Over the next few months, the editors of Parents.com will report on hot-button election issues that American families face today, from healthcare to education. In the spirit of offering diverse perspectives on the election, we’ve chosen three moms from across the political spectrum to be guest bloggers on Parents News Now. Each one of them will offer a unique take on the topics that they–and you!–are most passionate about. (Read the entire blog series.)
In 2007, I was in Boston playing a very small part in trying to help Mitt win the GOP primary. My husband, a constitutional attorney and captain in the U.S. Army Reserves, and I had started Evangelicals for Mitt the year before and — through a series of coincidences and opportunities — I ended up helping Ann Romney on a writing project.
In my normal life, I was a work-from-home mother of two, so life consisted of car lines, lunchboxes, and afternoon volleyball games. But during the 2008 Presidential campaign, I spent time with Mitt and Ann, rode on their campaign bus, heard dozens of speeches, and saw the machinery of a modern Presidential campaign from the inside. Once, the dissonance between my normal life and my campaign existence was vividly illustrated when we were driving down the interstate in a bus, while CNN sped right beside us, a cameraman hanging out the window trying to get a shot of Ann as we drove about 70 mph.
That’s when I got a call from my husband, who had just opened a letter from the Army. “You need to come home,” he said, with an edge in his voice. He had just learned he was going to Iraq with the 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment and would be stationed about ten miles from Iran.
Of course, everything changed. Ann called me immediately after I got home to see how I was handling the news. When I was on the campaign trail with her, I’d been inspired by her as a mother –- she’d successfully raised five boys with a busy husband who’d traveled a great deal. Though she would never compare her situation with a family going through a deployment, she did offer encouragement about how I could have a stable, peaceful family even in his absence. I admired her strength and poise, and even began using her buttermilk pancake recipe with the family as we prepared for his departure.
One day, right before David left, we got a package from Boston with a beautiful brass compass inside. On the back, a very touching message was engraved: “May your journeys always bring you back home.” There was also a handwritten note from Gov. Romney: “Thank you for your selfless service to our nation. Your family represents what is good about America. We are honored to call you friends. God be with you.”
The deployment didn’t make politics recede into the background of life… suddenly, it seemed so much more pertinent. The very morning David left, he grabbed a pen and scribbled out a quick note to Gov. Romney. “I hope when I return I won’t shake your hand as a friend but will rather salute you as my Commander-in-Chief.”
Of course, that didn’t happen. When Gov. Romney dropped out of the race back in 2008 during a Washington, DC speech, I wasn’t there. I felt oddly bereft as I sat in front of the television trying to process the announcement. “You see, kids,” I said, trying to put on a cheerful face, “we lost this one, but we’ll have another shot at it in 2012.” I don’t think they quite grasped what I was going through.
But then, I got a call from the Romneys. As they were winding down from the fast tempo of the campaign season, they invited me to come to their home in Utah for some skiing. Faster than I could say, “Mom and Dad, the kids are coming for a visit,” I headed out west, where I stayed with Mitt, Ann, Ann’s brother Rod, and his wife Cindy in the Romney’s home. They even spent a day teaching this southerner how to ski at Deer Valley. I was terrible and uncoordinated, and — in one inglorious moment –- even stopped myself from a bad fall by tackling Gov. Romney. After seeing my incredible lack of talent, Ann stopped on the side of a steep slope and joked. “It’s quite possible that you are in more physical danger right now than David,” she said.