Dumbing Down: The Michelle Obama Effect

I am still in awe of the strength and grace of Michelle.  She is obviously smarter than Barack, yet she uses her intelligence to build up her husband, children, and her community.  She is truly an inspiration. Nevertheless, I can’t help but wonder how much of herself she is forced to leave behind on a daily basis.  Degreed from both Princeton and Harvard, former Associate Dean for the University of Chicago, and founder of non-profit organization, Public Allies are just some of the highlights of Michelle’s impeccable resume.  Though I assume the most life-changing position was being a young, promising law associate assigned to mentor intern Barack Obama.  Well, she mentored him into greatness.
Despite the demands of Barack’s senate campaign and term, Michelle maintained a full-time job making significantly more than her husband, managed the household, and took care of their daughters despite the frequent absence of Barack due to him working in D.C.  Most people, man, woman, or otherwise, would not be able to effectively juggle the roles she had to play on a daily basis.  However, I would guess that some of the motivation and excitement of continuing to work at a demanding job is the fulfillment of being brilliant at her job.  Otherwise Michelle would have quit her job and moved to D.C. to be with her husband when he was appointed to the U.S. Senate.  Even during Barack’s presidential campaign, she still kept her job on a reduced schedule despite the demands of campaign life.  So I know it was no easy pill to swallow when she decided to give up a piece of her to support her husband and family to become the First Lady of the United States.

They have no idea how much I sacrificed to enjoy moments like this.

Women are constantly forced to choose between being brilliant in their careers and providing the best environment for their family.  I don’t think men get it.  I don’t think men can grasp the sacrifice of having to choose between which parts of your identity have to take a backburner to make this family thing work.  Career women spend their whole life learning, being the best, acquiring degrees, fighting their way up the corporate ladder, and finally get to a position where they can make their own rules to have it derailed by their husband’s dreams and their children’s needs.  Yes, that is a big pill to swallow.
But everyday women trade in their expertise in statistics to do simple math worksheets with their children.  The blackberry goes from being full of business meetings to carpool arrangements for the kid’s soccer team.  The business suits once used for executive lunch meetings are now used for social events for the husband’s wives club.  I suppose with time that part left behind is no longer what is important.  Maybe with time, a woman forgets it is there.  And maybe it is not dumbing down at all.  Maybe it is just familying up…until she can get back to her brilliance.

2 Responses to Dumbing Down: The Michelle Obama Effect

  1. Porter says:

    Well written…my wife is a brilliant teacher, however she just bore our second son less than two months ago. We are battling this very concept.

    • mstryst says:

      Thank you Porter! I have seen it first hand and I am constantly wondering how much I will be able to balance and what sacrifices will need to be made. I think all women, and esp mothers, go through it. I know you both will find out what works best for your household.

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