Michelle Obama is a mood and a vibe on her own. For those of you women praying for God to send your “Barack”, I have a question for you – are you a Michelle? Becoming gave us some context as to why Barack oohs and aahs over Michelle. Let’s dive in on one of the possibly gazillion reasons.
One theme that flowed through a chunk of Michelle Obama’s Becoming is the trade-offs of being a working mother. We saw this from the moment Barack started campaigning for Illinois Senate seat, up through his becoming President. Guys, we wouldn’t have had President Obama without the sacrifices Michelle made, particularly in her career, so she could be present for their daughters.
Let’s not forget, before we knew Michelle the First Lady, there was Michelle the VP at University of Chicago Medical Center. In Michelle’s words, “Almost deliberately, I numbed myself down to ambition, stepping back in moments when I’d normally step forward.”
What struck me most wasn’t that Michelle “stayed back” for Barack to pursue his political career. l challenge you to think – what if the tables were turned and Michelle was the one campaigning? Wouldn’t she still make sure that the freezer is stocked with food before she heads out the door for the week, or call when she has some breathing space between campaigns to make sure the kids’ homeworks are done?
While my story cannot compare to that of the wife of a man who became President of the US, I can draw some parallels, and I think many women can, too. My husband, Seyi, is currently in school for his MBA while working full time with a three-hour round trip daily commute, and also working on some side projects. It makes logical sense that because he has all these going on, I should carry the domestic responsibilities, right? I’ll pose my initial questions again – what if I was the one in school while working full time? Or what if I was making that week long business trip? Would I still ensure the kids clothes are organized before heading out the door? Tired as I may be, would I still do the dishes when I get back from school, because dear husband has been busy with the kids all day? These examples may not apply to everyone, but you get the idea.
I’ll call it “the gender factor”. It passively assigns certain responsibilities to a gender. It’s the reason that by default, we usually expect men to take out the trash, or fix the toilet if it’s broken, or get in the driver’s seat when we ride in a car together. The gender factor is also the reason many women are domestic project managers, with our mental capacities always jam-packed and running at a speed of 20k miles per hour. It also explains how differently the minds of men and women work. I’ll give you an example.
Seyi needs a glass of water, he walks downstairs straight to the kitchen and gets his glass of water. Done.
I need a glass of water, I start walking downstairs towards the kitchen. But then I see the throw blanket that’s not folded in the living room, and then pick it up and fold it. While bending, I spot the tow truck toy in the corner, and proceed to pick it up and put in the toy box where it belongs. Then I finally get to the kitchen and realize there are some dishes in the sink, which I then load in the dishwasher. In the process, I start thinking about tomorrow’s dinner. So once the dishes are done, I bring out the ground beef from the freezer to thaw in the fridge so tacos can be ready in time tomorrow. But wait, is the heater on high enough? I don’t want the kids to catch a cold. Then I walk over to increase the temperature. The next thing I hear – “Babe! Why’s it taking so long to just get a glass of water? The baby is hungry”…and back upstairs I run, still without my water.
I have no problems with the gender factor, but I’m bringing it to light so women can be celebrated more often. So to all women out there with the Michelle vibe, I raise my glass to you.
My only question is now that Michelle is on her book tour for several months, is Barack stepping up to the plate? Granted things are much different now – their kids are grown, and they’ve got the dollarses to outsource a bunch of things. Still, I wonder. Seyi graduates in May, just a few months away! We are going to lock down the streets in celebration, and you all already know you are invited.
P.S. writing this post was like walking on a delicate thread above a pool of complaining OCD feminist water mixed with bashing men water. I really hope I didn’t fall into that pool. Please share your thoughts below and let me know if you will make it to
our Seyi’s owanbe graduation party.
I know I didn’t do a traditional recap on Becoming. There was so much more that the book covered than I could do a deep-dive post on, so please go read the book.
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