The night I heard James Dobson singing the praises of mother of five Sarah Palin as a vice presidential candidate just after I heard a couple of feminist-minded commentators suggesting Palin ought to be staying home with her children, I wondered if the book of Revelation had something to say about times like these. Surely such side-swapping is a sign of the apocalypse.
I mean, no offense, but Dr. Dobson hasn't exactly been the working mom's biggest fan. And no hard feelings toward the feminist commentators, but since when did they think a woman ought be anywhere other than where she wanted to be?
Of course, I know these comments don't signify the end times as much as politics as usual, but Gov. Palin's candidacy certainly has made this an exciting time to be a woman, and especially a mom. With a simple "yes," her commitment to run for national office has birthed a new and important debate: Should being a mom affect one's calling?
My friend and frequent collaborator, Carla Barnhill, and I have been e-yapping about this for a week now. While Carla and I fall on different ends of the political spectrum, we both love that Gov. Palin is in this race, not just for the sake of the history books, but for the sake of all of us who believe God does indeed call busy, tired, frazzled moms to take on kingdom work beyond motherhood.
Any mom who's ever nursed a baby while attending a meeting (as Carla has) or while writing an article (as I am now), can take heart knowing Sarah Palin has done the same thing—while governing a state. Any mom who's ever brainstormed with or counseled or taught other adults while her young children bumbled and tumbled at her feet can feel a lot less aggravated knowing that a candidate for Vice President of the United States is doing the same thing. And knowing that Palin has done so while following God's call on her life, not in spite of being a mom but because of it, is even more encouraging.
Not to say her candidacy is all picnics and pinatas for working moms. My friend Lori worries that because Gov. Palin (now famously) went back to work just days after her baby was born, perhaps she won't be a champion of the maternity leave, something the rest of us moms certainly fight for.
My friend Carla worries that Palin raises the bar for moms, one that's already set impossibly high. And Carla has a point: While many moms who work or volunteer may see Palin as "one of us," in reality, she isn't. Just as Palin emboldens and encourages us moms, she also can frustrate us. Characterized as "Superwoman" on one campaign poster, Palin can make us feel like we're a bunch of lazy slobs, that no matter how much we're doing, we should do more. As if we needed that extra pressure.
But, I must say, I see something else terribly exciting going on here. I see a woman attempting to do something impossible, even super-human. I see her responding to the nudge of God to enter the race. And in that I see God raising the bar for all his image-bearing daughters, saying, "All things are possible with me, you know."
Certainly that belief is being put to the test Palin's life. I don't think I could make the same choices she's made. I'd feel so worried about my pregnant daughter and so worried about my infant son and so worried about the son going to Iraq and so worried about those other two daughters no one's talking about (maybe especially about them!). I'd be so consumed with worry that if God called me to something hard, something impossible, like being a mom and the second most powerful person in the country, I'd say, "No way, Yahweh!"
But, I'd be wrong. Because Jesus tells us not to worry (Matthew 6:25), and he tells us that indeed what seems impossible to us is possible with God—not easy, but possible (Matthew 19:26). And if we believe God has called us to do something, we need to trust and follow. Even when we're worn and weary moms, even when we're busier than we'd ever imagined, even when the rest of the world (and our Christian friends) think we ought not.
So I think this is good news for moms who sense the call to things beyond mothering. Especially now that we've got Dr. Dobson on our side.
Guest blogger Caryn Rivadeneira is the author of Mama's Got a Fake ID: How to Discover the Real You Under All That Mom (WaterBrook Press), TCW's new mom columnist, and managing editor of the Gifted For Leadership blog. She lives with her husband and their three wonderful kids in the western suburbs of Chicago. Visit Caryn at www.carynrivadeneira.com.
Do you think God expects more or less from moms in terms of calling?
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