All four women in the political spotlight this fall fit into the category of Baby Boomers, albeit at different ends. Sarah Palin and Michelle Obama just make it at 44 years old, while Cindy McCain, at 54, and Jill Biden, at 57, are near the leading edge. Though of different ages and backgrounds – and, often, dissimilar attitudes and beliefs – they share with other boomers the cultural history of that generation. Undoubtedly, they have the same kinds of challenges that you as Sandwiched Boomers experience.
We have focused this week on the delicate balance of career and children that the candidate and candidates’ wives’ have achieved. Both of those currently with growing children – Michelle Obama and Sarah Palin – have acknowledged that they depend upon the help of their families in caring for their children. In Michelle Obama’s case, her 71-year old mother Marian Robinson plays the role of nanny to her children. Sarah Palin draws heavily on her husband, Todd, for parenting duties; her mother, Sally (age 67) and father, Chuck (age 69) Heath, and her sister step in when he is unavailable. These women know that they cannot do everything alone and must reach out for support from their families.
As if with children, career, marriage and politics, they didn’t have enough to deal with, all of these women also are faced with the potential needs of aging parents, parents-in-law, and even grandparents, putting them in the position of Sandwiched Boomers. Michelle Obama’s grandmother-in-law, Madelyn Dunham, is 86 and reported to be in ill health in Hawaii. Cindy McCain’s mother-in-law, Roberta McCain, is still independent and feisty at age 96, but at a certain point, she could require assistance. Jill Biden’s mother, Bonnie Jacobs, in her late 70’s, lives in Pennsylvania and her mother-in-law, Jean Biden, is 91. Sarah Palin’s mother-in-law, Blanche Palin, in her late 60’s and part Yu’pik Eskimo, lives in Alaska as does her stepmother-in-law, Faye Palin.
So: Michelle, Cindy, Sarah and Jill – we are counting on you. You know from first-hand experience the difficulties faced by Sandwiched Boomers. We hope that whoever occupies the White House and Vice-President’s house this coming January, you will be in tune with the needs of other women facing these tough challenges and do what you can to help your fellow Sandwiched Boomers.