Oh, Michelle Obama. I wish you hadn't said it. I truly wish you hadn't said that at the end of the day, "Mom in chief" is your most important title.
You see, I was a mom in chief for the past 11 years and what I learned is that the title only applies to married women. I am going through a divorce, and during this 11-year marriage, I had four children and proudly managed everything on the home front while my husband controlled all of the financial issues. It was a perfect division of labor.
My husband actually encouraged and supported me staying at home full-time and raising our children. He often told me what a wonderful mother I was and how lucky our children were to have such an incredible mom (I have the emails and cards).
During my tenure, I took my "Mom In Chief" title very seriously. During the first year of our twins' lives, I slept no more than an hour at a time. Over the past 11 years, I volunteered countless hours at over five different schools. I coached sports teams. I planned vacations, social outings and play dates for our family. I set the timer for homework, read stories and colored thousands of pictures. I explored the world with my kids via zoos, museums, and field trips. I took the kids to church, taught them their prayers and helped them make sandwiches for the homeless. I wiped away tears from hurt feelings to stomachaches. And I always encouraged the kids to dream big and to find life's adventures.
I did everything within my power to create a strong base for my children with an eye on the future. I completely understood the most important task that had been set before me: to raise children who are independent, empathetic, capable leaders for the future.
And then, standing in the family law courtroom, I heard a judge, my husband and his attorney tell me to get a "real job." When I said that I was caring for four children full-time, the youngest of whom was three years old, I was told that the kids could go to daycare like thousands of other American children. I was told that my role as a mom was no longer as important as my role as a career woman.
I've never felt so worthless in my life. Everything I had accomplished in the past 11 years was being equated to a dollar sign and I came up short. "Mom In Chief" has no value in the real world and no one cares -- not even the husband who had previously supported me in the role.
Driving home from court, it hit me that it is only during marriage that your role as a mother is appreciated and valued by society. When you face divorce, the same system that recognizes the incredible value in your children's lives will strip you of your title and devalue your contributions. You earn no credit for being a mom.
Given my experience, I've made it my personal mission to re-educate my two daughters that "Woman in Chief" is the title to which they should aspire.
I tell them that if they choose to have children, they need to carefully balance their role as a mom with their role as a strong, independent career woman. I caution them to not completely lose the "me" when they become a "mommy" because if they fall in with statistics and become one of the 50+ percent of married couples who divorce, they will be left without any bankable value.
I want my girls to succeed in all areas of their lives and not feel that at the end of the day, the most important title is "mom." If and when that title is stripped away, I don't want them standing in a courtroom feeling worthless.
So, with all due respect Mrs. Obama, will you retitle yourself "Woman in Chief" to help shift the message to our young girls?
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