Jill Biden to moms: ‘You’re not failing. You’re strong. And you’re doing your best’


Dr. Jill Biden has an exclusive interview in Parents Magazine. Jill was a working mom as she raised her children. Not only did she work a job, but she also continued her education within her field, ultimately obtaining a PhD in education. She will be the first woman to continue to work the job she held prior to office while serving as FLOTUS. Jill said working while Joe Biden served as vice president gave her a good perspective on both being in the administration and the people they served. She wants that same experience now, which is incredibly insightful, if you think about it. Parents Mag asked her about the challenges of being a working mom when she was doing it but also, about the unique challenges parents face now, during the pandemic. Jill said moms today need to give themselves a break because they are doing just fine.

Why has the pandemic dealt such an unfair blow to working moms?
Many moms were having a hard time juggling it all before the pandemic. Now they can’t send their kids to school while they work. There are no playdates to help burn off energy. They’ve lost the network of family and friends who can help out. And they’re expected to supervise remote learning while working or job hunting.

During the campaign, I met a mom with a son with a disability. His remote learning required more supervision than she could provide while working. She made less than her husband, so of course, she was the one to quit. I think stories like that are playing out in a lot of homes.

What would you say to the thousands of women who are struggling?
Maybe you’ve made mac ‘n’ cheese for dinner one too many times. Maybe your temper is shorter than usual. Maybe you’re too tired to be the “fun mom.” It’s okay. You’re not failing. You’re strong. You’re resilient. And you’re doing your best to carry your family through one of the most difficult times in memory. We’re going to do everything we can to get through this, together.

[From Parents Magazine]

As you know, I have a great deal of respect for Jill. Parents Mag tends to throw soft balls in their interviews. So I understand that is what they are looking for from Jill and that’s what she gave them. Things are extremely hard for families right now. I think most of us get that we can’t do it all when it comes to doing the dishes and serving the same thing for dinner. But there is a psychological toll that comes from missing the mark when our loved ones need our help emotionally, academically or whatever and we feel we’ve fallen short. Unfortunately, those are the things we replay in our minds, not the times during the pandemic we nailed it. So it’s hard to see our successes while while we’re still in it.

Yes, most of us will get through this. Some of us will be fortunate to do so together. We are strong and resilient. But I recognize that’s not really making any of this easier right now.

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17 Responses to “Jill Biden to moms: ‘You’re not failing. You’re strong. And you’re doing your best’”

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  1. C-Shell says:

    The juxtaposition of this article next to Top CEO Zooming with teachers would be jarring if it weren’t such an excellent demonstration of substance over fluff. Thanks, Hecate. Dr. Jill is truly a wonderful, consequential person. I can’t wait to see what she does as FLOTUS.

    • SarahCS says:

      Oh my goodness that is exactly what I thought! The comments on Duchess Do-Little are to the effect of how can she be so clueless and this is why, she’s spent her life wrapped in her little bubble with no interest at all in seeing how anyone else lives or the challenges they face.

      Loving seeing Dr Jill getting on with being an active and visible First Lady.

  2. Emm says:

    Gosh I wish I could say this makes me feel better but it doesn’t. I am outnumbered at home and am mentally and physically exhausted from basically a year of isolation. I thought I was doing ok but somethings came to light recently that have shaken me to my core and I feel like a complete failure as a mom and I have no idea how to change it or even where to start. This whole year has been awful and I used to believe it when people said you are doing better then you think but now I know that’s not the case and I have extended myself to the limit. I am no longer a person, I am mom. Everything I do is for the kids but if I stop and take sometime to myself I fall behind in something else or it doesn’t get done and just adds to the pile of stuff that I need to do.

    • JanetDR says:

      You are enough @ Em, just as it is. You don’t have to do everything, just be present, read to them, talk to them and spend some time in the bathtub after they are asleep. Whatever the big thing is, it’s not because of you, but you will find a way to deal with it. Sending a big hug ((<3))

    • Ashley says:

      EMM, I feel you and am right there with you. Three kids at home here – two in virtual school with one of them special needs, and one in the terrible two stage. Some days I feel good, and some days I feel like an utter failure. When I feel overwhelmed like you are describing, I find simplifying down to the bare bones of what has to happen that day helps me take action and avoid getting anxiety paralysis. One day at a time. We can do this.

    • Esmom says:

      Oh, Emm, I wish I had some words of wisdom to make you feel less overwhelmed. My kids are in college now but my older one has special needs and I had years where I felt like every reserve of patience and energy was just tapped out. I can’t imagine how the isolation of a pandemic would have compounded that. Deep breaths and take it one day, one hour, at a time.

    • Mina_Esq says:

      Emm! I wish I could give you a hug. When I’m losing my mind I try to remember the biggest gift my mom gave me that helped me overcome every low point – the confidence in knowing that there is that one person that absolutely loves and supports you. If I can instil that confidence and security in my kid, I’ll consider my efforts a success.

    • Emm says:

      Thank you all for your sweet and encouraging words. I really do feel them and appreciate them so much. I’m just going to try and make it one day at a time and change my mindset, my priorities, my behaviors, and then hope and pray that changes for my kids as well. I also have a daughter with special needs and feel she is not getting what she deserves and the guilt is so heavy. There just needs to be a big change in our house. My kids are not the kids I thought I was raising and I’m just shattered. My hope is that because they are young we can still figure this out.

      • AnotherMother says:

        Mom of two kids with extra needs here, rocking along in another boat, side by side, not able to help anyone else on the days when too frantically bailing my own. I decided to take a break from facilitating classroom/online learning last fall, school district expectations be damned. I was exhausted from fighting every day with the kids, from feeling like we weren’t accomplishing the district’s standards. Instead we read, they read, we listened to A LOT of audiobooks. We sent postcards to friends, so they practiced writing, we worked on life skills so they might be able to manage them on their own someday. I was fortunate enough to be able to choose mental health, mine included. There are other moms, dads, grandparents feeling the same overwhelmed feelings. Isolation does that. Worry does that. Creates a black hole of doubt. Some days feel impossible. It’s like having an infant again. Clock watching, second guessing everything. Knowing everyone is managing better than you. But nope. We are all scrambling. Apart. At the same time. Together. So maybe that helps?

      • RK says:

        I just wanted to say I SEE you. My 7yo has extra needs, my 4yo just came out as a girl, my husband and I both work FT and we feel like failing a million different ways with zero capacity to process or take care of our kids’ non-Maslow needs, let alone ours. We are broken and breaking and still waking up to do it all again. The truth is, the *world* is failing us right now. We are being asked to do the work of an entire village while swimming through oceans of trauma. You are doing the best you can. And you will take whatever new information you’ve just learned, and adjust and figure it out. Yet again. You are not enough, but you’ll be enough for now, because you have to be.

    • Sam the Pink says:

      Let me share some words of wisdom I’ve come to believe since having kids (and I have 5) – when your kids look back over their childhoods, they aren’t going to remember that mom let them have takeout too many times, or that she got behind on the laundry or anything like that. They will remember how you made them feel – safe, protected, supported, etc. If you are taking the time to encourage them, support them, and let them know you are there, that can be enough now. We live in scary times (we always do, to some extent, but now more than ever). Don’t sweat the things that, in the end, are not going to matter. Let some stuff get behind, if that helps you. Trust me, they don’t care. They won’t care. Those things are not the measure of a good mother.

  3. Cafecito says:

    I’m glad she said it. Besides my father, nobody has ever mentioned anything like this to me.

    I’ve been told that this is what being a mom is, and that everyone is a working mom. It’s completely normal and everyone manages just fine to do everything. Ha! Yes, Lots of empathy around me!

  4. GrnieWnie says:

    My God. A First Lady who can speak to the working class. It’s been so long.

    • Esmom says:

      Her empathy is something to behold, isn’t it? It really is unconscionable how very little effort Melania made with the considerable platform she was given.

      I just wish the MAGAs who need to see an example like Dr. Jill’s actually do see it but I fear they will automatically disregard anything she says or does out of their extreme and misguided partisanship.

  5. lucy2 says:

    She gets it. I don’t even have kids, but I can tell she gets it. We are so lucky to have Dr. FLOTUS!

  6. Lady Keller says:

    I’m so sick of this faux feel good positivity. Guess what Dr. Jill, I am failing. I’m failing every single day. My kids are regressing, I’ve probably psychologically scarred them for life, and I’m going to lose my house. Things like this just make me feel worse.

  7. Meg says:

    im not even a mom and her ‘youre not failing’ comment got to me. As women we are too hard on ourselves.