Saturday, September 01, 2007

sister, i salute you

There's a little back and forth going on at SVMB about Elizabeth Edwards, or better stated, one writer's thoughts on Ms. Edward's choices. The ever-astute Pundit Mom picked up on it and added her .02 as well. I don't need to rehash what happened but I do know that it got me thinking.

See, Mrs. Edwards saw the piece and responded in the comments. A very thoughtful and eloquent response. And as I read it all I can think is what a waste of time this must be for her in the midst of everything else. Having to defend her mothering when we need to be learning about the platform she stands for.

Here she is on the campaign trail, juggling a serious illness, small children, a marriage, and an incredibly lofty and difficult goal. And she's somehow managing to do all of that and during the course of the day or days one or another thing must go wrong. Kids throw tantrums, perhaps she spills coffee on her skirt. She is having to meet and greet more people than most of us will ever be in the same room with in our lifetime. Every word she says is dissected and critiqued. And yet every single morning she gets back out there and stands next to her husband because she believes he has a fighting chance to make this world a better place.

And I'll tell you, it's a hell of a lot more than I do in a given day, running multiple homeless shelters included. And none of you were here a little while ago when I snapped at my daughter and almost ran my grocery cart into an old woman and thank god none of that will make the New York Times or TIME magazine. I get a semblance of privacy, my missteps are my own and my bad days belong to me. Elizabeth doesn't get as many of those moments these days and that alone is something to honor. You can easily respond by saying she chose this life and perhaps she did, but then ask yourself why. Because it must be pretty damn important to her to give up just about everything else to see it through. And hey, it's our future she's fighting for too.

Win or lose, she is out there trying. Like her or not, or better said, like the media's portrayal of her or not, that's your decision. But I think we all have it in us to be a little kinder about what must be an incredibly challenging time. She's not in this for the money, kids. She's in this because she believes she's part of something that can be better than what we've got going on now. And you know what, I do too.

Mrs. Edwards, I salute you.


Kyla said...

See? Your heart, sister. 'Tis an amazing thing.

I wish we all would learn to cut each other some slack in this world of mothering. Her decisions are her own, as are mine and yours, and none of them should be judged by outsiders.

Mrs. Chicky said...

I love Elizabeth Edwards. I love her even more because of what she's doing, keeping her whole family together as much as she can. She's my hero and those are hard to come by these days.

Redsy (formerly CrankMama) said...

amen, sister, amen! more of us should be doing what *she's* doing...

growingupartists said...

But what if..., what if Elizabeth Edwards is on the same spiritual plane as we are. If she's sick with cancer, don't you think she's asking God for some insight into her illness, praying for answers, agreeing to face the tough lessons that are required of her on this earth? Is she not a woman who asks the Creator to show her the way?

What if the Mom part of her, the one who sits silent beside her campaigning husband, knowing SHE could make a difference, if she only had a voice. What if she can sit on the sidelines no longer, watching Hillary centerstage, what woman could stand it?

The laws of the republic were invented by men, to keep order in our society, to allow us to reach our greatest heights. But the laws of the heart know no boundaries.

Be careful Mrs. Edwards, I don't envy your position. Filled with more hope than grace should allow, with three arrows (your children) to focus your vow. Where should she begin? At the center, where her sisters are waiting. But entering the circle requires initiation. And among sisters, only the sacred will qualify.

"We need you to answer for yourself, Elizabeth. Show us how strong you are, let us test your footing." Rebecca volunteers to throw the first stone.

"You don't know me!" Elizabeth proclaims. She looks around for support and everyone gathers. "Why is she picking on me? You've never been sick before. You don't see what I see."

"But I,...but I,...I was only telling MY truth," Rebecca defends.

"Take it back," they command, and she does with humility.

But we do see what she sees, through our own various sufferings. Our own quivers full, ready, armed. Make this the best year yet, Elizabeth. Speak loud and true to us, Elizabeth. Be yourself Elizabeth.

We are ready to listen.

Moral of the story: The stones need polishing, but our aim is impeccable.

PunditMom said...

Jen, your words are so wonderful, as always. I can't even to begin to imagine what this electoral fight must mean to Elizabeth Edwards -- to be taking this all one with cancer and small children to guide and raise.

Thank you for writing about this. I know that what you say means so much to readers on socal issues. And I think this is one of those really important ones.

Lucia said...

I do think she (and other politicos on the trail) should be cut some slack. On the other hand, the way things are in the world today, once you enter that arena, I think you need to be prepared not to get slack. It's a difficult life. But part of me is saying, but she chose it.

Mad Hatter said...

I don't even know the context for this, Jen, but bravo for these words in their more generalizable sense.

painted maypole said...

I haven't been following the whole Eliz. Edwards thing, but even without knowing the specifics, I can only agree with you. And thank goodness no one is following me in the grocery store! Ack!

jen said...

That's just it, Lucia. She knew all of that and chose it anways. Must be damn important to her
because it's probably costing her everything else.

We should be applauding her, and Michelle Obama, and Hillary, while we are at it too. Whether you want to vote for them or not, these sisters are all trying to do something extraordinary.

slouching mom said...

I haven't been following the latest on Elizabeth Edwards, but I agree with the notion that people ought to cut her (and others like her) some slack.

It's impossible to know how hard it is to be in the public eye until you've been in it.

Christine said...

well said, dude. well said.

acumamakiki said...

I loved reading your views here Jen, and I'm really loving the comments.

Jocelyn said...

I turned on NPR about three months ago, and I heard an interview with Elizabeth Edwards. She was so damn smart and funny and charming and real. I was in the palm of her hand. And it was the first time I stopped and seriously considered supporting the *white* *man* in the upcoming race...simply because if this woman could believe he is the best candidate, then I felt compelled to believe her.

Amy York said...

I, too, think Elizabeth Edwards is a rock star! I hate to see mothers criticizing other mothers... we ALL do right things and we all do wrong things. We all have good days and bad days. Thankfully most of us are not in the public eye, as you said, but we should be lifting other moms up rather than tearing each other day.
Yes, she did choose this life and in my opinion she likely chose it to support her husband who, like him or not, is trying to make this country and this world a better place. That's my kinda family! :)

Julie Pippert said...

Well said.

I've thought around this a lot, and like you, I'm glad for most of my privacy---in fact I get irritated with the isolated, individual incidents when that's invaded. So I can only imagine how she feels.

It can be really hard to be related to a Crusader (my word, no pejorative intended). This requires sacrifice on everyone's part, but IMO sometimes some people come in to this world with this big, more public purpose. And thank goodness for them.

She would not be there, I don't think, if she didn't believe just as strongly.

And that gets me to the part that bugs me.

Don't we all say we raise our kids according to our beliefs?

How can we judge this mother for raising her kids according to her beliefs?

Citing "harm" is trying to play a trump's relative, anyway.

I just do. not. like. staring at one slice of time or life or situation and forming a negative judgment...esp. wrt parenting.

I think most kids would choose "go with and family stay together" over "stay at home and parents come and go."

So they make their choices and I make mine and we all feel vulnerable to the judgment of others.

I agree with Elizabeth Edward's response that (you) don't get to call me a bad mother.

Her Grace said...

When her kids look back on these years, what are they going to remember? The consistency of sports, friends, school, etc. are all good (and from her comment, it sounds like they are getting plenty of that), but imagine the adventure and the life lessons learned from watching your parents work together toward a common dream. I think she should be applauded, not criticized.

BOSSY said...

Bossy's heart bleeds for Elizabeth Edwards.

ms chica said...

Parenting is one of the most difficult tasks people face, and yet we often insist on belittling the tactics of others when the make errors in judgement or simply choose a parenting technique we don't relate to. Hell, we all on the same team. We all want to raise strong, self-sufficient, compassionate kids. Why not show a little support to a fellow parent.

I suppose being critical another create a false sense of confidence in our own abilities, but the truth is must parents are flailing.

Excellent post,

Orangeblossoms said...

Elizabeth Edwards has more courage, gumption, and grace than most of her critics will ever hope to have

Magpie said...

She is something. So is he, for that matter.

Nice post - thank you.

thailandchani said...

There are always those who would prefer to destroy than to create. There are always people who have the specter of judgment pointed at everyone else.

They are energy vampires and it's best to just ignore them. The people you mentioned, and many more, are doing the best they can. That's what counts.



mitzh said...

Very well said!
People should be need to be more kinder.

mamatulip said...

This is interesting to me because I admit, I don't follow US politics very much. I really like what you've said here.

Lawyer Mama said...

I encourage anyone here who is thinking "but she's a public figure" to go read the original SV Moms post. It was more than attack on EE as a public figure. It was a personal attack on her as a mother.

I so admire Elizabeth Edwards for wanting to make the world better AND for believing that she can make the world better.

Thanks for writing this, Jen.

Momish said...

Everytime I lose my temper or screw up, I think the same thing. I was appalled when I heard about this and read the actual post. I just don't why women feel the need to attack other moms.

Aren't suppose to be supporting each other? Don't we have enough hurdles to get over?

luckyzmom said...

I think it is better to be for something rather than critical of every little thing you dig up.

Jennifer said...

*saluting with you*

I so admire Elizabeth Edwards, on every level: woman, wife, mother. And I admire her more and more, every time I hear her speak up in this manner. Go Elizabeth!

And thank you, Jen, for speaking up, as well.

crazymumma said...

dudette. I really need to catch up on my news.

Loved your second Burning Man post. Loved.

sigh. I covet your experience there.

Jenn said...

Months ago now, when the critics began attacking her for her decision to support her husband despite her health, I became inscensed.

I'm stunned, on a daily basis, how critical the world is; how easily people point fingers rather than lend a hand.

She is amazing. I don't believe she ever said she was perfect; she is just trying to live the best life she knows how to live.

I'm saluting her, too.

As you--because you, Jen, are also amazing.

KC said...

Yes, so well said and such an important perspective to keep in mind. But, you always do that so well- standing in someone else's shoes and sharing that vantage to others. Keep it coming.

QT said...

If you put yourself out there for the money, you have to be prepared for whatever is flung your way.

But if you put yourself out there for the greater good....can't we cut that person some slack?

Scribbit said...

I'm not sure what's more disturbing, Rebecca going after Ms. Edwards' "bad parenting" because she disagreed with how she is raising her kids or--as she later claimed--that she went after to be snarky and entertaining. Since when is ripping into someone for entertainment a better motivation? If she disagreed with her parenting, fine, differ. It's America. But using her for target practice to get some traffic and laughs? That seems decidedly low.

jennifer said...


Mocha said...

My favorite line of yours: She's in this because she believes she's part of something that can be better than what we've got going on now.

And getting criticized for that? I'm sorry, but NO ONE ever goes into this arena with the goal of being criticized. Who said it her mothering was up for review?

Well said, my dear. All of it.

venessa said...

I really truly admire Elizabeth Edwards.

I was thinking earlier, that I know all of the major democratic candidates wives' names, plus Clinton of course.

And none of the Republicans wives' names.


Hel said...

This made me realize that I should never say something about someone if I am not prepared to say it to the person's face and to stand by it once it is published to the whole world.

There is a great book on the subject of motherhood called mother nature by an anthropologist called Sarah Blaffer Hrdy.

"The single-minded, unconditional devotion characteristic of mother monkeys and apes contrasts with the more discriminating solicitude of human mothers in traditional societies and across history"

ewe are here said...

I haven't read the SVMB post and comments, but your post lays out a beautiful defense. She must really passionately believe in her husband and what he stands for to be getting out there every day and standing by him, and every moment of that standing by is in the spotlight and reported on accordingly. People need to respect that at least a little, even if they don't agree with it, becuase I'm sure they have zero idea what it's like to live with the media glare 24/7, dissecting your every move.

Pgoodness said...

Thanks for sharing this - I missed the original rebecca post, but got the gist of it. To try to tear someone down because you like another candidate or don't agree with her parenting is so ridiculous! I was amazed at the snarkiness and I have to say, Elizabeth Edwards strength and eloquence and fortitude should be an inspiration to ALL of us; certainly not a source of debate. I don't care who you are or what your politics are - this woman is a role model in more than one way.

bgirl said...

seriously...where is the sisterhood!

great post, thanks jen for always bringing this fantastic posts to a level that hits home.

liv said...

I salute you for keeping the sisterhood straight here. As I might have mentioned before, I just don't understand why any of us have call to question or criticize each other when we really don't know what we would do under any given situation. We only have our lives to live.

Ruth Dynamite said...

Elizabeth Edwards for President!

radioactive girl said...

I admire her, and can't believe anyone would dare to comment on her personal life and the choices she makes. The thing is, no one knows exactly how long they have in this world, and if that is the argument against her being out there, then it is just plain dumb. When I had cancer, people always said "you should..." which is silly because if I changed what I did BECAUSE of the cancer, I would be changing who I am. I am not making a lot of sense in trying to explain what I mean, but I just can't understand why having cancer should change the things that are ok for a person to do or not do.

Ally said...

Amen to this! I salute her, too.