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HuffPo has a short article (with video) featuring Michelle's mom, Marian Robinson:
" Will First Granny, Marian Robinson move into the White House?  

I thought about my own grandmother when I read this piece.  Without her, my mom would not have been able to go back to work and then back to school.

She is the linchpin of Barack Obama's presidential campaign, and yet she does not raise money, plot strategy, lead conference calls, or carry a BlackBerry, which, in her day, was an unassuming fruit that grew on bushes.

Marian Robinson does, though, carry an exalted title in this race: mother-in-law. And from that perch, she makes the whole thing run.

A steely 70-year-old matriarch with a raspy voice and seen-it-all laugh, Robinson manages the family while Obama and his wife, Michelle, venture to the far reaches of the campaign trail. Amid the daily chaos of the marathon primary campaign, it often falls to Michelle's mother to keep the Obamas' two daughters - Malia, 9, and Sasha, 6 - grounded, not to mention fed, bathed, and in bed by 8:30 p.m.

The role that grandmothers play in the lives of many working women with children should be honored.  Many of us no longer live in extended family groups, and many of my students barely know their grandparents.

Back in March, blogger Cynematic wrote this piece:
GrandMOMocrat of the Year: Marian Robinson

I don't think you have to run for public office to get the difficulty of balancing work and life. As any parent knows, it's ALL ABOUT THE CHILDCARE. Aren't we MOMocrats figuring out what's for dinner at the same time as there's a work deadline of some kind, and then also trying to decide what should go into the birthday goodie bags and wondering how to get that last remaining item so the kid can complete his or her homework? (And then blogging about it somehow?)

Anyway, we all know how crucial it is to have a safety net--neighbors, relatives, friends, grandmas and grandpas--because inevitably one of the balls we juggle will fall. And I think it's remarkable how, since time began, some people are blessed to have a steel-spined grandma as the hub of their wheel. One who somehow raised up her own kids with a lot of starch, but seems to have softened with her grandkids.

   The 8:30 bedtime? "That's ridiculous!" Robinson said. The TV-for-an-hour rule? "That's just not enough time," she said.
   "I've heard [Michelle] say, 'Mom, what are you rolling your eyes at? You made us do the same thing,"' Robinson said. "I don't remember being that bad. It seems like she's just going overboard."

So here's to grandmas who help make things happen. What they have to offer is priceless in both senses of the word: lacking a measure of value in the public workplace that would do it justice; and something beyond measure: the wisdom, security, and love they provide that has no simple cash equivalent.

One of the difficulties faced by many women is safe, and affordable child care. I had the experience of working with young women in NYC who were part of the Welfare to Work program, implemented during the Clinton years.  I have several strong criticisms of the program, but the things that was most crucial was for those women with kids, were the loss of Medicaid, if they took a job, and where were they going to send their kids?  School age kids still have to come home, after school, and many became latch key kids, in empty apartments with no supervision.  

Those women who had moms to help out and be there made a much more successful transition into the job market, or going back to school.
Their children did better in school, and got into less trouble.

We must address affordable child care.  Minnesota Public Radio did a piece recently: Day care costs create obstacles for working poor

Each day, two-thirds of school age children in Minnesota are cared for by someone other than their parents. For many families, that's a huge expense. While lower income families can receive financial assistance for child care, many working families don't qualify for help. The high cost of day care is pushing many working families to the financial edge.

We must not only address the issue of child care, we must also address support for grandmothers who are doing childcare.

Traveling to other countries and exploring other cultures, I observed the key role that grandmothers play around the world.  In AIDS scarred areas of Africa, it is grandmother's who are now raising the children who have lost their parents.  

The same was true right here in the States. In New York City I observed a special program to aid elderly women in the senior housing development at Union Settlement. It was set up to assist seniors (mostly women) caring for young children whose parents had died from the HIV/AIDS. There are other programs like this.  The following video documents one:

Grandmother to Grandmother Project

Check out Canada's Grandmothers to Grandmothers campaign.

We all know how important Barack's grandmother was in his life. Michelle's mom highlights the same need for loving supportive elders who can provide a safety net for working parents.  

Now that America will have a "First Granny" in the White House, it's time we highlight the importance of grannies everywhere.

Please post any programs you know of in your area, which involve seniors in working with children, or programs that support seniors in their efforts to raise not only their own grandkids but children in their communities.  

Tell me about your grandmas and grandpas.


Originally posted to Denise Oliver Velez on Fri Nov 14, 2008 at 01:23 AM PST.

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