Beyond the Cosby Show: A letter to the new First Family

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

Dear First Family,

First let me say congratulations. We have followed your path to this historical moment with anxious anticipation, hope and pride. What you have accomplished will forever be known as nothing less than monumental. But you know that already. I write you today not as a voter or a constituent, but as a parent speaking for her young family. And as a parent, I look to other parents for examples of what works well and what doesn't. I write today to say "Thank you."

While the public will never be able to see the intimate details of your family life, there are some things that are evident. It is evident that you, Barack and Michelle love your children. You love them in a way that says parenting comes first above all ambition.

A desire for a higher office doesn't trump Trick or Treating. An ambition for a long fulfilling career does not trump a mother's instinct that her children need her to be there for the everyday things during a very eventful time. Schedules are kept, rules are maintained and enforced and a powerful network of loving caregivers is initiated when needed.

It is evident that as parents, you parent. And with parenting you have given your children the opportunity and confidence to be themselves. They aren't excessively groomed or coached, and it is evident that they know that their parents, above all things - the fanfare, the crowds and the glory - love them unconditionally.

It is evident as husband and wife, you love and value each other. Playfulness, unwavering support, and realistic expectations - all are important in a love relationship. Your family is an image that my family has longed to see - a reflection our reality. My husband and I have a wonderful, loving bond that keeps us together (eight years now) through all of the challenges of life and we too have two little girls who are our heart's joy. Their openness and happiness often steal the show and charm those they meet, but beyond cuteness our family has rules, goals, and schedules. We have dreams for our children that are heavy on joy, community service and education.

Our family attended rally after rally in Columbus, Ohio, we volunteered, we emailed and dare I say stalked, family and friends until they voted early and persuaded two others to do the same. We joined the ranks of small increment donors, purchased and made "Obama '08" gear and talked to anyone who would listen about the policies of an Obama administration. Our 18 month-old sees Barack and yells as only a toddler can "Bo-Bama!"

Our four year-old knows the fundamental differences between the candidates as best a four year-old can and picked out her very own Obama button - the one that featured your family portrait. Why? "Because they've got girls too, just like us," she said. I say all of this not for acknowledgment of our efforts, but to let you know, from one family to another - we are here for you.

So again I say thank you. Thank you for being a reality of what a dynamic black family looks like, because for so long the only widely recognized symbol of the black family was the Cosby Show - a group of actors with lines and guaranteed happy endings. Thank you for being a reality, dirty socks, Jonas Brothers crushes, new puppies and all. Thank you.

Sincerely, The Clarke Family