Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Sarah Palin Question

Last Friday, John McCain announced Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his choice for his vice presidential running mate. Old news today, right?
A good friend of mine asked me, as a mother to five rambunctious children, what I thought of another mother of five in the role of (possible) Vice President.
Very interesting question, I thought to myself.

A small disclaimer should be included at this point: I know as much about Sarah Palin as the next average American does. Which is, to say, not very much at all. (Although the last 24 hours has proved to be very eye-opening, indeed.) So, my answer to my friend's question is based solely on my experiences and observations, and not on Mrs. Palin's qualifications.

First off, it has long been my opinion that if I were in charge of the Free World, it would be a much quieter and lovelier place to live. Don't we all think that... at least, all of us women?

In all seriousness, I have done more (way more!) than my fair share of volunteer work over the years, and have come to the unscientific conclusion that mothers of large families are better at organizing, um, everything. By "everything", I mean that one mother may be excellent at organizing a school office in record time, while another mother may be a superior fundraiser chairperson. Very few women are good at all things, but most are really great at one or two things, in particular.
And, it is a learned skill. I know that from personal experience.
It's called "on-the-job-training".

What do I mean? Here is a personal example:
Before I had children I was organized... an "organized mess". If there were 72 stacks of my college papers in my room and I needed the syllabus for my English class, I could go exactly to the correct stack of papers, and pull out my English class syllabus. And, that was the extent of my organizational skills. I couldn't remember when half of my exams were, and I frequently forgot to mail my student credit card payment. And, those were my only responsibilities. Ah...the good ol' days!
Fast forward a few years to when I had a mere three kids. There were (almost) no paper stacks of any kind in my home, because they were had to be safely stored where toddlers could not shred them. I had learned of a magical item called a "dry-erase board", which enabled me to coordinate bill payments, doctors' appointments, school meetings, and soccer games in one swift movement. I had an entire cookbook's worth of recipes stored in my head, along with birthdates, and birth weights/heights and current weights/heights of all my children. That was only the tip of the iceberg.

Who taught me all of these skills? My kids taught me. Oh, and I made LOTS and LOTS of mistakes along the way.

Secondly, motherhood has taught me humility and compassion, tempered by firmness of conviction. Characteristics which are sorely lacking in government today.
I learned early on, that as soon as I pointed out a flaw in someone else's child's behavior, karma would administer a huge dose of humility by causing my child to exhibit the same behavior, only on a much larger scale.

My experiences with birth, illness, and death have given me a much deeper understanding of other people's personality quirks and the reasons behind those quirks. I try to adopt an attitude of discernment, rather than judgement, when it comes to others. ("Try" being the operative word.)

When I become too empathetic, especially with regards to my children, I have learned to pull back and ask myself if my actions, based in empathy, are within my moral framework. By doing that, I avoid making too many bad decisions out of "mommy guilt".

I know, I know... You are now screaming in fury and frustration at your computer screen: "These are all traits that come with maturity and life experiences in every one's life!".
I do not disagree with you.

However, with more children comes even more opportunities to learn and practice these skills. My and my husband's openness to children and God's plan for us, has "forced" us to be open to different ways of doing things, "forced" us to slow down and listen, "forced" us to recognize and choose those things that are the most important for us. Lack of "luxury" has led us to have a very "luxurious" life, indeed! What some call "tunnel vision", I prefer to call "clarity"!

Thirdly... HELLO MULTI-TASKING! What mother of a large family does NOT use this skill on a daily basis? Most of the time, without realizing it.
I know I am not alone in the ability to hold a baby on my hip, while stirring a pot of spaghetti sauce, and re-scheduling the Brownie troop's meeting via speakerphone. These kind of things occur multiple times each day, 365 days a year. I'm pretty sure this kind of constant multi-layered use of my brain will ward off any hint of Alzheimer's disease in my senior years.

Of course, I know that there are exceptions to the above generalizations. Certainly, there are mothers of small families who are organizational whizzes, oozing sympathy, while running the parish rummage sale. Just as there are mothers of large families, who cannot organize their flatware, let alone their households. But, that's what "generalizations" are....
Generally, I have seen most of my anecdotal evidence prove itself over and over.

So, what do I think of Sarah Palin as the United States' Vice President, being "just a heartbeat away from the Presidency"?

Well.... I have just one question regarding qualifications for Mrs. Palin:

"Do you have a dry-erase board?"

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