I absolutely LOVE Senator Tammy Duckworth. I love her. Love, love, love this woman.
If I could, I’d buy her a birthday card. I’d send her a bunch of flowers. If it was possible, I’d make her a batch of my best Italian meatballs and I’d deliver them right to her kitchen.
I love her.
My devotion is, of course, a little crazy.
I’ve never met the woman.
But yesterday she brought her newborn baby girl onto the floor of the United States Senate. I wasn’t there to see it, but I’m pretty sure that she breastfed that baby. Right there. In the Senate.
Oh, my heart!
Here’s why I love her so much.
I am 62 years old.
When I was a little girl, women were not able to get a credit card in their own name. They had to have a husband, father or “responsible” male relative sign for them. Women like my incredibly intelligent, hard working, efficient Mom were not allowed to serve on juries. They were not supposed to step away from their roles as the “center of the home.”
Women were not allowed to buy property by themselves when I was young.
When I attended Junior High in my upper middle class Massachusetts town, girls were not allowed to wear pants to school. Even though my sisters and I had to walk to school, we were required to wear skirts every day. In the depths of winter, when we had to actually climb over snow mounds to get onto school grounds, we had to wear skirts.
We couldn’t change when we got to school, either, because that would make us “late” for homeroom. I distinctly remember how humiliating it was to stand in the hallway peeling off the pants that I’d worn under my approved skirt. While the boys smirked and watched us.
By the time I got to college in 1974, times had changed. Women students wore jeans to class, and our hair was long and untamed. We felt liberated!
But there were few women in public life. It was understood that men were university Presidents, mayors, governors, Congresspeople. Women had finally started to make inroads into the worlds of business and government, but every female face was seen as a token. A head nod by the elite white males to the modern day.
I grew up, and I got married in 1978, the same year that I graduated from college.
Those were the days of the “mommy wars”, when those women who stayed at home with their young children struggled against the image of the “traditional little woman.” They felt inadequate, because they weren’t out there in the world being smart, income earning professionals. And the women who went to work battled every single day and night against the guilt that came with “letting strangers raise your babies.” It was a constant and ugly battled, framed by men, in which women failed to support each other because we didn’t know how.
I remember when I was a young working mom, seeing a bumper sticker that read “I am a full time Mom.” I cried all the way home, thinking that because I worked to help support my family, I wasn’t a “real” mom. I wasn’t “full time.”
I raised my three children while working full time. I felt overwhelming guilt with every sick day, every daycare drop off, every coffee date with my stay at home mommy friends.
But now. Now all has changed.
Now the world is a different place. My daughter works full time and has two children. She feels no guilt. She understands that she and her husband share the responsibilities of raising children, earning a living and keeping a house going. My niece recently decided to stay at home to take care of her two little children. She understands that by not paying daycare costs, she is contributing to the household.
Neither of these young moms feels guilty.
And this is why I love, admire and adore Senator Tammy Duckworth. The good Senator has absolutely no qualms about being a working Mom. Sure, her “work” is in the public eye and involves making major decisions about all of our lives.
Senator Duckworth sees herself as a Mom with a job. She understands that working mothers need to be able to feed their babies. Because of that, she has brought about a change to the long standing man-controlled rules of the US Senate.
Senator Duckworth is bringing her tiny baby girl right onto the floor of the United States Senate, where she will be snuggled, jostled, nursed and diaper changed while her Mama votes on the laws that will govern us all.
I am in awe.
I am amazed.
I understand that the actions of Senator Duckworth will have a very direct impact on the life of my favorite powerful, confident young female.
I can see my Ellie in Congress one day, can’t you?