HARRISBURG (CBS) — Just 40 years ago, the idea of even a woman – any woman – in Pennsylvania’s Senate was a novelty. Out of 50 senators, there was exactly one, and she was a grandmother.
Later came more women, including some mothers of younger children. But no woman has ever given birth while a member of the state Senate.
If that fact surprises you, consider this: It also surprised the woman who is about to make history by becoming the first.
“That had not crossed my mind,” said Sen. Amanda Cappelletti (D-Delaware and Montgomery), until a colleague pointed it out to her.
Cappelletti is eight months pregnant. She and her husband are expecting a baby girl, who will be their first child.
Previously, Cappelletti had spoken publicly about far darker chapters in her childbearing journey: two miscarriages she suffered.
“It’s an honor to represent that whole spectrum of experience,” Cappelletti said.
With the Senate in session, she knows she won’t exactly have a typical maternity leave – which is OK, she said, because she’s a “type-A personality” who would have a hard time fully disconnecting anyway.
But nor will it exactly be business as usual either.
“I know my colleagues are willing to work with me, if I can’t physically be in Harrisburg, to make sure I’m still able to participate” remotely, she said.
That includes colleagues from the other side of the aisle – especially Republican women who chipped in to buy her a gift for a baby shower senators held for her this past week, a gesture Cappelletti described as “so sweet and so kind.”
One of those women, Sen. Lisa Baker (R), whose northeastern Pennsylvania includes the Poconos and Endless Mountains, recalled when she was a mother of a then-young boy – her son Carson, who is now 31 – while she was serving in the administration of Gov. Tom Ridge.
“I venture none of my male colleagues were asked a question I received,” Baker said.
“Who’s home watching your son?” she recalled a man asking her.
“And I said, ‘Well, tell me, who’s home watching your son?'” Baker continued. “And the gentleman took a step back and said, ‘I am so embarrassed that I asked you that.'”
Her advice to Cappelletti about trying to do it all – be a great mom, wife and senator? Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to do it all.
“Some days it works great,” Baker said. “And other days you’re going to find maybe the house wasn’t perfectly clean or the memo wasn’t as perfect as you would have liked it.”
And even if some things might slip through the cracks, could something more important take their place?
Cappelletti reflected on the common cause she has found with women who are often on the other side of policy debates.
“When you start to make human connections, then you can have more dialog and maybe find other ways to get different things done in Harrisburg,” she said.
Credit: Source link