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Modern Parenthood

Michelle Obama speech: Adds Dad to Ann Romney’s tired mom

Michelle Obama and Ann Romney speeches: Agreement that moms are tired on both sides of the aisle. GOP equates parenting with mothering; Democrats seem to see parenting issues as family issues – with Dad just as tired as Mom.

By Correspondent / September 5, 2012

Michelle Obama, in her Democratic National Convention speech, echoed Anne Romney’s tired mom theme but with a tired dad twist. There's something substantial in the way Obama and Romney spoke about that oh-so-common candidate spouse subject of family. But it would be too simplistic to label this as a “mommy wars” issue.

AP/David Goldman


Mom is still tired. But this time, so is Dad.

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is a longtime Monitor correspondent. She lives in Andover, Mass. with her husband, her two young daughters, a South African Labrador retriever and an imperialist cat..

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Last week, during the Republican National Convention, we wrote about how Ann Romney’s speech focused on the trials of Mom – how she always has to work a little bit harder than Dad, how she worries more about elderly parents and school assignments, how she is really just wiped.

“We salute you and sing your praises,” the wife of presidential hopeful Mitt Romney said to the mothers of America. (Yup, motherhood and apple pie. Love the conventions.)

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Well, last night first lady Michelle Obama took center stage, and it turns out that moms on the left side of the aisle are pretty darn tired, too. Back in Chicago, Ms. Obama recalled, she and Barack had date nights that would include either dinner or a movie – “because as an exhausted mom, I couldn’t stay awake for both.”

For most of the speech, however, Obama took a rather different mommy approach than did Ms. Romney. She certainly included some passionate comments about her daughters – she talked of her worries about uprooting them for life in the White House, for instance, and said, emotionally, that “my most important title is still ‘mom in chief.’ My daughters are still the heart of my heart and the center of my world.”

But there was a lot less “I love women!” coming from Obama.

Instead, there were more personal anecdotes of the women and men in her and President Obama’s families working to make ends meet  – President Obama’s single mother trying to raise a son, his grandmother hitting the glass ceiling, the first lady’s father putting on his uniform every day despite aching from multiple sclerosis and coming back in the evening to give Michelle and her brother a hug. And in Michelle Obama's speech, the dads worried about kids, too. Not just financially.

After all, according to her words last night, it was Barack who, “when our girls were first born, would anxiously check their cribs every few minutes to ensure they were still breathing, proudly showing them off to everyone we knew.”

And it’s the president who sits at the dinner table answering Malia’s and Sasha’s questions about issues in the news, “and strategizing about middle school friendships.”

Now, we'll leave the political analysis to others. But it’s hard not to see something substantial in the way Obama and Romney spoke about that oh-so-common candidate spouse subject of family. Something that perhaps goes even deeper than the more overtly political lines in Obama's speech, such as the praise for her husband’s signing of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act “to help women get equal pay for equal work,” or how “he believes that women are more than capable of making our own choices about our bodies and our health care.”


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