I really hope that Hillary Clinton wins the US presidential election. I admit that I have no idea what her politics are, I don’t even understand much of US politics despite a slight obsession with The West Wing. What makes me support Hillary is the idea that, as a woman, she has probably sorted through the laundry basket and emptied the dishwasher before tackling the next steps in her presidential campaign. Yet, it’s not just because Hillary is a woman that I admire her. It’s because she is a mother and she’s living her life the way she wants to. Hillary has a goal and she is going for it.
What I really want to know about Hillary is, does she also get the guilt thing? Not the guilt that we might feel when we have eaten too many muffins in Starbucks and clothes are starting to feel a bit tight, but the “what if my child needs me?” guilt. I want to know if she feels it like I feel it. I want to know if she feels it physically wash over her when she gets home from a 12 hour day and her child or grandchild is unwell and says “I missed you. Where were you?”. Does she feel completely torn up inside and wonder why she is doing it all?
Granted, Chelsea Clinton is all grown up now and a mother herself, but that doesn’t mean that Hillary is any less of a mother, or that her maternal feelings will disappear. It also doesn’t mean that Chelsea won’t need her mother either in a physical or emotional sense. And Hillary won’t be there. As the parent of a tiny person who will attract germs at an unprecedented rate there will definitely be moments where Chelsea is so incapacitated by a vomiting bug or the flu that she desperately needs help. Hillary is unlikely to be able to leave the speech that she is giving or the meeting that she is attending to race round to Chelsea’s side, bath the baby, cook the dinner and take over.
This isn’t to say that there won’t be plenty of support mechanisms set up for Chelsea and her child. There will be lots in place, but from a mother’s perspective it’s just not the same. And whilst Hillary might be able to be there in person for the odd Sunday lunch, mentally there will always be part of her thinking over the latest exit polls and considering how her campaign is going.
It is a choice. Hillary has made an active choice to do something that she wants to, something that she has passion for. Lets face it, she knows this life inside out and the impact that it could have, and has had, on her family. She could have chosen to live in the suburbs, baking apple pies and joining local women’ s groups. She could possibly have had more of a hands on presence with her grandchild. She chose to do this, it’s part of her identity, and who she wants to be. This is how I draw my (albeit flimsy) comparison with Hillary, because I too have a choice. Financially I am lucky enough not to have to work. As a family we could get by without me doing this. However I need and want to work. I have to, for me. But there is a price to pay. For me to get that part of myself back and maybe even create a new part of myself I get the addition of guilt. And I want to know that I’m not alone.
Because if you do feel this Hillary, what do you do?