Make no mistake about it, what we’re doing is working

Photo by Jessica McFadden.

This past week First Lady Michelle Obama invited 150 parent bloggers to the White House to learn about the Let’s Move! programs for families and schools. The It’s Working Project’s Jessica McFadden was in attendance.

An invitation to The White House. For me and 149 fellow parent bloggers, this was not our typical morning meeting. Rather than schlepping kids to school and conquering deadlines at my desk, I was ushered into the most iconic of American settings to discuss the issues closest to my heart: the well-being of our nation’s children and families. Within that gorgeous architectural symbol of history, our relatively new media of “mommy and daddy bloggers” was recognized as a group important to communicating ideas and goals to the parents who read our posts.

But as a staff member of the It’s Working Project, I could not help but see the morning not only through my parent blogger lens, but through my It’s Working glasses, too.

We were first greeted by Deb Eschmeyer, White House Senior Policy Advisor for Nutrition and Executive Director of Let’s Move! One of the first housekeeping items she mentioned was to direct us to the designated lactation rooms, if we needed them. At this, a collective “Ahhh” arose from the parents who packed the East Room. As I realized several mothers in attendance were wearing their babies, I marveled at how incredible it was that this Administration would address the working parenting needs of those who visit the White House.

nursing mothers room

The White House East Wing lactation room offered to visitors of the Let’s Move! Media event. Photo by Jessica McFadden.

One of the next speakers was Dominique Dawes, three-time Olympic gymnast and Co-Chair of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition. She confessed to all of us that this White House morning was a much-needed break for her, as she is currently parenting her two-year-old and six-month-old baby daughters. She spoke of the “beautiful struggle” of being up all night and nursing and trying to balance her work with her duties as a mom. She’s working hard, and she’s making It Work.


Photo by Jessica McFadden.

Then Christy Goldfuss, Managing Director of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, shared a story that embodies what we at It’s Working Project not only identify with, but strive to communicate every day. She says that as a working parent and DC veteran, she has never seen an Administration or work environment that is so welcoming to expectant parents and parents of young children. She says that there are often two or three expectant parents at a time in her office, and when they come back and are bleary eyed, they have fellow staff who can relate to their completely changed lives. She also mentioned the nursing rooms established for working moms in the White House and Administrative offices.


Photo courtesy Stacey Ferguson of Justice Fergie Lifestyle Media.

And then, the woman we were all waiting for took the stage. If there is anyone who personifies the It’s Working Project philosophy of “bringing parents back to work with ease, as a matter of course and with a sense of pride,” she is First Lady Michelle Obama. She addressed her deep, dual commitments to her family as well as to her job as First Lady and leader of the Let’s Move! Initiative.

As First Lady Obama spoke of her goals for healthier families nationwide, she also related to all of us parents in attendance with stories of when her daughters were little and she was a “busy working mom with a job as an associate dean and eventually as vice president at the University of Chicago hospitals…life back then was a constant juggling act for our family. Barack was traveling all the time. He was going back and forth to Washington. And at the time, the girls were little, and they had those little-kid schedules, boy, filled with soccer practice and birthday parties, playdates and dance classes.”

And with that story, the room changed from 150 parents with hearts beating fast with First Lady hero worship to 150 parents who claimed her as one of our own: a parent striving to make It Work.

mrs o

Photo by Jessica McFadden.

We listened and learned from First Lady Obama about the more health-focused daycare centers for working parents, the healthier school meals, the increased physical activity in schools and then we had the chance to tour the White House Kitchen Garden, as well as learn how we can initiate Kitchen Gardens for our own children’s school cafeterias.

I know First Lady Obama was referring to the Let’s Move! Program when she said the following words, but I took it to heart on a much deeper level as a working mother:

“Make no mistake about it, what we’re doing is working.”
Jessica McFadden is an It’s Working Project staff member, a communications consultant, a freelance writer and a proud parenting blogger at A Parent in Silver Spring and A Parent in America. She lives in Silver Spring, Maryland with her husband and their three children.

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