When I ran across an article headlined, “Internet Erupts Over the Name Mike Pence Reportedly Calls His Wife,” my heart sunk a little. That’s because I knew it was a spinoff of this salacious Rolling Stone article about the vice president and I knew that the object of the post was yet another attempt to cast aspersions upon a good man and his family for nothing so much as being completely normal.
What is the horrible name Mike Pence is discovered to have used when speaking to his wife? Does he, in the parlance of some of the “artists” asked to perform at Hillary’s campaign rallies, refer to her as a “*itch” or a word that rhymes with “sore”?
No. It’s much worse than that, apparently. The name Mike Pence uses to refer to his wife of nearly 32 years and the mother of his three children is—brace yourself—“mother.”
Once again, the media is looking for scandal where none exists.
As a fellow Hoosier who has lived most of her adult life in and around the Midwest, I find the assertion that Mike Pence was seeking to demean or belittle his wife, Karen, by calling her “mother” to be utterly lacking in a core understanding of that part of America. It is laughable these journalists consider themselves to be tolerant and cosmopolitan. Is anything more provincial than their elitist disdain for the rest of the country?
This essential lack of understanding and, even, curiosity on the part of these reporters is one of the the key reasons why the Democratic Party lost the 2016 election.
That calling your wife “mother” is, somehow and in its essence “demeaning” is news that would have come as a shock to my own father—a man who always called my late mother “Mom.” She, in turn, called him “Dad.” In our family’s case this was done, partially, to avoid the confusion that would have resulted from calling her by the first name she shared with me. You see, my father loved and respected my mother so much that he insisted on naming his first and only daughter after her. How demeaning! She got him back, though. My brother is named after him.
Though unusual, this always struck my brother and me as an enormous display of respect and mutual love in our parents—both for us and for each other. They literally gave us their names and adopted the titles “Mom” and “Dad” for themselves. This taught us the value they saw in their important roles as our parents. They did not want us growing up to call them by their first names. It also gave us the clarity we needed to know our parents were in charge and that we, as children, were not to be considered their equals until we reached adulthood. If we wanted titles, and not just names, we’d have to earn them.
My mom and dad became accustomed to calling each other by these titles which, of course, became terms of endearment between two loving and committed people. These were affectionate names used both out of habit and because of respect.
Pence, like my father, is a man of deep religious conviction. He has worshipped in Catholic and Protestant churches. The Bible commands “husbands love your wives as Christ loves the Church.” This is how Pence chooses to cherish and adore her and, quite apart from being completely reasonable and beautiful in this context, there is also this to say about it: It’s nobody else’s business.
Shakespeare’s Juliet asked, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would still smell as sweet.” And I have no doubt that my own mother would have been every bit the wonderful wife and mother she was had my father chosen to call her something else. But in choosing to call her “Mom,” my father not only honored my mother, he gave my brother and me a gift.
Mike Pence seems likely to be doing the same. In calling his wife “Mother” he is saying to the world that this is the woman I have chosen to be the mother of my children and with whom I intend to spend the rest of my life. “Mother” is her title and her crown.
This kind of fidelity and love must be a hard concept for many liberals to grasp. I am lucky to have witnessed it firsthand with my parents. I am lucky to have a loving husband that calls me his Wife, his Bride and even, sometimes, Mom. And I have been too busy feeling loved to have ever considered that I should be offended.
In this insipid reporting, we find the media once again hoping and grasping at the chance to catch another political figure, in this case the vice president, in a “gotcha” moment and once again demonstrating nothing so much as the great personal virtue and character of their subject as well as their own provincialism and ignorance. Pence reveals his character even in private situations when he thinks no one is watching, he reveres his wife in a way that tells her every day is Mother’s Day! I am sure that if the out of touch media would ever deign to venture out and talk with the regular people in middle America, they would find that Mike Pence is not alone in how he honors his wife, the mother of his children.