The election is over and most of our newsfeeds are still buzzing about with governmental topics and ideals from our friends (or folks you knocked off your friends list). I always try to follow elections and the campaign coverage to familiarize myself with the topics and opinions of candidates. Maybe some of that comes from my grandfather who raised us to honor The United States and our rights as citizens to vote. I do tend to find the candidates and their families fascinating. The most interesting position to me after an election though, when all the hype dies down, is to watch the role of the new First Lady take shape.
There seem to be so many facets of the title of First Lady and its definitely more than a job, but a lifestyle; One that so many people cannot identify with. It encumbers so many facets, beginning with picking out the interior décor with the White House Staff interior decorators to finding a supporting campaign that you believe in and promote as your own. I honestly can’t imagine what it feels like to be swept into the position after long campaigns and the emotional toll of an election. And the initial first time that you step foot into The White House as The President Elect’s wife, it must be surreal and overwhelming to be welcomed by the current family. Today was the first day that our upcoming First Lady Melania was welcomed by the current First Lady, Michelle. And traditionally, this day is just as awkward as it seems.
There’s a great book called “First Women: The Grace and Power of America’s Modern First Ladies,” (adapted story below: HarperCollins, copyright 2016, ) that discusses more in depth the awkward welcomes that many of our former First Ladies have endured. Occasionally, some women have resented the upcoming First Lady and this was noted in the above book between Mamie Eisenhower and the young Jacqueline Kennedy. Photos show them all smiles, but supposedly Mamie was upset and hesitantly wanted to leave The White House digs with a “college girl”. When her invitation to view The White House finally came, Jackie was post op from her Cesarean section and still coping with childbirth. Mamie requested that a wheelchair be placed by the door in the event she needed it as a kind, sincere gesture. Jackie, who reports say was pale and insisted on walking, toughed out the tour of over 30 rooms before leaving. Years later when asked why she didn’t use Mamie’s ordered wheelchair, she laughed and simply stated “she was too afraid of Mrs. Eisenhower to ask”.
Then, there are those who seemed to drag out the home tour as when Nancy Reagan finally agreed to give Barbara Bush a view of her new pad only 9 days before moving in in 1989. Rumors did circle that they had quite a difficult relationship and didn’t much communicate with each other. I guess being classified with the title of First Lady doesn’t bond everyone.
When Hillary Clinton was First Lady she gave Laura Bush a tour with daughter Chelsea in tow. Laura reported that Hillary was kind and showed all the grounds and every room, even opening a door so they could walk through the Red, Blue and Green rooms – only to find a group of White House tourists staring back at them in a very awkward fashion. Could. You. Imagine?
My all time favorite tradition that the sorority of First Ladies share is one perfect spot in the ladies dressing room. The story goes that Hillary stood in one location of the room, and told Laura Bush that “her mother in law (speaking of Barbara Bush) stood right here and told me that if I looked out this window, you can see straight through the Rose Garden and spot your husband working in the Oval Office”. Laura Bush shared that same story with Michelle Obama 8 years later. And in my mind, I can only think that Michelle shared this same beautiful space with Melania today. I hope the saying rings true that behind every successful man is a even more successful woman and God Bless America.
All my Love,