So, I’m running for public office…Board of Education. It’s exciting and I feel very fortunate to have this opportunity. I’m getting to meet a lot of interesting people, learn about the great work being done in our schools, and hear from parents and students about their the ideas and concerns.
That being said, it’s also very challenging, in particular trying to manage the role of candidate and mom at the same time. As a working mom, I’m never expected to bring my kids to work (thank god), so the roles never cross. But as a candidate for Board of Education, my role as a mom gives some credibility to my candidacy and as such I am expected to highlight it. One of the first big events I was invited to I was asked to bring my family. Instant panic. How on earth would I manage that!?
I think what took me so off guard was the fact that when I’m a mom…I’m a mom. If I am out with adults and I have my kids with me, forget it, I can barely process a full sentence let alone a conversation. My kids get my full attention, like it or not. Even if my husband is present, my kids tend to seek me out and I always have one, if not two eyes on them at all times.
My son is 4 years old and my daughter is 17 months. So the thought of bringing them to an auditorium to sit for 2 hours while I did my thing as a candidate sounded like a little bit of hell…for me and them, not to mention my husband. But, the invitation was more of an urging, so I decided to go ahead with it. I was strategic in my ask to my husband and he agreed to going to the event and handling the kids.
I decided it would be best to bring my family to the beginning of the event, when I assumed (correctly) that there would be schmoozing before the speaking portion. My daughter ran back and forth across the auditorium while my son kept asking to go on stage. My husband ran after them, keeping them from screaming as I walked around being introduced to and speaking with people while doing my best to ignore the chaos that was my family. It definitely felt odd and although I hate to say it, it was such a relief when my family went home and I was officially off the mom clock and could fully focus as a candidate.
That event was my first taste of this new balancing act…candidate and mom. Next up, two fundraisers. I decided to leave the kids at home for the first one and brought my son to the second. For the first, I just couldn’t handle the thought of bringing my kids to a party where I would barely get to see them and yet be worried about their behavior the entire time. I also didn’t want to ignore them. Afterwards I realized that they would have enjoyed themselves, but it would have been a lot of work for my husband, who definitely supports me in this candidacy, but didn’t sign up for it.
For the second fundraiser, I bit the bullet and decided to do a test run with my son. It went pretty well because the home where the fundraiser was being held was my son’s heaven…complete with a swing set and trampoline. He was really well behaved and he didn’t ask for me during my speech (my biggest fear), so all in all it was a success! Although when I did ask if he heard mommy’s speech, he answered, “Yes, you said wah, wah, wah, wah”. Maybe it is good having them around…keeps me grounded!
So, this past weekend, I was feeling really brave and sort of obligated to bring my daughter to a town parade. I was not permitted to march in the parade as a candidate, but I was marching on behalf of a community organization I co-chair and although I wouldn’t be marching as a candidate, I planned to hand out my campaign materials to the crowd before and after the parade. I also knew my fellow candidates and current elected officials would be present and some would be marching.
I was torn because although there was so much about this parade that was about me, this was also going to be my daughter’s first parade that she would be able to really enjoy, so I certainly didn’t want her to miss out. I decided to take her with me (my son has soccer and swimming) but now I was faced with another important dilemma …what to wear?!
My mom experience has taught me that when attending a parade with children, jeans and sneakers are a must. But, as a candidate, I knew that professional clothes would be the norm. I went back and forth, questioning what I should do and what would be best. In the end, I went the mom route and I’m so glad I did.
As my daughter chased after dogs and clowns, plopped down onto the curb before running full steam into a nail salon, I was incredibly happy that I was wearing my mom gear, ready to chase and assist her in enjoying her experience at the parade.
I don’t know if I’ll ever get the hang of this dual role, but what I do know is that it’s what I signed up for, not my kids or my husband. And, I feel that so long as I remember that and put my family first, then we all win. I may end up a little sweatier and exhausted and not so polished, but we all might end up enjoying this new journey together.