we have a place with 3 bedrooms and they each sleep by themselves (although Mira is looking at bunk beds for when Isaac is old enough to leave the crib…)

      Anyways, good luck with your sleeping and I hope that you find a routine – and let us know when you do so we can copy it:-)

    • oy

      I feel for you and for capasb. For me, if sleep isn’t working, nothing’s working.  Hugs to both of you.

      DH and I both have sleep problems, so when DS came along we just made sure there were enough comfortable places for everyone to sleep, no matter what kind of musical beds went on at night.  That worked for us, especially when DS would come in our bed and sleep (read: kick) sideways, one of us could just leave.

      Hang in there!

    • Hugs

      Oof, that sounds like a tough couple of night. It kills me too, to have those. And I can say that luckily, they tend not to be routine.
      Hope you had a better night this time around!

  7. Michele Obama.

    I also admit that the “mom-in-chief” comment rubs me the wrong way.  I feel like she is going out of her way to avoid being compared to Hillary.  And there’s also the “awe-shucks” tone to the way she talks about being mom in chief, like is just a simple choice to make or thing to do.  

    That being said, its just the tone that bothers me.  I find all these editorials bewailing the fact that Michelle is “wasting” her education annoying beyond belief.  She believes in what her husband wants to do in the White House.  She loves her girls and wants to make this transition easier on her.  Life does not have to be lived in a linear fashion, and if Michele believes her family needs her more than a career does, the more power to her.  I just wish she’d be more assertive about her decision, maybe a little more in-your-face about it.

    Cherie Blair’s op-ed just screamed “BITTER” at me.  

    • career on hold

      Hillary put her law practice aside to spend 8 years as first lady.  She doesn’t seem to have done too badly, career-wise.  Though in her case it was probably training that toughened her hide and stood her well in the long run.  :-)

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