Mommy Wars and First Ladies

Introduced: May 01 2012

Since Hillary Rosen re-opened the "Mommy Wars" can of worms, the spotlight has been on Ann Romney, and we've had four years to get to know Michelle Obama. What qualities do you admire in each of them? What influence do you think they will have in their husbands' race for President? And if you have feelings about the Mommy Wars, tell us

Note from IWD: Hillary Rosen is an advisor to the Democrats who said Ann Romney "has never worked a day in her life." She did explain later that she meant to say Ann Romney's experience is not the same as moms who, for financial reasons, don't have the choice to stay home while raising their children. In the days that followed, both Democrats and Republicans jumped into the discussion -- and tried to use the topic to their advantage with women voters.


Note From IWD: "Weigh-Ins" are no longer an active feature on IWD. Our members expressed a preference for longer dialogues. The content of the previous Weigh-Ins remains on the site for your enjoyment and enlightenment. 

Member Responses


This topic was proposed by IWD as a way to “cross the aisle” and find something positive to say about Michelle Obama and Ann Romney, regardless of your politics. Americans are not exactly sure what we want our First Ladies to be…involved or out of the way. We received many positive comments about both of the women whose husbands will (most likely) run against each other in the 2012 election.

What you like about Michelle Obama:

She represents the U.S. well.

She’s adjusted to her new role with dignity and grace.

She has a terrific fashion sense, she is elegant and modern.

She is a good role model for any woman, especially the smart black woman.

She seems to be a very good mother, setting rules and responsibilities for her daughters.

She’s self confident enough to dance, do push-ups, play games, garden, take part in things..

She works on behalf of military families.

She has addressed the problem of childhood obesity.


What you like about Ann Romney:

She’s brave – she has faced multiple challenges – raising five boys, being in the political spotlight, dealing with multiple sclerosis breast cancer.

She’s worked for many years on behalf of underprivileged children. One IWD member mentioned she'd read that Anne Romney became involved in these efforts after she was driving her own sons somewhere and saw boys in a van headed to a Massachusetts youth detention center.

She seems to bring out a softer, more human side of her husband.

She is refreshing. She seems very normal – and sometimes says what might be considered a “wrong” thing politically – but at least seems real. 

She has a clean, classic American style.

She wasn’t afraid to speak up for herself after the comment by Hillary Rosen.

On the topic of "Mommy Wars":

 IWD members who responded seem to feel that the “Mommy Wars” are exaggerated by the media and don’t really resonate with their own experience.


Some comments:


I am encouraged by the fact that most people are quick to discount any new version of “Mommy Wars” and recognize that women are not pitted against each other on this topic.


I guess like anything else, you are affected most by what is closest to you. I have two young children and I work four days a week. Unlike in my mom’s generation, most of my friends are in similar situations. I don’t personally have that many friends who don’t work at all – but I find without exception that women are eager to help each other out, swap duties, fill in the gaps. I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without help from other women – so in my world, there is no war.


I’m glad we had a chance to comment. When I worked, I felt that other mothers at my child’s school who didn’t work tended to stick together. Now that I am at home with my third child, I feel it’s having the affect of making me less interesting to women who work. Not my good friends, of course, but women whom I meet in new situations.


I took stock the other day and realized that I’ve worked more consistently than anyone who is my friend through neighborhood/community circles – and that I have more children and a more complicated home/family situation than anyone I work with. At times, I feel like I have one foot on the dock and the other on a boat that drifts from the dock and that it is a stretch that threatens to “split me.” But it is my choice. And we all have to life with our choices, both the ones that make our lives easier and the ones that make our lives harder.


I have always been determined to not let work interfere with anything I thought a mother “should” do. So I keep my work at arm’s length. I haven’t hopped onto the traditional corporate ladder where obligations and expectations would climb with me. I know I would resent being captive in a meeting scheduled by someone else, so I've chosen to be a consultant and set up my own meetings. I realize I’m giving up power and prestige for freedom and flexibility.  I juggle ferociously so that I can somehow fit it all in. The price I pay is having very little downtime. The benefits to my children are that I can be a very active, involved mother (maybe too much so at times); the price they pay is that I may not have enough time for the little moments that just happen if they aren’t filled with something else.


Do men talk about "Daddy Wars" because there are some who work all the time and some who have flexible schedules so thay can attend school functions and coach t-ball teams. Once again, are women being held to standards while men are off the hook?