Wednesday, February 25, 2009

My Paen to Michelle Obama

I love Michelle Obama. I make no bones about this. I think I fell in love with her when I read this article about her during the campaign. She was in Iowa and tasked with reading a story to some kids at a school. She tossed aside some patriotic pablum called "Our National Anthem" and instead read Skippyjon Jones. Now, Skippyjon Jones is hard enough to read... but reading it while you're campaigning? That book requires you to do a voice, and the voice is like a Speedy Gonzales style Mexican accent.

That choice struck me as so game and fun and brave.

But mostly I love her because she speaks to me as a working mother. A lot of feminist writers have deplored what they call the Momification of Michelle Obama. But that's the thing about her that appeals to me the most. Her Mommy-ness doesn't detract from her professional accomplishments. Instead, it's remarkable how she managed all this awesome professional achievement without relinquishing her Mommy identity. I think that's extraordinary. And the thing I admire about her the most.

Last night during the speech the president (still love saying that) got to talking about Ty'Sheoma Bethea, the eighth grade girl who wrote her congressmen about the crappy conditions at her school, and the camera focused on that little girl. And she knew it and was so nervous! Michelle Obama kept looking down at her, and touching her, and I swear, it was palpable that she knew that girl was scared and overwhelmed and she really wanted to give her a hug and tell her she was doing just great.

And then she did and the smile on that kid's face was a thing of beauty. It was a lovely moment.

I know a lot of my fellow feminists will take issue with this... and I get the arguments they're making. But, it's not just that I love being a Mommy. I love my Mommy Identity. And I love this six foot tall lady showing up on my TV every day and being this loud and proud example of how we can have that identity without sacrificing the other stuff. Well, some of the other stuff. I mean, I do have to sacrifice my sense of calm and order... but that's pretty overrated anyway. Also my hair almost never looks good.