Diane Vogel Ferri is a teacher, poet and writer. Her essays have been published in Scene Magazine, Cleveland Christmas Memories, Raven’s Perch, and by Cleveland State University among others. Her poems can be found in numerous journals. Her chapbook, Liquid Rubies, was published by Pudding House. The Volume of Our Incongruity was published by Finishing Line Press. Diane’s essay, “I Will Sing for You” was featured at the Cleveland Humanities Fest in 2018. Her novel, The Desire Path can be found on Amazon. She is a graduate of Kent State University and holds an M.Ed from Cleveland State University.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

A Woman I Cannot RelateTo

If nothing else, Sarah Palin has stirred up the decades-old question of whether a woman can "have it all". First, let me say that I am not judging her - but trying to relate to her as a woman, which I think is reasonable. Second, I will say that I certainly have nothing against working mothers. I was one - albeit reluctantly, and I think I did a pretty good job of the balancing act. I am still grateful that I established a career before having children, and I don't think the job of staying home is any easier than of working - they both take patience and dedication.
A woman having presidential ambitions certainly does not surprise me either. A woman wanting to be vice-president with a four-month old baby does. There, I said it.
I think back to the days of having an infant and all I can recall is that infant - nothing else. The baby was all-consuming and all I needed. I indeed, thought I had it all in those precious first years of their lives. Granted, I only did it twice - maybe the thrill and the all-consuming part wears off by the fifth one - I don't know.
I also need to insert here that I do not have any doubts that fathers are capable of raising children and that they are certainly as necessary to bringing up healthy, happy kids. Maybe that's Sarah's deal. But I can't get away from the fact that the baby is four months old! At that age, my children weren't more than a few yards away from one of my breasts at any given time.
Here's the other glitch - this child has Down's Syndrome. I have to be honest and tell you that my very first thought was - why are you having a baby when you're 44 years old? Of course, I know that these things can happen accidently to any of us - coincidently to her teenage daughter as well - I'm wondering if they can't get birth control up in Alaska ? But I digress.
If I was 44 and knew I was having a Down's Syndrome child I would definitely have the child, as most women would. But I would also know that this child would need even more of his parents dedication and attention. If you've ever known a family with a Down's Syndrome child I'm sure you understand. It's a great PRO-LIFE statement to have a disabled child, but it doesn't mean as much unless you hang around to raise it . (Okay, now I 'm just being mean, right?)
What does "having it all" mean? Why do we need to have it all in the first place? Is there something we need to prove? I think most women make hard choices and set priorities about family and career and most are satisfied with their decisions. You choose what is right for you, not someone else. So I am not saying that Sarah Palin cannot be a good mother and hold the second highest position in our government, which always includes the possiblity of moving up to the most important, but as for me, I just can't relate to that.


FranIAm said...

As is so often the case, I am short on time but I am long on praise for your words here Diane.

In the short time that I have known you and your blog, I am truly touched by what you articulate and how you do it with balance, grace and humility.

Those are not words that I would use for Sarah Palin, I'm afraid.

Thank you and peace my friend.

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

I have had the same questions about Sarah Palin. The mothers of special needs children I know are devoted to their care, and it becomes a career . . . no, a mission.

I know it's not right to impose that choice on anyone, but if someone touts herself as an example of family values, I would expect to see her choices illustrate that her family is her top priority.

However, I think few people will have the courage to pose the questions you've articulated here because they are not politically correct.

SandyCarlson said...

So with you on this!

quakerdave said...

I was a stay-at-home dad for ten years. As a school teacher with a wife in private industry, it just made sense for us.

It also meant no expensive vacations, a long stretch between new cars, and bills. And a hole in my pension I'm going to have to work hard to fill.

The benefits are priceless now, and I would not trade those years for anything.

But I guess it all depends on one's definition of "all." because in most cases, no. You can't have it all. You have to pick and choose or prioritize.

That's called being a grown-up.

My problem with Gov. Palin is that she wants to run a world where people have fewer choices, and she wants to be sure she has a say in them. Just don't tell HER that she's made some bad ones.

That's not called being a grown-up. That's what adolescents do. Spoiled ones.

Liquid said...

why do i just LOVE her?!

Edna said...

Diane, You say that you are surprised that a woman with a four-month old baby wants to be vice-president. I guess I'm a little surprised that you are surprised! Not every woman breast feeds at four months like you It seems to me that I read that Sarah Palin's husband planned to take over the role of 'working mom'. I haven't double checked that fact so I might be wrong. But it seems to me that whatever arrangements they make is their business. I guess it is hard to make a voting decision without forming some sort of judgment. But judging anybody bothers me; and I find it a heavy responsibility.

Carole said...

Hi, Diane. What Sarah Palin does with her body and her children is her choice; although, when it comes to choices, she'd like to limit those of all women. So, I am not going to judge her either for her choice to have the child or who cares for that child.

My problem with her is that I do not WANT someone in a position of power like the one she seeks who is like me or like those who are so thrilled about her. I want someone with a far better education, a far keener sense of the world outside our doorstep and our borders, and someone with the character and leadership to get us out of this mess created by the last 8 years' leadership...or lack thereof. I am a dog lover extraordinaire, but I never trust a pit bull. They are unpredictable and often not well bred.


I concur!

Besides she has lead Alaska for a short time and whereas that is fantastic and according to the writing on the wall that's far more leading then Obama has accomplished, I don't think she's fit for running the country if something were to happen to McCain--
but Biden could do it, if something happened to Obama--

She's against sex education classes and wants to "ban" them and replace them with abstinence classes--okay, fine..she says birth control is wrong if you're not married--you just shouldn't be having sex--okay, fine, her opinion--but whatever happened to adoption?

Great post and on a personal level I couldn't agree with you more although the reasoning behind how I will vote is not based on personal, butinstead on how well combined the leadership is.