Bad Mama

St. Bad Mama
August 31, 2008, 1:06 pm
Filed under: Disability, Parenting, Peanut, Politics

People have been asking me what I think about Sarah Palin. Seriously, like random people in the street. The nice part of living in Madison is that you can talk to a random stranger and odds are that person is someone who is also counting down the minutes until Bush is out of office. The bad part is that they may be planning on voting Green Party instead of Democrat because “Obama and McCain are no different”. Whatever. Here, have some more weed.

Anyway, I don’t really know much about her, not being from Alaska, but I have one thing to say about some of the coverage. As you may know, Palin has five children, one of whom has Trisomy 21, or Down’s Syndrome. Because she is anti-choice, there has been a lot made of the fact that she did not choose to terminate the pregnancy of that child, and that is supposed to demonstrate her character.

You know what? I call bullshit. This idea that only certain kinds of people can parent children with disabilities is bullshit. It implies that only saints would want children who are “damaged”. I have said it before, and I will say it again, that despite the stress and worry that come with all the surgeries and therapy, y’all are lucky if your kid is half as great as mine.

There were plenty of times in the beginning where I wondered why this had happened to my child, that I was told that God had chosen me and I then didn’t think much of God.   But really, I dare you to find one grandparent on their deathbed who can honestly say they never once said, Why me? Why my child? about their kid at one time or another. She was my first kid, and I didn’t yet know how deeply and unreservedly you grow to love them, more each and every day.

Like her or don’t like her, whatever.  Just don’t think that she must be a good person because she chose to parent this child.  She’s an experienced mother, and she has money, and therefore is already in a better position to parent that child than many who have to make that choice. Because that’s what it takes, really, to make that decision: Knowing that you will be able to love your child completely no matter what, and knowing you have the resources to do so. If people really wanted to keep the number of people who terminated those pregnancies down, then they would advocate for more services for children and adults with disabilities, better mainstreaming of people with disabilities in school and employment, and more funding for research into the causes and prevention of congenital abnormalities. Because if people didn’t see the birth of a disabled kid as the end of the world because they’d grown up around those kids and knew that they’d be able to live happy lives as adults with access to the healthcare they needed, perhaps they wouldn’t be so afraid.

Somehow, I doubt Sarah Palin’s election to VP will go very far towards those ends. But I’m always open to being pleasantly surprised.

In case you were wondering how Obama feels about disability issues, see his web page on disabilities here. And then you can compare it with McCain’s … wait, he doesn’t have one. The closest he comes is under health care. Just for fun, compare Obama’s and McCain’s pages about Autism Spectrum Disorder. If I hear one more person say Obama is unclear about how he is going to change things, especially compared with McCain, I think I am going to slug them.


6 Comments so far
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Hear! Hear! Awesome post. Yes, I admire that she took a stand and wasn’t hypocritical about it, even though I am fervently pro-choice. However, yes it doesn’t make her a saint – it makes her fertile. It doesn’t hurt that she has money. I work full time and will be struggling financially to have 2 kids in daycare, she has 5 kids and works full time and still looks like a million bucks. Wonder how many houses she owns… 🙂

Comment by Meredith

Thank you thank you thank you! Well said. I’ve been trying to explain to people that if she’s anti-choice, then she *didn’t* choose to parent — she didn’t have to think about it or make the choice. That’s not admirable, it’s just biology.

Comment by Jen

YES. I suspect that having a 4-month-old hasn’t given her a hint of the injustices or ugliness he’ll maybe face someday, so she’s unlikely to be any kind of ally just yet. Presenting herself as any kind of expert or role model after just a few months is awfully presumptuous! And if she comes to believe that all kids with DS get the same benefits and opportunities as her son will–well, that would be a tragic misperception for a policymaker to hold.

Comment by Penny

You said it so well. Thank you!

I HATE when people tell me what kind of person I must be simply because of the number of chromosomes my child happens to have. Because they’re wrong. Stereotypes are just that. Don’t think you know me or my child because of them. Don’t get me started on clichés and generalizations. Geesh!

Comment by Chrystal

Very well said.

I’m still shocked that McCain chose someone who very recently said that she doesn’t even know what the vice president does.

Comment by Julia

This is my first time at your site. Very good writing and I could not agree more with your comments about Palin.

Comment by wjpeace

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