Don’t underestimate the Zachary factor

It seems that all eyes are now on Stephanie Herseth Sandlin – will she or won’t she run for the US Senate in 2014?

NSU’s Jon Schaff tells the Argus it appears she’s already made up her mind to run, and maybe she has. Only she and a few trusted advisers know for sure.

But her quote about considering her son’s well-being sticks in my mind, largely because our sons are just weeks apart in age.

ā€œIā€™m loving my family life in Sioux Falls, and the more time I get to spend with family and friends in South Dakota ā€” and how important that is for Zachary.ā€

And so. So. So. So. (Quoting Dr. Suess – can’t help it.) To a mother, the best interests of the children are such a powerful force. My own interests don’t just take a back seat to my sons – I have two, ages 3 and 4. They ride on top of the car, and not in one of those nice hard-top carriers. They are strapped on by bungie cords and baling wire, often casualties to the break-neck pace of pre-school and swimming lessons and play dates and bedtime stories and time in the kitchen and potty training and on and on. (Those of you who haven’t helped a 3-year-old crack an egg cannot claim to truly have tested your patience.)

Lest you think this a lament of the working mom in today’s society, it is not. It is an acknowledgement of reality. And the reality is SHS is the mother of a young son, Zachary. And it seems true that being a mother is different than being a father, still, at least when it comes to career choices.

Some say Zachary’s arrival in the months leading up to her 2010 re-election campaign put a drag on her campaign activities. Perhaps.

She now says he and husband Max and “family life” are a huge consideration in her thoughts about 2014. We ought to take her at her word.

Nathan Daschle once told me that he outright rejected a political career because he witnessed first-hand the sacrifices his dad, Tom, had made. And no doubt that the entire family had made.

I have no doubt that, all things being equal, SHS would love to be in the mix on Capitol Hill as a senator. I also know that all things are not equal.

One giggle and grin from a 4-year-old melts the Capitol dome like water on birthday cake frosting. And that’s as it should be.

If she decides to run, it will be because her friends who are both moms and members of Congress – New York’s Kirsten Gillebrand and Florida’s Debbie Wasserman Schultz – have convinced her it’s possible to be both a good mom and a good senator.

If she doesn’t run, it’s because she decided she couldn’t do both. Not right now.

I, for one, do not envy her decision.

My David, age 4

My Jerryd, age 3

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