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Michelle Obama: From Mentor With Moxie To Mom

Illustration for article titled Michelle Obama: From Mentor With Moxie To Mom

Rebecca Traister's piece for Salon on the "momification" of Michelle Obama deals with the idea that this accomplished lawyer, who has her own, very strong identity, is now a woman who will be picking out dresses to wear to the inaugural ball and finding schools for her daughters. Traister writes: "The Associated Press wondered what kind of first lady Michelle will be, and concludes, 'the kind of first lady this country has not seen in decades.' You mean, the kind with a high-powered job? No, 'the mother of young children.'" Traister insists we don't forget:

Prior to Hillary Clinton, we'd never had a first lady who had a post-graduate degree. Michelle Obama went to college at Princeton and law school at Harvard. She was a practicing lawyer at the Chicago firm Sidley Austin when she was assigned to mentor the summer associate who would become her husband. She was his mentor. And when Barack writes of first meeting her, in The Audacity of Hope, he notes that "she was part of the intellectual property group and specialized in entertainment law ... Michelle was full of plans that day, on the fast track, with no time, she told me, for distractions — especially men."


How must it feel to put all that ambition on the back burner? What is it like to go, in other people's eyes, from mentor to "mom"? A piece in the New York Times notes that Michelle Obama has "only a certain amount of patience for the domestic arts. She is a get-it-done efficiently Rachael Ray type, they say, not given to elaborate Martha Stewart-like efforts." Traister replies, "Hey, here's a crazy idea, but what if Michelle is a type of woman — and therefore a type of first lady — whose professional success has nothing to do with cooking or crafting?" And truly, her story is like that of so many working women who find themselves mothers, or who find that their career, for whatever reason, takes a backseat to that of their husband's. Traister questions: "Why is there so little curiosity about how Michelle will adjust to the loss of her own private, very successful, very high-profile and very independent identity? How will Michelle Obama feel as she becomes what she has long resisted — an extension of her husband?" The Momification Of Michelle Obama [Salon] Earlier: Following Criticism, "Mom In Chief" Michelle Obama Charms Americans

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Hey, here's a novel idea. How 'bout if we entertain the notion that a woman can be a stay at home mom and still ~ egads! ~ be a strong person in her own right, and an entirely equal partner to her husband? I know it flies in the face of reason and defies logic (yes, I'm being sarcastic), but there you are. My friends & I are living proof, and I have to say I really resent the either/or tone of this post and the entire debate about Michelle's "sacrifice" in not working as a lawyer during this stage of her family's life. Perhaps she's perfectly fine with the trade-off? And perhaps sometimes, for some people, under some circumstances, a high powered career isn't the be-all and end-all? Just saying...