Other than my venting to Doug, I haven't expressed my thoughts to others about what I think about Sarah Palin's nomination for Vice President. Not that it should matter to anyone else, I trust you all can make up your own minds on who to elect next week. However, since the Get It Down: 31 for 21 Challenge is intended to spread awareness about Down syndrome, I figured I might as well put my thoughts out there about the most-famous 6 month old with Down syndrome and his mother.
My personal politics have always found a home with the Democratic Party. As long as I can remember, I have felt more in common with liberal politics- often, the more liberal the better. Sorry Mom and Dad, it's not that I don't respect you and what you believe in, it's just that I have my own views about things.
Sarah Palin first came into my radar back in April 08, when her son Trigg was born. The Down syndrome community had a bit of a buzz about it and the contributors of the Gifts book organized to send her a copy of our book. We all thought, how hard it must be to go through what can be a trying time for anyone in front of the media. No one had any idea just how public her family life was about to become. I followed news about her for a bit and enjoyed seeing her babywear Trigg and talk about pumping milk for him while in office as the Governor. I thought it was cool that she was bringing him to work and it seemed like she had a very healthy outlook on his future.
Politically speaking, I can't disagree with her more. I am not in favor of conservative politics. I believe everyone (aside from close relatives) deserves the right to marry if they choose to as well as the right to be protected from discrimination. I believe sex education is a necessity in schools. I believe in the right to choose whether or not to have a child, though I think balanced, informed information about the child's future is vital in that decision making. I'm not a fan of hunting for sport. I think it's important to protect the environment. I think it is critical that the special needs population receive the education, benefits and rights entitled to everyone. I think health insurance in this country is horrid and destroys families, I'd love to see major reforms.
So, basically, I probably wouldn't even consider voting for a Republican ticket regardless of who's name was on the ballot.
But along comes Sarah Palin and her beautiful son Trigg.
Do I think it would be totally cool to have a female vice president or president? Yes.
Do I think it would be awesome to have a female in high office that understands the importance of breastfeeding and keeping your baby close? Yes.
Do I just *know* I would cry buckets over a video of Trigg taking his first steps on the White House lawn? Oh yes.
Would I love to see a massive public education about Down syndrome come from the White House? Definitely yes.
However, these are not reasons enough to make me want to vote Republican.
See, in spite of all of that, I look back on my son's four years of life and wonder "What would it be like for a child with Down syndrome to grow into toddlerhood in the spot light?" While I admit that I don't know what the day-to-day schedule of a VP is, I can imagine that they are required to be on call 24 hrs and put in very long days. I highly doubt that a "Bring Your Baby to Work" option exists. I think the responsibility of the job would take a huge toll on a person.
In four years, Sean has grown from a baby needing so much support and care, to a toddler that needs a lot of supervision and encouragement. I'm sure Mr. Palin can take his son to therapy sessions and doctors' appointments. No doubt they will have access to the best care in the country. Sure, Mr. Palin can work with him on his development at home, wherever that may be. But Trigg will miss the presence and support of his mother during this critical time of development. As a mother, I can't imagine missing out on that time.
I brought Sean to work with me until he was six months old, then for the next six months I did a job share with Doug so that Sean wasn't in daycare full time. When he turned one, I went to work full time for a year and Sean was in daycare for 9 long hours a day. That was the hardest year for everyone in our family. We constantly felt rushed and like we were burning both ends of the candle. Sean stagnated in his development that year. He was constantly sick from being exposed to so many germs with his weaker immune system. Finally we realized the best thing for all of us was to find a way for me to stay home. Within six months, Sean was walking. He was healthy again. I don't regret one minute of my time at home, but I do regret the time I spent away from my children.
I can't guess what the Palins' personal life is like or how it would be different for them in DC than it is in Alaska. I just hope for the best for their son.