bla-dow!! you just lost your socks

My mind is spinning about this Sarah Palin and daughter story. There are so many issues and questions – did the Gov. display poor judgment when flying at 8 months pregnant with a ruptured amniotic sac? Was she even pregnant at all? If the new baby is her’s, was she irresponsible to return to work only 3 days after his birth? Does her daughter’s pregnancy say anything about her capabilities as a VP? Is any of this our business??

I wish nothing but the best for Gov. Palin and her family. I think children of candidates should be off limits – I know there are things that I have done that I would not want to be attributed to my parent’s decision making abilities. And teenagers have been bringing babies into the world for centuries, and many of us turned out quite good (as I baske in the fact that Barack Obama and I have something in common besides being black and brillant ๐Ÿ™‚ .

The only person I think this story truly reflects poorly on is John McCain, and his hasty decision to choose a VP running mate. I don’t believe that Gov. Palin was thoroughly vetted, and it’s Senator McCain’s right not to do so. But the lack of vetting show two things, at least to me. One, McCain bent to the whims of the conservative right by not choosing people he knew well beause of their stands on abortion rights. That decision does not show the independent streak he is so known for. Two, McCain must think women are idiots who will vote for a candidate simply because of the double X’s. I believe that Hillary Clinton supporters (I wasn’t one of them, so please do correct me) wanted to vote for Hillary because she is a woman AND they support her stance on important issues. The fact that Gov. Palin is so far on the right makes it hard for me to believe that this pick is swaying Hillary supporters to the dark side.

But I really started writing this post to respond to this woman’s comment about Bristol’s pregnancy and its effect on Gov. Palin:

โ€œI just thought, poor Sarah,โ€ said Mrs. Kincaid, who has 28 grandchildren and 6 children. โ€œThere is always one that knocks the socks off of you and keeps you humble just when you think youโ€™re the greatest mom.โ€

I think that is just the greatest quote. All you moms of more than one children – beware! One of those suckers is gonna to turn out bad, I tell ya. And just when you thought it was safe to accept the mom of the year award – bla-dow! You just lost your socks.

12 thoughts on “bla-dow!! you just lost your socks

  1. Your post on this made me laugh out loud. My mother always said that parents really can’t take too much credit for good (or bad) kids. You give them the best home you can; sometimes they make you look good, and sometimes they make you look bad.

    I didn’t think I could get any more shocked after hearing that her 17 year-old was pregnant. I was wrong. What REALLY blew my socks off was hearing the conservative pundits turn her teenage pregnancy into some kind of virtuous experience, akin to Mary’s virgin birth of Jesus. The double standard blows me away (I don’t even know why I’m surprised). If this was Sasha or Malia (a few years older), we’d be inundated with statistics on black unwed teenage mothers, the state of the black family, and how having a president or VP with a child in this situation would legitimate welfare queens all over. Don’t get me wrong–I agree that family is off limits, and that while dual parenthood is optimal, it is not always possible (and that plenty of wonderful people have been raised by young mothers who were nevertheless mature enough to step up to the plate). I just hate the double standard.

    I agree with your assessment regarding McCain’s judgment. But I have to say, I’m just as worried about Palin’s judgment. I know this is un-liberal to say, but maybe she needs to take a job where both her and her husband can spend more time at home with their kids, because clearly her kids need it. One is pregnant. Her youngest is only a few months old, and has special needs. If you ask me, it reeks of neglect. There; I said it…

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  2. Yes, you said it! I agree with the issue of the youngest child; as a mother it does seem somewhat wrong to me to leave your very young child in the hands of others when you have a choice to stay at home for a little while. but she was Governor, and the rules are a little different. Staying at home is just what I would do – every mother should have the right to make a different decision.

    I don’t agree about the daughter – my mom had TIGHT reins on me as a teenager and I still managed to do things that I’m sure to this day she doesn’t know about. And in the process of doing those things she didn’t know about pregnancy could have been an outcome. At 17, I think that you have to give your kids some room and pray that they make wise decisions. And if Bristol made a wise decision 95% of the time she was having sex, can we really fault her mother if during the 5% of the time she happened to get pregnant? Babies are incredibly easy to make (I know from personal experience ๐Ÿ™‚ . Way too easy, I think.

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  3. And yes, some other bloggers have also pointed out the double standard. If one of the Obama girls was pregnant, it would be OVER for Obama. I can just see the headlines on Fox News…it makes me cringe.

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  4. My daughter gives every indication that she is going to grow up to be a Conservative Republican Evangelical Christian. And at 6 years old living with two parents who are the extreme opposite of all those things, I can safely say now IT’S NOT MY FAULT, WORLD. I REALLY DID TRY. If she were rebelling against us, then maybe. But I don’t think she is.

    I will still try to bring her to my side of the fence, but I also don’t want to stifle her and make her feel like she is somehow insufficient for being all those things.

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  5. I’m not saying she should stay home; with the right support and organizational skills, women with special needs children can still work, and should if they want to. I’m not even saying that she shouldn’t be governor. I’m just saying that maybe she shouldn’t take a job that entails running one of the world’s superpowers…I’m just saying; at some point, it just becomes questionable.

    Regarding Bristol, I was suggesting that maybe her daughter, who is now 5 months pregnant, could use her mother–to help her prepare, to help her make healthy choices for her unborn child, to teach her the parenting skills that a 17 year old might not yet have. It was less about mom being a bad parent that led to daughter getting pregnant, and more about mom being there for daughter now that daughter has a difficult road ahead.

    That being said, there is something not-so-right about hard-core Christian conservatives whose children can not follow the values their parents espouse. At 17, no–you can’t control your child. But your very example illustrates my point. It’s easy to get pregnant, and it’s hard; it’s not likely to happen after one encounter unless you’re planning for it, and even then…So the girl is having sex regularly. I don’t have any moral position on whether or not she should be, although I do wonder how well mom is communicating her values to daughter, how committed she is to teaching daughter how to follow them, whether she’s paying enough attention to notice if daughter is not following them, and whether daughter is picking up on some hypocrisy in the home which makes it easier to reject those values.

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  6. Anomie – you have my sympathy.

    ORJ – I hear you, but still – even if her mother were driving the values down her throat, it’s almost impossible to control a 17 year old for doing what he/she wants to do. And maybe she caught some of the values, but not all of them. Apparently she wants to marry the father of the baby – maybe this is/has been her only sexual partner. Teenagers love to get the idea that “no sex before marriage” actually means “no sex with someone you don’t plan to marry” – I’ll admit that’s what I thought. That’s a 17 year old mind. They take what comes in from their parents, apply it to their situation, and act accordingly.

    And I hear you about being there for Bristol rather than being in the White House…but then again, not really. There is very little her mother can teach her about parenting in the remaining 4 months of her pregnancy. Now is the time Bristol just needs to step it up. And it seems she already has lots of experience with babies – I read several articles where Palin says that the baby (Trig) is back at home or in the hotel with Bristol. She seems to carry a lot of weight for Trig’s care. And after the baby is born, lots of advice can be given over the telephone, trust me…

    And as far as running a superpower – what’s your objection there? Cause I think that ANY parent who is going to run a superpower is going to neglect their kids – it’s just inevitable. But it’s a tradeoff, right? Bristol and her baby will probably want for very little, just like Malia and Sasha. But you get the life experience of having a parent on the front lines – that’s an amazing life. And it’s probably worth it.

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  7. I don’t know if it’s all that amazing. Like anything–even wonderful, once-in-a-lifetime things, there are trade-offs; what you sacrifice to have a parent in the White House can not be overstated. For the average child, it’s almost asking too much, although I understand that sometimes it’s gotta be done, and that a parent is by no means per se neglectful just because they take the opportunity. But for a family that has so much going on right now? (and a newborn who will need more than the average care for a long time, if not always)–I’m sorry, but it seems to me that Palin and her husband are dancing awfully close to the neglect line here with a bid for the White House.

    Maybe I’m overestimating the impact of a mother’s presence, but I’m 28 and know that if I were to get pregnant, I’d appreciate my mother’s help! At 17, your brain is barely done developing! If she doesn’t need her mother around, if only to hold her hand, I’d be amazed…I’m not saying Bristol won’t step up. I am saying that it worries me that Palin doesn’t seem to think that there is anything that would preclude her climbing up the political ladder. This was a family decision, the details of which we’ll never know, but it does worry me and reeks of hypocrisy. This doesn’t strike me as a “Focus on the Family” type decision.

    …And I don’t believe for a minute that they are motivated to get married for any reason other than political propriety. It’s been five months…if that were the goal all along, my guess is that it would have happened already. If it is for the sake of appearances–again, another bad decision. Do what you have to do to support your daughter; but please don’t push her into a marriage for which neither she, nor her partner, may be ready.

    Clearly, this has really put a bee in my bonnet!

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  8. Come on, ORJ – you know (cause you were there) that I was about 7 months preggo when I married my husband. When I first found out we were pregnant, I wasn’t that hip to getting married right away – although I knew I would marry him sometime down the line. Then I thought about it, and changed my mind. To say they are only getting married for political purposes is really not fair. I guess I say that because I’ve been in her shoes – not at 17, but at 24. But still – my parents were teenagers when they had me, and got married after I was born – I don’t think you can really put much on the decision to get married. For all we know that kid could be a jerk and it’s Bristol who really wants to marry him and the parents don’t think it’s a good idea but aren’t fighting for political reasons.

    And Palin’s ambition – I think you are being a bit sexist. What does Todd Palin do for a living? Maybe he’s a stay-at-home dad. Why does the mother have to be the one to “be there” when there is a perfectly good father in the situation?

    And on the subject of help – I interviewed a mother recently who told me that when she got pregnant with her first child at 18, while her mother offered advice, she did not offer babysitting! My mother said the same about my grandmother – my grandmother saw us only when my mom was there too. What kind of help does she need to be given that can’t happen over the phone? And she is the oldest girl of five – she’s done a fair share of mothering-like duties, I’m sure.

    The conversation about teen parents always gets under my skin, too, b/c my parents were teens AND damn good parents. They didn’t need any hand-holding. They stepped up and did what one does as a parent – learn on the job. Just like in other “non-traditional” families, I think there is some research (I’ll find it if I need to) that points to the difficulties faced as mostly financial – single mother households, teenage parent households. Bristol Palin is not going to have those difficulties. The difficulties she’ll face are things her mother can’t help for – less of a childhood, resentment at not being able to do the things your friends do – all that jazz that young parents whose lives are disrupted by children go through.

    Bee in the bonnet – you are sooo corny ๐Ÿ™‚

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  9. Good point about the timing of your own marriage, but now I have to ask you to come on–do you REALLY think that this marriage is motivated by the right reasons? Marriage to a self-described “redneck” (on his facebook page), the boy New York Magazine has described as “sex-on-skates”? And the difference between 17 and 24 is astonishing, particularly in your situation: you had already started a career (a high-stress, high-profile one at that), moved away to a major city on your own, decided to come back, and was pursuing a change in direction. You had not barely graduated from high school. Moreover, you describe having had the time to really think about it; being given the space to change your mind, on your own terms. You did not have the pressure of your mother’s VP bid, and the need to justify your pregnancy to the country, or to the whole world for that matter. It is all speculation, of course, as to whether Bristol really got to “think about this.” But all of our commentary is speculation. And you can’t find me unreasonable for (1) speculating that that marriage will not be a genuine one, and (2) concluding that Bristol’s situation is not comparable to yours, based on both age and life experience.

    As for whether Palin is behind it or not–it seems to me that she’s been very comfortable with the fact that her daughter’s life has become fodder for tabloid and more “serious” press alike. She’s got a lot of nerve, showing up at rallies with her “good” (read: un-pregnant) daughters, and explaining to the audience that “Bristol is on the bus with Trig, because it’s Trig’s bottle time.” Which message are we supposed to get? Is it the “Bristol is being appropriately punished by playing nanny to my child who really needs ME right now” message, or is it the “See, she’s already good with children; her own pregnancy will be a snap!” message? (And speaking of Dad, how come Dad isn’t giving Trig his bottle???) Either way, it’s clear she has no problem putting her children WAY out there for her own political purposes. Which takes me back to my intuition that the only Palin pushing that marriage is Sarah.

    I’ll also note that in my very first post, I wrote that both her AND her husband need jobs that will allow them to spend more time with their children. In a subsequent post, I framed this as a “family” decision. In my previous post, I stated that I thought both of them were dancing close to the neglect line. I understand your critique, but it’s inaccurate in its application to what I’m saying. I’m also comfortable saying that if this was reversed–if a man was running for vice-president, and it comes out that his young daughter is pregnant, and that he has a 3 month old at home with special needs, I’d say, “hmmm–maybe you need to be at home more, Dad.”

    On the subject of help, just because women make-do without help doesn’t mean it’s right. A lot of people step up, but a lot of people flounder (understandably), and their kids suffer for it. And damaging cycles ensue. The argument that “just learn on the job; you’ll be fine!” doesn’t sit well with me, regardless of how financially secure a mother is. Moreover, It seems to me that you’re a little glib on the importance of help, but hey, what do I know–I don’t have any kids…

    People like corny…Heck–I like corny! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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  10. and ANOTHER thing…;)

    It occurs to me that if Bristol and her ice-skater are really in love and want to get married, given all the media attention and pressure on her, what her mother should do IS encourage them to wait. As you noted, there is no financial reason why they must get married now. At the very least, waiting will diminish the extent to which their sacred commitment to each other becomes a tabloid spectacle held out for public speculation. At the very best, it allows two teenagers to really reflect on whether they are prepared to walk through life together in this way, and to explore the alternatives for raising a healthy and happy child despite the fact that they are not married. Accordingly, it seems to me that the only person a rush to marriage benefits is Palin. She legitimates the stigma of un-wed single mothers (“quick; get married so they can’t talk bad about you anymore…”), all for the sake of her own political rise. It’s sad…

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  11. So I don’t disagree with everything you you are saying, as long as we all agree that it’s just speculation. What I do disagree with is the assertion that Palin is “comfortable” with having her daughter be tabloid fodder. I think that’s unfair. Where is the evidence that she is “comfortable” with this? I just don’t see it and I’m not sure where you are getting it from. Different people deal with stuff differently. I’m just not ready to say – pro-lifer, hunter craziness aside – that this mother is “comfortable” having her daughter have to face this unwanted attention.

    Two more points. One, “families” come in all different shapes and sizes, and take on all different types of roles. It is not beyond understanding that the older sister would be giving a bottle to the baby in the family. And I don’t think there is anything wrong about that. For all we know, it could be in the best interest of Trig – his mother is probably a little overwhelmed right now, and that energy may not be right for him. We just don’t know. I think it’s unfair to try to draw something about Palin’s character from this one situation. And besides, at 5 months pregnant with my first child I felt like I was 20 months pregnant and all I wanted to do was sit the hell down. So kill two birds with one stone.

    Two, the “learn on the job” comment may not sit well, but it’s reality. At least for me, that’s what parenting is. You can read as many books as you want and get advice out the wazoo. Nothing prepares you for being a parent like being a parent. As a mother I am definitely a work in progress. If you aren’t mature enough to parent, nothing but time helps that. If Bristol is not mature enough to parent, the only thing Palin could do is step in and take over. I don’t think that’s a decision we want to push upon any grandmother. Black grandmothers have been doing it for a long time, often in the best interest of the child, but at the sacrifice of a woman’s later years in life.

    Oh, and at 17 I definitely would want to marry “sex-on-skates.”

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