Sunday, November 4, 2012

First Ladies

"Being First Lady is the hardest unpaid job in the world."
                                                                                                                     Pat Nixon

First Lady's - Johnson, Bush, Clinton, Ford, Reagan

As the whirl-wind tour of the current political campaign in the U.S. continues, I watch with amazement {from Canada} at the energy level required to constantly be 'on'.
From the moment a candidate steps into the political arena he brings with him {or her} their family on the quest to succeed. And that quest comes with a grueling regime.

First Ladies are not elected, do not receive a salary and perform 'unofficial duties'. Although some critics would say that living in the White House is not a hardship, I'm not alone in the thought that I would not want the job and constant criticism.

The First Lady is the official hostess of the White House and attends ceremonies and functions of state with the President or as his representative. Not all past Presidents had a spouse to act as First Lady and a relative or representative stepped into the role {President's Jackson, Jefferson, Taylor, Buchanan}.

The campaign trail is a tough one to travel with the public and media constantly monitoring every move. Just the physical aspect of visiting multiple cities and states in one day, greeting thousands of people and shaking the hands of hundreds is overwhelming. It is exhausting to watch the activities and I wonder how they stay standing and healthy through the process.

Betty Ford

Private life becomes public for the First Ladies of the White House. A photo of Betty Ford was published while she was in the hospital recovering from a double mastectomy. In an unprecedented move at the time Mrs Ford authorized the photo to bring attention to the fight against breast cancer.  55,800 well wishers sent letters and cards to the First Lady who's husband had only been in office for two months at the time.

President Lyndon Johnson, Lady Bird and family.

Standing strong together in the public arena has been a tough challenge for many First Ladies. 'Stand By Your Man', a song made famous by singer Tammy Wynette describes the ying and yang of relationships. The political public eye turns the volume up to a deafening level.

Pat Nixon and daughter Tricia.

It was soon-to-be First Lady Hillary Clinton who said during her husbands 1990 campaign that she "wasn't some little woman 'standing by my man' like Tammy Wynette". Later the state of her own marriage would fuel much speculation with the Lewinsky scandal. The former First Lady was both admired for her strength and criticized for staying in the marriage.

One thing is certain, that through this very public arena survival depends on your level of personal strength and personal acceptance. I've always said that no one wears your shoes and knows how tight they are.

The First Lady doesn't wear a crown, but wearing a string of pearls has been a long tradition for most. Barbara Bush wore pearls daily {and did before becoming First Lady} as have most others, but her daughter-in-law Laura Bush rarely wore the crown of pearls.

I don't have to worry about the media publicly scrutinizing my children, but the concerns the First Lady has as a mother are enormous. It goes beyond the things that all mothers worry about like health, education, safety, happiness for your children. The magnitude of the constant public eye on your family is sure to be exhausting.

The First Lady is a wife, a mother, a daughter, a woman who has her own needs. I believe that no matter what the campaign trail brings these women of strength are the hub of the wheel at home.

For the Obama girls Michelle's most important role is being Mom.

"If you bungle raising your children, I don't think whatever else you do well matters very much" : Jacqueline Kennedy

Thankfully there are only days left to the current campaign, it has been an exhausting battle for the candidates, their families and the American public. Whew !!
I admire the strength and endurance of the First Ladies, and admit that it is a job I would never want to do.


1 comment:

  1. Yes a very difficult job for them. The media makes it extremely brutal for them and they usually exhibit grace under fire. I wouldn't want to do their job either.