Lisa Madigan and the Tightrope We Walk

I’ll never forget the day I went back to work after giving birth. I had taken every single day of maternity allowed here in California and was still nowhere near ready to leave my infant son. I spent the day choking back tears and feeling too nauseated to even eat anything. That went on for the entire first week. At the end of that first week, I confided in a coworker that if I ever had another child, I didn’t think I’d be able to go through leaving him or her again.

And I didn’t. Two years later, I gave birth to my daughter and I’ve worked out of my home ever since.

That’s why I felt a slight tug of the heartstrings when reading about Illinois Attorney General, Lisa Madigan and her decision not to seek higher office. Madigan, considered somewhat of a rising star in the Democratic Party, has been rumored to be considering either a run for Governor or for President Barack Obama’s Senate seat in Illinois. Madigan even made a trip to Washington recently where it was rumored she had been asked to run for the Senate seat.

Instead, she chose to stay right where she is and seek reelection as Attorney General. Her main reasons being her four and one year old daughters. She hasn’t ruled a run for higher office in the future, but for now she wants to be with her little ones.

As part of WomenCount and as a woman whose become an advocate in trying to get more women to run for office, I feel disappointed that Lisa Madigan isn’t going to be running for a higher office anytime soon. Another woman in the Senate would be amazing, another female governor even more so.

But as a mom, I get it. I know because I lived it. It’s the fact that we, as women, are the ones forced to make these choices is unfair. The truth of the matter is no matter how much we encourage women to run for office or how young we get them to start, most of them will have to stare down motherhood at one point or another.

That’s why it’s so important that we create a more family friend environment. Speaker Nancy Pelosi had an empty office turned into a lactation room in the House. To some this may not seem like a big deal, but it’s those kinds of steps that bring us closer to actually finding some kind of balance between motherhood and a career.

Another important factor is getting the men involved. In my house, I’m blessed to have a husband who does a decent share of the household duties. The best part is that my son sees him doing them. So while I’m trying to raise a daughter who is strong and independent, who might run for office someday, I’m also raising a son who understands that the responsibility of the family falls on both parents.

I respect Lisa Madigan’s decision so much, because I understand it. But it doesn’t mean that I don’t wish it were different. And it doesn’t mean there aren’t women out there walking the tightrope and making it work. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Rep. Linda Sanchez, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, and numerous other women in states legislatures and elected positions across the country.

We can make this work. We can find a balance and we can make our country more family friendly. We can raise sons that will make sure that their wives have as many opportunities as they have. We can achieve 50% representation in government. We can, because we’re women and we’re in this together.

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