Parenting

Chelsea Clinton, Your Elderly Mother Needs Help

On September 11, a truly disturbing video went viral of Hillary Clinton stumbling, being propped up, and losing her shoe as she was dragged into a waiting van—and my heart broke for her. Not for her ambitions to be the first female president, because I will not be voting for her and I believe that just really wanting to be the first female president is not a good enough reason for everyone to let you be the first female president.

But my heart broke for her as a mom and as a daughter. Since at 40, I am now at that point in life where my own parents are getting on in years and have medical problems. I felt bad for Hillary Clinton. I pitied her. And then I got angry.

What the heck is wrong with her daughter, Chelsea, that she is not stepping in and telling her mom, the campaign, and the entire political world that her mother is sick and that she should not be put through all of this? Chelsea’s just a few years younger than me, with children of her own. While our financial and social positions are light years apart, Chelsea and I are in the same boat when it comes to having older parents with clear health problems and finding ourselves in that transition period where we start becoming caregivers to the people in our lives who once gave such good care to us.

My parents are in town visiting for a few months and I’ve begun to notice significant changes in their stamina and overall health. My mother gets out of breath easily and is slowing down. She’s about Hillary Clinton’s age, give or take a few years. My father is similarly struggling, just having celebrated his 75th birthday. It’s rough to see them showing their age and frailty. We had a scare the other night when my father fainted and fell down in my bathroom and the paramedics were called and had to haul him off to the hospital for many tests and rest. We were frantic, and rightly so. When your elderly parent faints and falls, it’s cause for alarm. 

So why on earth did Hillary Clinton’s security detail take her to Chelsea’s house instead of the hospital? Why did Chelsea allow this? Isn’t there some point when a daughter says to her ailing mother, “That’s it, Mom, you’re going to the hospital.” My father actually laid on the floor arguing with me (after hitting his head on a cast iron tub) that he was fine and didn’t need to see a doctor. Over my dead body, Pops. These are the moments when children become caregivers and have to make a hard call once in a while. (In case you’re wondering, my dad is okay. He’s bruised and sore, but he’s doing well now.)

I get why all the political operatives aren’t saying anything and are blindly ignoring the ugly truth about Hillary’s collapsing health: it was her turn to be the nominee and the nominee she now is and their finances and futures depend on her staying in this race. I get why the media is working overtime to cover up events like this bizarre collapse of hers in New York: ideologically and emotionally most reporters are committed to dragging Hillary across the finish line however they can. I get why all the people who donated to her campaign need her to keep going: they expect a return on their investment, like the nights in the Lincoln Bedroom they had the first time the Clintons lived on Pennsylvania Avenue.

 But I don’t get why Chelsea says nothing, watching her mom’s body give out on her in such a spectacularly degrading and demeaning way while cell phone cameras capture it all. That woman in the blue pantsuit losing her shoe in public is not just a presidential candidate or a gravy train for Chelsea: that is HER MOM.
Where is Chelsea’s compassion and love for her mom? Not her mother’s ambitions. Not her family’s quest to retake the White House they seem to feel belongs to them. Not her political party’s hunger for power. Where is Chelsea Clinton’s basic, primal, human need for her mom to be healthy, safe, and okay? Why isn’t she demanding her mom get the care she so obviously needs?