Dear Michelle Obama,
The holiday season is here and many of us are snuggled with our families eating, opening gifts, and enjoying the love and comfort of our children and spouses.
This feeling of family must be weighing very heavily on you right now. Your husband is the man of the hour and the whole country is waiting to see if he will run for president. The decision is not one to be taken lightly by any family-but the Obamas' are not any family. I don't need to tell you that, I know.
As I sit here with my two young children, I think of you often. I wonder how you weigh what could be one of the most important candidacies in American history, and what we all hold the closest. How does a family like yours decide between changing the world and risking your lives? Between making history, and making a normal childhood for your daughters? Between public service and suburban bliss?
I look at my husband and my two beautiful children and I wonder how on earth you and your family will make this decision. It would be a sacrifice, no question. Possibly the biggest sacrifice a family could make. We all know it wouldn't just be the usual pressures of the job or public life, it could very well mean the word no one wants to say, but everyone is thinking: "assassination."
The ugly truth is some in America may not be ready to see a black family in the White House. The ugly truth is the decision to run for president could mean the death of your husband or family member or yourself. Is any job worth it? I don't know. There are no easy answers. Would I risk my own family to change the world? I don't know. I honestly do not know.
Here I spend my entire day thinking about how to protect my children. That is what a mother does. She protects, she teaches, she does what is best for them. Everyone else be damned, she does what is best for them. But how on earth does a mother begin to decide between what is best for her children and changing history. Very few individuals have ever had to make this decision. I don't envy them. Just thinking about what you may or may not be thinking is enough for me.
I'm sure everyone in the world is giving you advice right now. I won't presume to know enough about what you are going through to even try to give you any. What I will tell you, though, is you already have the respect of many mothers in this country.
The simple fact that I know you are weighing this decision with such intensity makes me like you and your husband even more. It confirms to me you are the type of people I think you are: smart, loving, educated, and with great common sense. Frankly, it makes me want your husband in the Oval Office even more. I'm just not sure my needs outweigh the cost to you and yours. I don't want to seem like a selfish American, but it will take something BIG to give hope to this country and those of us disheartened, disenfranchised, and just plain disgusted with the current state of affairs. Yes, I want Senator Barack Obama to be that something big. I want him to be the answer. I want to ask you to support his run in 2008. But I can't. I can't ask you to do it for me. I can't ask you to do it for the children or for the future or for the good of mankind. You are a mother, like I am a mother, and I know I can't ask that of you.
I can only wait.
Whatever you decide, the Moms, if no one else, will understand and have your back. If you make the choice to change the world we'll be there with flags flying, and we'll remember the sacrifice your family is making for ours. If you decide to refrain from the oval office, we Moms will know exactly why. We will not for a moment question the protection of your family.
May you enjoy this holiday season with those you love and hold them close,
Erin Kotecki Vest