Support your husband’s dreams and follow his lead, even if it takes you to a place — and a life — far from everything you’ve worked toward.
Take his last name, so that people in your community view him with more respect and authority.
Cut and style your hair to better fit the mold of how people expect you to look. Wear makeup. Lose the glasses. Throw on a dress.
Then spend the next 25 or so years in his shadow, nurturing him, supporting him, nudging him toward his dreams. Make your life’s mission to help him realize his dreams, even the once-in-a-lifetime ones that seem inconceivable.
That’s what our mothers and those that came before them were taught. That was the role of the American woman. For some of us, I’m sure that’s still the explicit expectation. For all of us, it’s a perceptible undercurrent in our feminine experience.
It’s also Hillary Clinton’s story.
Imagine being a female law student at Yale in the early 1970s, having just months before served as the first-ever student speaker at Wellesley College’s commencement ceremony. By that point in her life, Hillary had already helped canvass low-income inner-city neighborhoods for voter fraud, campaigned on behalf of a rising Republican presidential candidate, and even met the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
And yet instead of pursuing the spectacularly clear and boundless path that her entire life had guided her toward — a life that very few women at that time in history could even dream could be their own — Hillary Clinton dedicated what most women consider to be the most important years of their lives to her husband’s career, and to raising their daughter.
And how about that daughter?
Chelsea Clinton is a woman all of us Scary Mommies of girls should hope we’re raising. She’s a graduate of Stanford University, a woman who earned master’s degrees at Oxford University and Columbia University, not to mention a Ph.D. in international relations from Oxford. A working wife and mother of two young children, she’s poised, kind, and has shown that living a life of service is deeply important to her.
Personally, I’m over here trying to find the strength, time, and wisdom to raise a young woman of purpose in the age of Instagram, Snapchat, and Musical.ly, and Hillary Clinton managed to do it under the immense spotlight of the fucking White House.
That’s who Hillary Clinton was before some of you despised her. That’s who Hillary Clinton still is, underneath the layers and layers of skin that a life in the public eye and a career at the highest levels of government belie.
It’s much of this history — well, that and those other little accomplishments like becoming a United States Senator and Secretary of State — that has contributed to Hillary being named by Gallup as the “most admired woman in the world” a total of 20 times, and for the last 14 years in a row.
It seems that for all of those years, people understood the magnitude of the sacrifices this woman had made and the sum total of her contributions to men, women, and children’s lives across the world. Even if they didn’t like her, it was impossible to not respect and admire her.
When Hillary had the audacity to tell the world it was time to pursue her own wildest dreams — the presidency — her likability plummeted to the lowest popularity numbers of any Democratic presidential candidate in history.
This is no coincidence; this can’t entirely be a byproduct of a poorly handled email scandal or a devastating international crisis on her watch. No, it’s about much more.
For months, a major tactic for trying to defeat Hillary Clinton has been to question whether she has the “stamina” to serve as President. Even this week, Clinton’s disclosure that she has been diagnosed with walking pneumonia was met with a chorus of “told you so,” instead of a rousing round of applause for dragging her sick, exhausted body out of bed and doing her job.
Because that’s what Scary Mommies do, dammit.
When Hillary’s health care plan failed in the ’90s, she was ridiculed and demeaned. But instead of crawling back into that proverbial hole that First Ladies were expected to occupy at that time, she pushed through the embarrassment and overwhelming sense of failure that every single woman has felt at some point in her life when she just couldn’t make happen what she knew should be. And do you know what she did? She came up with and fought to make law the Children’s Health Insurance Program, known as CHIP, which makes sure that no mother in America ever has to sit idly by, helpless, when her child needs medical care. This monumental program that to this day protects you and your children is the Phoenix that rose from the ashes of Hillary’s very public, very ugly, failure.
I don’t know about you, but when I fail spectacularly, I hunker down in my bed with a pint of peppermint stick ice cream, a box of tissues, and a whole lot of self pity. But not Hillary.
Over the last several months, many of you have complained that we’re being “too political” here and should stick to funny parenting stories “like we are supposed to” (don’t even get me started on that).
So, here’s the bottom line: You should vote for whom you want to vote for. You should believe in what you want to believe in. But I’d be a pretty big hypocrite if we continued to paint the picture of a Scary Mommy and not acknowledge the way this role has shaped—and even defined—the way we view Hillary Clinton.
This November, I’m voting for the Scary Mommy.
And whomever you decide to vote for on election day, don’t forget to smile.