If not, no problem!
I was doing some research this morning, and came across an article in ‘People’ magazine from Fall ’08 about Sarah Palin’s youngest son, Trig. I took interest in it because I gave birth to a child with Patau’s syndrome, which is a little more severe, but similar in many ways to Down’s. My daughter lived only thirteen months, but the time our family had with her was wonderful and precious. Even she, with her multiple disabling conditions, had a purpose here on earth. She taught a lot of people, from our family, clergy, and volunteers, to the most experienced neonatologists a number of life lessons we never would have gotten otherwise.
In reading the article about little Trig Palin, I found myself getting very emotional. I’m not, and probably never will be, a Sarah Palin supporter, but it has little to do with her politics. From my perspective, she is a woman trying to juggle the top two most difficult roles in the world. I can’t think of anything more important than the roles of a mother and that of a free world leader. I really take issue with someone who presumes to do both, and expects to be more than mediocre at both. I see Sarah Palin as the poster child for mediocrity.
In my opinion, no one should be aspiring to political leadership at any level if they can’t even manage their own home and family life well. It’s for that reason I turned on neighbor, John Edwards, after supporting him wholeheartedly for over a decade. Even before the news of his affair and the child he fathered with his mistress leaked out, I lost respect for him as a husband. No responsible family man or woman goes on an extended, nationwide campaign trail with a seriously ill wife and two young children at home! Even if the wife is supportive, what about the emotional needs of the children??
Back to Sarah. The article I read had some very disturbing quotes from the then-governor. Wait. Let me back up a bit, to Bristol. Let’s say, I’m a mom, and have come face to face with the evidence (pregnant teen daughter) that I’ve not been handling my business at home, and not paying enough attention as a parent. Why would I even consider for one second being a running mate for the highest office in the land? I WOULDN’T!! Why would I consider it for another second knowing I have a very young son who “faces special challenges” (Sarah’s words) at home, not to mention two more kids in between? I WOULDN’T. I’d probably laugh. I’d probably ask the caller who put them up to the joke. And then I would start being more diligent about keeping all the psychological and physical therapy my family clearly needs.
Okay, now back to Trig. He’s a cutie, first of all. I’d be kissing his little cheeks all the time, and being as present for him as he needed me to be in his formative years. Sarah speaks about being “confused” about Down syndrome, and keeping her pregnancy and the diagnosis secret. It took her young daughter Willow saying immediately after her new brother’s birth, “He looks like he has Down syndrome,” to break the ice. Bright little Willow wanted to know why in the world that info had been kept from them. Sarah’s reply? She didn’t know how to break the news to them (she only had four months to think up something). But to the ‘People’ reporter she says, “Not knowing in my own heart if I was going to be ready to embrace a child with special needs, I couldn’t talk about it.” If I hadn’t been in the same situation myself at one time, I might be giving Sarah a break on that. Yeah, it throws you for a loop at first, but then you start getting ready. And part of getting ready is informing and educating your kids in advance of the new arrival! Their response will likely be just what Willow’s was, “I don’t care. He’s my brother, and I love him!”
There’s something that’s even more bothersome to me in this article. Every pregnant woman knows, practically every adult in the country knows, that air flight is a big no-no in the last weeks. Not only did Sarah board a jet to Dallas to make a speech at an energy summit of governors in her eighth month, but she did so right after labor contractions had started (bearing in mind, that this is her fifth pregnancy), blowing off her O.B.’s instructions to stay home and put her feet up. She barely made it to the delivery room for Trig’s birth. What she had to say about that: “I was not going to miss that speech.”
So, what are we to understand from this Palin tale? What I’m hearing is this: “I may want to be your candidate for higher office, but… kinda not sure… If something important or challenging comes up, just give me a while to mull it over… a few months, maybe. If you don’t reach me, you can always call my assistant, Willow. She’s sharp as a tack, and on top of things. I’ve got a few other kids around somewhere… Oh! and a husband, Todd. He’ll probably be around somewhere. But one thing I can guarantee you! If you need me to make a speech or an appearance, I’m THERE! No family obligation’s gonna keep me from serving my country, gosh darnit!””