Yesterday, in the Huff Po, Joanne Bamberger bemoans “the political cult of Mom” which she found not unexpected in Tampa but found pretty surprising in Charlotte. How open minded of her. She reports that Ann Romney, who never worked a day in her life raising 5 children while battling multiple sclerosis and supporting her husband’s career, would, of course, flex the Mommy muscles. But how dare we be betrayed by Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Elizabeth Warren, and the first Mommy, Michelle Obama? How dare they flex their Mommy muscles as they strutted front and center to address the whole world during the convention? How could we take them seriously when they have finally been given serious jobs?
Some way, some how, mentioning their children, their families and their roles as mothers takes away from their message. Does it really hurt women to play multiple roles at once, even if only for the “show”?
I don’t buy it. The ultimate liberation of women from the thousands of years of male modeling of behavior will come when we stop trying to act just like the men. It will start when we behave in a way that feels comfortable to us. When all the parts of our lives are integrated and flow one from the other.
So when we talk about our lives as Moms, do we get taken less seriously? Probably. Should we? Absolutely not. Each different role we have–a mom, a daughter, a sister, a wife, a partner, a friend, a colleague, a mentor, etc.–is an integral part of who we are. And living an integrated life, one that doesn’t cause us to pull ourselves apart each day because we have to set aside one role or another in order to appease others who don’t want to see us in this way.
Why? Because some think it “gets in the way” of doing our jobs. Wrong. I know that for me, being a mom makes me a better doctor. I draw on experiential empathy frequently to connect to patients and families. Others connect and communicate based on other types of relationships.
And that is the key. Women deeply believe that relationships matter. Relationships matter no matter what it is we do. And recognizing our multiple roles helps us to more readily build relationships is smart, whether we are appealing to our political base or to our colleagues.
As women become more comfortable in positions of power, we need to become comfortable with expressing ourselves in our multiple roles in multiple settings. And for heaven’s sake, let’s let up on women who flex their Mommy muscles no matter their political persuasion.