When I think back to where my head was in the days and early months of new motherhood, I could barely get dressed some mornings, let alone find the time to dissect and digest world problems. For me, a proud personal victory was taking a shower.
I was planning to go back to work after a few months of maternity leave. And while I ended up not returning to a demanding 24/7 job covering hard news, I have managed to cobble together some part-time work that keeps my mind energized and quells my anxieties about not staying on the hardcore career track. Some days I am perfectly satisfied and comfortable with my decisions. When I have the delicious luxury of sitting and reading to my children at the neighborhood library in the middle of the day or can drop everything when someone is sick or have the time to take them shopping for shoes without stress or time pressures, I know that my choices about work and family were the right ones for us... at this point in time.
There are days when being a mom isn't easy and certainly isn't glamorous. I don't love every single minute of every single day. But through my own experiences, I have come to realize that motherhood in the 21st century isn't black or white... or red or blue. No matter where you stand -- steadfast working-mom feminist or conservative stay-at-home happy housewife or some combination of the two -- the intense scrutiny and debate over Governor Sarah Palin only reinforces to me that how each one of us approaches motherhood is a deeply personal choice. Despite the hype about the "mommy wars," now that I've joined the club, I believe there really is no right or wrong or one size fits all prescription as to how to be the best mother in this day and age. And while I differ in my ideologies from Palin's stands on choice and gun control, I cannot judge her for her decision to step onto the national stage despite having a 4-month-old infant with special needs and a pregnant teenage daughter at home. How could I possibly know what was going through her mind? Who am I to cast stones?
Like many women, I've been riveted by coverage of the little known Governor of Alaska who's been thrust into the media spotlight by the McCain campaign (disclosure: I worked briefly in McCain's Senate office while on a journalism fellowship in 1998). My first reaction to the news that Governor Sarah Palin would be McCain's VP pick was frankly, offense. As if Hillary supporters would just suddenly fall in line behind a pro-life, anti-gun control candidate because she has a vagina. It was insulting. As I started to read more about her background, I thought it seemed to be a smart choice for the GOP to find someone female, fresh-faced and a self-described hockey mom to boot. I'm assuming that the strategists figured that adding a contemporary working mom with modest roots to the ticket would reflect a modernity and down to earth element to a McCain White House.