Moms Can't Judge Hillary Clinton for Not Taking a Sick Day ('Cause You Don't Either)

Hillary Clinton leaving apartment

Last week Hillary Clinton was diagnosed with pneumonia. But she didn't go to bed and watch Netflix for a few days while other people filled in for her. Nope. She's got an election to win. So Clinton put on her pantsuit and headed to the 9/11 memorial ceremony on Sunday. What happened next is something every mom, regardless of party, should be able to relate to -- even if she isn't running for the highest office in the country.

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Clinton was trying to soldier on; trying to prove Trump wrong. He has accused her of being feeble and says she lacks the stamina necessary to be the president, despite her decades of work that tell a very different story. It's an attack many women face when they're trying to break into the boys' club: You're just too weak to compete with the men.

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So instead women try to do it all, despite the fact that it's impossible. We want to be sexy and soft, good mothers, good partners at home, and attentive to the people we love. At work we have to control our emotions, something that often gets us labeled as difficult or unfriendly. But when you've just left your babies at daycare and are feeling like a guilty failure, maybe you just have to go on autopilot at work to get the job done.

Not coincidentally, these are all things Hillary Clinton has been relentlessly attacked over during her time in public life. Now she is being belittled by the public and the press for a common case of pneumonia that you or I or any other woman or -- yes -- man could have contracted.

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And it's not like anyone is trying to make it any easier on mothers, who could related to Hillary's sleep-deprived schedule. For us, daycare is expensive, paid maternity leave is a luxury, and equal pay still seems like a fantasy.

But still we show up to meetings with milk stains under our blazers and Shopkins in our brief cases. We hold conference calls and sit at happy hours, all the while knowing there's a whole other world happening without us that we desperately want to get home to. We get colds and stomach bugs and still never miss a day of work, because we have kids to take care of and they need us to keep our jobs.

And besides, sick days at home with kids aren't really sick days at all anyway.

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So we work. Just like Hillary, who, according to a report in People, has been surrounded by staffers and advisers falling ill with the same pneumonia over the past weeks. One even had to be rushed to the ER for severe dehydration related to the illness. Sound familiar? The difference is that the staffer isn't the first woman running for president.

Hillary may not have babies at home to take care of anymore, but she has the mentality of a working mom ... and of a working woman who doesn't have the luxury of male privilege, lest she be considered too weak for that big bad boys' club (that obviously needs to change). So when she's sick, she sucks it up and appears on TV, in front of crowds, and shakes countless hands. She schleps on planes filled with reporters hoping to catch her in a mistake, and is constantly circled by armed guards on edge at every moment. Clinton gives interviews and debates and speeches. And on Sunday, despite obviously feeling crummy, she stood in the New York City heat for more than 90 minutes at the 9/11 memorial until her body just couldn't take it anymore.

She almost made it to the car without letting on how sick she was. But a camera caught her appearing to wobble. And almost as if on cue, her critics pounced on the opportunity to paint her as not tough enough for the top job.

She took a quick ride to her daughter's New York apartment to rest and cool down for a couple of hours and then strutted out onto the sidewalk looking totally together and happy. Then she went home to get some much-needed rest and a visit from her doctor.

Now Clinton is getting criticism that she didn't disclose her pneumonia earlier. People reported that campaign veteran Nicole Wallace said it makes her look untrustworthy, with Wallace saying on Today that "the Clintons can't come clean about anything, including cold and flu season."

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That's pretty easy for Wallace to say. Her every cough and throat-clear isn't being spun into conspiracy theories like Clinton's. Hillary has been accused of having everything from Parkinson's to brain damage without a shed of evidence to back it up. It makes sense she might not want to advertise she's got a bad lung infection.

For a woman who already has all the power, prestige, and influence a person could ever hope for, you have to wonder why Clinton is willing to put herself through all of this mess to become president anyway. Is the job really worth all this shade?

Her critics would probably say she's power hungry. I think she's doing it precisely because she knows how utterly crappy the double standards are for men and women in our country and she's determined to do everything she can to set things right.

Clinton has spent her entire life advocating for women and children. Everyone's probably already got her résumé memorized: Yale Law, child and education advocate, First Lady, senator, secretary of state, feminist icon. Just go to her Twitter profile -- the first words she uses to describe herself tell you everything you need to know: "Wife, mom, grandma, women+kids advocate...."

When I look at Hillary I can't help but see her as a fellow working mom trying to do it all. The only difference is that Hillary hasn't just worked her own way to the very tippy top of the world's org chart -- she's taken the rest of us with her.

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You don't have to be a woman who agrees with her policy or her politics for her to have made a positive impact on your life. Because of Hillary Clinton we now know what a woman in the Oval Office would look like. Our daughters are seeing women with seats at the most important tables in the world, and that matters.

Because of Clinton, the next woman to run for president might get treated just a little better, with a little bit more respect. Maybe not, but from one working mom to another, I want her to know I think she's just about the baddest chick I've ever seen and I admire that she's willing to work like hell no matter how crappy she's feeling. I see you, Hillary, and I know how hard that is. And I imagine most other moms do, too.

Get some rest, Hillary, and then get that pantsuit back on and hit the trail. There's still a lot of work left to do before November.

 

Image via BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

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