This will be my last post on this subject. This woman's candidacy has been on my mind so much since her speech Wednesday night. She gave a terrific speech, and I say that despite my own political leanings. Part of me was so happy to see Trig up there with the rest of her family. A beautiful and much doted-over DS baby for the whole world to see – not hidden from sight, but included and rejoiced over. And when she promised to be a friend and advocate for special needs families in Washington, and the whole Republican house roared with approval, I was quite moved, I admit. (I hope they all will roar with approval when appropriations bills come through with requests for increased funds for research, providing wider opportunities for affordable health care & services, passing federal mandates for insurance coverage for thes kiddos, etc.) And yet, there is a "But…" to this. I've thought about what troubles me, and I have finally put my finger on it. And I will say that it is probably the first time that I will openly judge another person's actions ( I feel I have earned that right because I have walked in the steps she's about to tread), and this opinion may be, in the opinion of others, politically incorrect. That's okay with me. It is what I believe, and that's that.
I would never have made the same decision she did to accept the nomination for the Vice Presidency at his time in Trig's life. Period. I cannot understand a mother who knowingly chooses career over caring for her 4 month old special needs child herself. A child that she carried for nine months, a child who most surely will need major heart surgery in the coming months or years. A child who will require hours upon hours of therapies, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. A child whom she will worry about, cry over, rejoice over every milestone met no matter how delayed, and to dedicate her life to. I know, because I am a special needs mom. And I also know because I speak with other special needs moms every day at my place of employment: moms who are fighting for every last little right to attend public school appropriately, to find health care that will cover the child's condition and keeping that policy, for services & therapies, for a place in society. She feels she can do it all, probably because she & her husband are already raising four other children. BUT…this is unchartered territory for her and her husband. Yes, they've had 4 other children, and they appear to be wonderful, healthy children, and I am so thankful for Trig that he's been born into a family with lots of siblings who surely will be changed by his presence in their lives, and they will be the better for it. (How cute was the moment during mommy's speech when the young sister, holding him on her little lap, licked her hand and smoothed out his hair? Priceless.) So terrific – he's got siblings to surround & love him. But back to her decision: I do not support her decision to accept the VP nomination at this time.
Trig is 4 months old. I so completely applaud her for choosing to see the pregnancy through. But she & her husband have only begun this journey. I'm sure Trig is different already from her other four babies at this time, but the differences will only become more and more dramatic as the coming months progress. They may have been told what to expect, but nothing fully prepares you for what life is like with a special needs child. You have to live it to understand the time commitment, the physical and especially the emotional exhaustion, and at the same time, the immeasurable joy they will feel at progress made. She was absolutely right when she said that special needs children provoke a special kind of love. Absolutely. And she & her husband are only 4 months into it. Imagine the special kind of love when you are a year into it, two years, three years…and you've put in the time and sweat and tears. Mama Bear (or should I say Pit Bull?) protection and desperation comes with it. Sacrifice. There is always sacrifice on the family's part when there is a special needs child. There is joy and sorrow in that. I don't see sacrifice here. I see choosing career advancement over personally investing in Trig's life.
Rob asked me understandable questions: "What if this was a man with a 4 month old?" Okay, this is where some may think I'm sexist, and this may be the first and only opinion I have that may be construed as sexist or politically incorrect. Mothers and fathers, women and men, are DIFFERENT, folks. That's not to say that sometimes the typical gender roles switch and it works successfully and to everyone's advantage. But I would NOT have had as much of a problem with a father of a 4 month old choosing to accept the offer of VP running mate. Note that I italicized "as much." I would have had a problem with it, but not as much as I do with a mother agreeing to it. This is absolutely informed by my personal experience of having been there and done that. I will comment more on that when I get to Rob's next question:
"Are you saying that a man can't raise a child?" I believe firmly that men can -and do - brilliant work raising children, without a doubt. My opinion: personally, I just wouldn't have had anyone else do it. A typical child would have been one thing, but a special needs child is quite another. As Ms. Palin said, special needs children invoke a special kind of love. Again, she is right. Here's my take on it: I carried Thomas for 9 months, bore him, and when the challenges surfaced, my laser beam focus became helping this child. It was my responsibility, my new calling in life - given this wonderful and challenged boy - to do right by him and get him everything he needed to progress and succeed - me personally. I could not have gone off to a full time job to let someone, even my beloved Rob, do the primary care giving. This was my boy and I was his mommy and nothing could tear me away from directly helping him and overseeing every last minute. It would have taken many, many Pit Bulls With Lipstick to tear me away from him. This is why I wouldn't have had as much of a problem if it had been a father of a special needs 4 month old. It is simply inconceivable to me that she would knowingly make this career-advancing choice now - to be away from Trig as he faces almost certain surgeries and definite years of therapies and treatments. I wish that this offer could have come for her in 4 years or 8 years. Then I would not have had a problem with it. How cool would it be to have a special needs child so close to the White House? But these first months and years are critical, and she is choosing the Vice Presidency over personally tending to her son. I cannot and will not approve of this choice on her part. I say this regardless of political party affilication, qualifications, and opinions on hot-button topics. It's my opinion, period, even if it will piss people off.