Below, find my latest parenting column, which appeared in today’s Forum Life section: http://www.in-forum.com/
Palin parallels striking
Roxane Salonen, The Forum
Published Tuesday, October 14, 2008
‘So, what do you think of Sarah Palin?” a friend recently asked our circle of mother pals.
Talk about a conversation killer. Awkward, discerning glances from one mother to the other followed, and the subject was dropped like a soiled diaper into a “Hazardous materials only” trash bin. Frantically, we shifted onto safer topics such as peer pressure, early dating and gender confusion.
I should have learned that day never to mix parenting and politics, and yet I can’t seem to get Palin out of my mind.
It was my husband who first brought her to my attention. “Hey, Rox, you’ve got to see this gal McCain’s picking for his running mate,” he yelled from another room. “She’s just like you.”
The following morning, Palin was officially introduced to the American public. I was on a treadmill at a local health club, multitasking with a novel in one hand and a cell phone in the other. I dropped both as I watched her gracefully move across the stage and meet her prospective constituents.
The treads began moving faster as I looked on, reading the words on the screen and becoming more energized by politics than I had been in a long time.
So what is it about Palin that has me captivated? Well, we do have a few things in common. We both were born in the 1960s into a family of teachers. We both played basketball in high school and majored in mass communications in college. And we’re both mothers of five children.
Granted, I have three boys and two girls, the reverse of Palin’s family; my best contribution to my high school basketball team was as a cheerleader from the bench; and I grew up in
Around the time Sarah was learning to dribble a ball, my aunt and uncle were accepting teaching jobs in the tundra, where they lived without running water and traveled by husky-pulled sleds.
There are some areas in which Sarah and I collide. I’m not much of a hunter, though I’ve killed some bugs, plants and an occasional goldfish. I identify with and will argue against certain convictions of both major political parties, so I know she won’t win me over on all points.
But so far, I’m intrigued.
Perhaps more than any other reason, it’s because I know the challenges of parenting a relatively large family. Her bustling brood speaks volumes to me, someone who has experienced both the chaos and joy of a big clan.
I also like that her political career began at her local PTA, that she chose to give life to a special-needs child, and that she has offered unconditional love to her pregnant teen daughter.
And I can’t help but admire anyone who has been vomited on by a sick child, changed a million diapers, nursed and held a baby with a fever in her arms in the emergency room, and not regretted any of it.
Politics aside, her mother heart alone could be transformative for our world.
In my mind, Sarah’s motherhood qualifies her to offer advice on all the important topics she might someday address as a world leader. She’ll have advisors to help her, just as most of us have our own parents, friends, counselors and clergy to guide us. Didn’t someone say it takes a village?
Perhaps I am foolish to be so taken by her, but by virtue of our shared motherhood, Sarah and I were bonded before I even knew she existed.
And I promise my affinity toward her has nothing to do with the fact that my husband insists there’s a physical resemblance, as well.
(Good try, hon, but Tina Fey already got that gig.)
Roxane B. Salonen works as a freelance writer and children’s author in Fargo, where she and husband, Troy, are parents to five children. She also has a Web site, www.roxanesalonen.com