Barack Obama and Michelle ObamaImage via WikipediaMy friend and I were talking about all the recent articles about Michelle Obama and how she is supposedly going to have to give everything up to be the First Lady.  Cheri Blair told her that she is going to have to learn to take a backseat.  Women are concerned that Michelle is going to have to put her career on the back burner for the time being.  Personally, I think all the brouhaha is bullshit.

It isn't like Obama woke up one morning and failed to mention to his wife that he threw his hat in the rink to run for President.  A marriage is a partnership.  Sometimes one person takes a back seat while the other drives and visa-versa.  Take a look at Hillary Clinton.  She took a backseat for 8 years to her husband and now it appears that she will be Secretary of State in the Obama White House

Men seem to slowly creep up the scale while women are all over the place with a variety of different careers based on where they are in their life.  Of course that doesn't always hold true but it seems to happen to women more.

Men and women are different.  Some women are more like men while other men are more like women but in general, I find that women end up taking care of the majority of the particulars around the kids and the day to day life of a family.  People in partnerships, even a business partnership, fall into roles.  It is natural.

Michelle Obama seems to me to be one smart cookie.  She will carve out for herself the role that she wants to play for herself, for her husband, for her children and for the country.  She won't do it by herself, she will talk to her partner about it.  That's what partners do. 

Fred and I have been together for 27 years.  We have always been partners.  Believe me, my role has changed many times over the years.  For many years, I was the breadwinner.  We certainly shared many responsibilities for the kids but as time went by, roles shifted.  We made a decision together about how it made sense for me to focus my time in order for someone to be around for the kids.  His career was booming and mine was changing.  Did I give up opportunities?  Sure, but we made that decision together and I was comfortable with it.  If something came along that I didn't want to pass up, we would have shifted for that too.  There is no doubt that we are in a great situation that enables me to have so much flexibility but nothing is perfect.  It hasn't always been easy to be the person on the back burner but maybe it wouldn't have been easy working full time and not being around for the kids either.  It isn't easy being the woman.  It is impossible to have it all at the same time.  I see many women making choices to fill their need to have their own thing by working and they end up feeling not good about anything.  Yet, other women find the balance works just right. Everyone makes their own choices for a variety of reasons.

This is a topic I can ramble on about for ever but I'd like to see women back off of Michelle Obama.  She has had an interesting career and was probably the breadwinner for some years.  She appears to be in a solid partnership in her marriage.  Passing judgment on how she should work or not work or be a first lady is her decision to make and one that she will probably do with her husband.  Her kids are young.  Let her figure out what the next lady in the White House who has degrees from 2 prestigious universities, who has worked for a better cause and appears to have raised 2 confident young women decide what her role will be that will make her happy that will in turn make her family happy. 

The role of a woman is never so clear cut when there are kids involved. 

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Comments (Archived):

  1. Noah David Simon

    Amen and feel free ladies to support me

  2. Ryan

    Very interesting topic. Am I the only one that thinks being the first lady could be/ is an amazing opportunity to do a lot of things? (of course, I’d be the first husband) And of all excuses to put one’s career on the back burner, I can’t think of a better one. BTW- maybe I missed it, what did you do for a career and are you back to it? And was it hard to get back in? My wife is starting to want to “live among adults” as our kids are getting a little bit older. (our youngest is three) Anyway, I’m always open to advice.

    1. Gotham Gal

      I agree..what an amazing opportunity to do a lot of things as the first ladyand make a serious impact. A career should always be moving parts. I havenever returned to a career but have used all the components that I havepicked up along the way to move forward to the next thing. Working on the³next² thing now. My youngest is almost 13 so what I am willing to devotein terms of time is very different than what I was willing to devote 5 yearago.

  3. pmcorn

    I agree. In the 60 Minutes interview she stated that her first priority is her children and their transition and that will be her focus for now. It’s funny, if she was all about her career and ambitions- she would be criticized for being a bad mother.

  4. Pamela

    Agreed. It’s so interesting to hear your perspective on this, as my kids are very young (6 mos and 3.5 years) and I imagine my role in the family and the workplace will change dramatically over the years. It is so much about being partners, and each partner’s role changes depending on the circumstances — and what we agree to.