Now that the midterm elections have come and gone, radio, TV, and social media will undoubtedly start to light up with talk of presidential hopefuls for 2020. Hilary? Nah. Bernie? Meh.
When I start to think about the great presidents throughout history, I think about Lincoln, FDR, and Kennedy—these were guys with a set of talents and characteristics that made them perfect for, what is likely, the most challenging job in the world.
And these are exactly the same talents that you will find in single moms:
1. Stress Management
If you’ve ever seen a single mom in a diner successfully dealing with a couple of toddlers, you’ve seen stellar stress management skills. Buttering and cutting up two sets of pancakes, cleaning up spilled apple juice, ridiculous demands for ice cream at 8:00 a.m.—I mean seriously, who else would you want in the situation room when it all starts to go down?
2. Balancing the Budget
I have friends who are single moms who, on any given week, need to find a way to make $125 worth of groceries stretch to what could comfortably be purchased with $400. This is done with coupons, shrewd purchasing skills, and a sixth sense for planning. With the deficit the country seems to be facing lately, we couldn’t possibly find anyone more qualified than a single mom to get us back in the black.
Many of my single mom friends deal with a variety of challenging issues that require sheer perseverance sometimes just to make it from one day to the next. Late child support payments, family court, visitation—it seems like it never ends. This is exactly the sort of thing that makes for a great leader.
Being faced with bored little children, a short budget, and a whole lot of work to do, there is an enormous amount of creativity involved in making it happen. I look with amazed deference sometimes at my ex and her ability to brainstorm multi-faceted plans to cover all these bases simultaneously. This, of course, is another great attribute of leadership.
If you’ve ever tried to deal with a 3-year old and a 5-year old fighting about sitting in the one rolling desk chair that you own, you know that it requires the wisdom of King Solomon to get them to agree on taking turns and sharing the privilege. This is not for the meek. It requires skills that sometimes leave single dads perplexed.
6. Crisis Management Skills
When my first daughter was three years old, she fell down while playing and busted her lip. Blood everywhere. I will admit this to you: I stood there paralyzed. The scene of my little beautiful child with blood gushing from her face was so horrific to me, I basically went into shock. Her mom, with a look of determination and calmness, attended to the injury as if she had been doing this for years. It, too, was her first child. Let’s be honest—bloody noses, broken arms, throwing up—single moms handle it with aplomb. Who else would you want fielding foreign affairs issues?
7. Courage to Make Unpopular Decisions
I don’t know about other dads, but for me, saying no to candy, ice cream, dolls, toys, Chuck E. Cheese—not my area of expertise. I have noticed in my travels that many of my single mom friends can stop in the middle of a conversation, deal out some quick and firm parental decision, field loud protestations, and go right back to the conversation without a single pang of guilt or even a second thought. It’s been a while since we’ve had a leader that hasn’t capitulated to their base, but it’d be nice to have one in the oval office at some point.
Most of the single moms I know, while they are generally locked into a very stringent routine of readying children, working all day, and caring for little ones at night, still know how to indulge in a bit of self-care when the opportunity avails itself. They accept their limitations and move past them easily. They are flexible when the situation requires it. These are all attributes that illustrate resiliency—a talent that has always been associated with great leadership.
I won’t beat this one to death, but if you’ve ever buckled everyone in their car seat and then heard, “I have to poop;” if you’ve ever had to go ten miles back to a friend’s house because your daughter left her doll/sweatshirt/fingerling behind; if you’ve ever watched a three-year-old try to tie a shoe, you know what patience is in its most organic form. Another superior quality of a president.
I don’t know about you, but my daughters have adopted almost every quirk and idiosyncrasy of their mom’s. Whether it’s a disdain for anything with coconut, a love for all of her favorite musicians, or even the way she swoops the hair out of her eyes, my girls are like miniature versions of their mom. If you go back in history, every great president has tried to be influential—but would’ve given their eye-teeth to have the kind of influence most single moms naturally have with their kids. Another win!
My hope is, as you read over my little list, you will come to the same conclusion I have. If we want to set this country back on track to being the great place we dream of living, we need a single mom in the White House as soon as possible. It seems so obvious, I’m not sure why it hasn’t been thought of before!
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