I am fascinated by this profile of Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers. She’s the only congresswoman to give birth three times while in office. Prior to the birth of her third child, she was the only congresswoman to give birth twice while in office, and prior to that, she was the first congresswoman to give birth while in office in over a decade!
Additionally, her oldest son, Cole, has Down Syndrome.
Not surprisingly, McMorris Rodgers also gets asked pointed questions about how she manages being a mother of young children and a politician at the same time.
McMorris Rodgers often is asked how she does it all. A key answer is that her husband, a retired naval commander, is now a stay-at-home father.
“He’ll tell you it’s harder than anything he did in the Navy,” she says with a smile. “And yet, I’m so grateful that he’s doing that for our kids. He is carrying that load and being with them day in and day out. I mean it puts my heart at ease, those times when I am away longer than I would like to know that the kids are with Brian.”
McMorris Rodgers reminds me of my good friend Mary Elizabeth Fabian, who recently ran for a seat in the Colorado State House of Representatives — and whose husband is also former-military-turned-SAHD! I totally understand why supervising soldiers would be an easier job than running herd over little kids — no diapers and they can feed themselves, too. Still, I have to imagine there’s some crossover with those skillsets.
McMorris Rodgers says about her husband:
[…] Brian sometimes acts as a boxing coach, which can come in handy in Washington.
“I’ll retreat to my corner, and he’ll clean me up and encourage me and then send me back into the fight,” she says.
I love seeing strong and confident husbands willing and able to step up to support and encourage their equally strong and confident wives in their careers!
She is happy to serve as a role model for working moms, and hopes her story can inspire other women to follow in her footsteps.
“Whenever I talk to another woman whether they’re married, or not, have kids, the first question they asked me is ‘how do you do it?’ And it’s a lot of other people that make it possible, but if I can do it other women can do it,” she says.
But McMorris Rodgers looks forward to the day when women like her aren’t asked that question: how do you do it all?
“Men have done it one way and we become accustomed to the way that men may approach serving in Congress, having families, doing their roles. And women are going to do it a little different, and so it’s still somewhat new,” she explains.
“Sometimes we get caught up in how someone is doing it rather than just being focused on, wow she’s she’s getting it done, she’s making a difference,” she says.
She’s admits — that may take some time.
She’s absolutely spot-on — the wombless male body has always been seen as normative in the professional sphere, and that’s often still the case. Look how long it took to get the government to allow breastfeeding on the floor of Congress.
I’m grateful to women like McMorris Rodgers who are challenging that paradigm and blazing a trail for the women who will come after her.
Progress is slow, but I think we are making inroads as more and more working mothers join the workforce, climb the corporate ladder, and run for political office.