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In 2008, Hillary Clinton said mother would have been in foster care today

She was Senator Hillary Clinton in 2008, when she ran against Senator Barack Obama and John Edwards in South Carolina, the last state before Edwards dropped out of the race.

I spoke to her for NPR’s News and Notes, and she mentioned her mother, saying, “If she had been born at a later time, I believe she probably would have been put into the foster care system because her parents essentially abandoned her.”  Today, former Secretary of State Clinton is expected to formally announce for President, foregrounding themes of her mother.

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The New York Times says:

Sharing that story is a shift for Mrs. Clinton, who in her 2008 campaign was fiercely protective of her mother’s privacy and eager to project an image of strength as she sought to become the first female commander in chief. And in this campaign, her mother’s story may help address one of Mrs. Clinton’s central challenges: convincing voters who feel they already know everything about her that there is, indeed, more to know, and that she is motivated by more than ambition.

But she did, in fact talk about it… perhaps not extensively, but you can still listen here (sometimes with a long page load time). It begins at 5:17.

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, 2008, for NPR’s News and Notes, 1/25/2008, responding to why she has done children’s-rights work in her legal and political career.

I think it was initially important because my mother had such a very difficult life.

If she had been born at a later time, I believe she probably would have been put into the foster care system because her parents essentially abandoned her and her grandparents were very unwelcoming, and basically she had to leave their home when she was 13 just to go work in someone else’s home, just to have a safe place to live and to try to be able to make some way in her life.
They let her take care of her children but she had to but she had to get up and get the other children off to school, and they let her go to high school. I really saw at a very early age, that despite my comfortable, secure upbringing in my family that wasn’t the case for so many children.
It just became the cause of my passionate commitments here in public service to do what I can to give every child a chance to live up to his or her God-given potential.

 

“Mothers and Others”

via www.livemint.com

As publisher Urvashi Butalia writes in the anthology Of Mothers And Others: Stories, Essays, Poems society has its prism on motherhood and childlessness… one that may not square the many patterns of human lives and families. In her words:

For years I have identified myself as a single woman. It’s important to me this definition: singleness is, for me, a positive state, one that is not defined by a lack, by something missing, by a negative—as for example the word ‘unmarried’ is. But with this children business, we don’t even have the language to define a positive state. I mean, there is childlessness and there is childlessness. How often have we heard that a couple is childless, that a woman who cannot bear a child is defined as barren. Why should this be? I did not make a choice not to have children, but that’s how my life panned out. I don’t feel a sense of loss at this, my life has been fulfilling in so many other ways. Why should I have to define it in terms of a lack? Am I a barren woman? I can’t square this with what I know of myself.

Namaste, Mama

“A mother never dies,” the man said to me. “A mother never dies.”
His name is John. We met today on the subway, five days before mother’s day. I was taking the C train uptown, and luckily the stifling hot, crowded train partially emptied out at 42nd Street. The seats were still packed, but you didn’t have to hug yourself tight while you clutched the rail.
Before I knew his name, John offered me his seat. I used to be the kind of fearful feminist who thought turning down any help was a good thing. Now I remain a proud feminist, but I’ve learned enough about men to accept true chivalry for what it is: a meaningful ritual that can be examined, and refused, but gently. So I told him that I preferred to stand, not because I didn’t want to be beholden to him, but because I actually like to stand. I even have a standing desk.
John was a little worn around the edges… fifty-something, wearing the uniform of a working man’s government agency. He was a thin man with large liquid eyes that were exaggerated by the thickness of his glasses.

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