How motherhood prepares you for politics
SusanG on DailyKos
From the moment a child is born, you are forced to put your own needs (primarily sleep, in the beginning) on hold. You immediately begin the task of balancing long-term and short-term goals, weighing, for example, the need to bring income in for the growing family against the commitment to spend time with your child, or your own requirement down the road a bit for rehabilitative solitude against the constant chatter of a toddler just discovering language. You learn to gauge your limits of self-sacrifice, the places where diminishing returns set in, where you’re being a plain old mean person because you’ve embraced the role of persecuted-by-sippy-cup-wielding-beings martyr. You learn to give more of yourself than you ever imagined yourself capable of giving, but if you want to bring your child to adulthood without you doing a stint or two in an asylum, you also learn to say, "No." Quite often, in fact.
More than anything, you learn to explain yourself, especially about those "No’s." Over and over, in a dozen different ways, using scores of different metaphors to get your point across, you begin to blend your child into a family culture, and later that of society, by articulating and examining your own deep beliefs about how we all hang together as a unit. You are forced to explain very, very consciously for the first time responsibilities to self and others, about the common good of the family, about why it’s important that your 10-year-old forego a slumber party in order to visit a boring grandparent. Add another child to the mix and you’ve truly set up a parallel with the single-issue political groups on a painful personal level, when you find yourself explaining to your daughter that the family’s financial commitment to providing piano lessons for her brother precludes at this time the ability to pay for an expensive summer camp she wants to attend. Oy. Such conflicts are constant and recurring, and they make the shouldering and shoving at the Democratic interest table look like a friendly game of contract bridge. You learn to barter, broker power or die.