We Are Our Mother’s Daughters
By Cokie Roberts
Read Sept 2020
This reader found a copy of the 1998 edition of this small book in a Little Library—a great place to find reading treasures. Apparently there is a second edition published in 2009 that my comments can’t cover.
This reader has listened to NPR for about 30 years so Cokie’s contributions to radio news and those of the other “Founding Mothers” of NPR are well known to this reader. This reader is also familiar with Cokie’s participation on This Week with David Brinkley and her turn at the helm of that vehicle with Sam Donaldson. It is somewhat sobering to this reader that this generation of news reporters in these vehicles, whom this reader has followed for 30+ years, is leaving us to retirement or beyond. We lost Cokie to complications of cancer in 2019.
Cokie’s book is a highly personal one—chapters on her personal experiences as Sister, Aunt, Friend, Reporter, Wife, and Mother/Daughter give us an insight on her personal life. She was a daughter of politician parents—Congressman Hale Boggs and Congresswoman Lindy Boggs; a sister of a Princeton, NJ mayor (Barbara) and of a successful lawyer/lobbyist (Tommy). She was wife and eventual column co-author of journalist Steve Roberts and mother of two children. She describes her pursuit of Steve Roberts during and following graduation from Wellesley College in 1964 when she had a goal of marriage and motherhood before she was too old (they married when she was 22 and he 23). She describes her decisions over the years to follow Steve to New York, Greece, LA, and then Washington, D.C. Through it all she realized she too must work to be complete and did so with gusto so that she become a the well-known and well-respected journalist.
Cokie also chose to include chapters or chapter portions about famous and not-so-famous women and how they made inroads into “men’s world jobs” of mechanic, activist, journalist, enterpriser, and politician. She indicates she does not provide any original research about women in history.
This book is Cokie’s take on that age-old question “What is woman’s place” and how she sees it. She offers no answers to how can women have ‘balance” (she in fact suggests that’s really never going to happen). She offers observations on how she has experienced life during the “great social movement” that propelled women more completely into life outside the home. She chastens women with choices in their life-role for judging other women’s choices — especially when those judged really have very limited choices.
The best paragraph in the book quotes Margaret Chase Smith as she wrote in the introduction to the book “Outstanding Women Members of Congress” in answer to “Where is the proper place of women?”: “My answer is short and simple—woman’s proper place is everywhere. Individually it is where the particular woman is happiest and best fitted—in the home as wives and mothers; in organized civic, business, and professional groups; in industry and business, both management and labor; and in government and politics. Generally, if there is any proper place for women today it is that of alert and responsible citizens in the fullest sense of the word.”
If you were a fan of Cokie Roberts, you will enjoy this small volume, hearing Cokie’s voice again as she covers topics important to the hearts of women of all ages. If Cokie Roberts is less known to you, read this book to get a sense of a memorable woman who brought much to the world of political journalism and to all those who knew her.