“Maybe you’ve made mac ‘n’ cheese for dinner one too many times,” Biden said, addressing working mothers struggling with the stresses of pandemic life. “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.”
Biden, who has taught English composition at Northern Virginia Community College since 2009 and has a doctorate in education, is the first first lady to maintain a paying job while carrying out her White House duties. She stressed that a “sea change” was needed within the next five years to support parents similarly wearing multiple hats ― often juggling child care, a job, and college at the same time.
“Equal pay. Affordable, quality child care. Debt-free community college. Paid family leave,” Biden listed as critical priorities. “Both moms and dads are facing the chaotic reality of working from home while toddlers climb all over them. Essential workers have to go to work every day without anywhere to send their kids. We’re seeing how badly we need better balance for us all.”
Biden added that her teaching career had always been a “calling” and provided her the unique opportunity to meet people who face issues often masked by the nebulous nature of politics.
“At the White House, we’d discuss how to get people back on their feet after the recession, how we could help families struggling to pay health-care bills, or how to make college more affordable,” she said, reflecting on her time as the second lady. “Then I would go across town and sit with my students, who were dealing with those issues every day.”
The first lady, who has been married to President Joe Biden for 43 years, also brought up memories of grading papers and studying for her graduate degrees in the bleachers while her daughter Ashley and her two stepsons ― Beau and Hunter ― played sports.
“When we got married, Joe knew that I’d always wanted two things — a marriage that was strong, loving, and full of laughter, and a career,” Biden said. “He didn’t love me despite my ambitions; he loved me because of them.”
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