Lessons from Maggie Daley

November 27, 2011|By Ana Fernatt, For RedEye

Maggie Daley passed away on Thanksgiving Day. She had been the woman behind former Mayor Richard M. Daley during his 22 years in office. As sitting Mayor Emanuel said, "While Mayor Daley served as head of the city, Maggie was its heart." The soft, caring core to a powerful machine.

We could learn a lot from Maggie Daley.

The position of first lady is not something that we the people vote for, but she's just as important as the official second-in-command. She's the woman who's there when times are rough and stresses are high. She's the support system and sounding board. She has the most fragile task of all: protecting his heart. As they say, behind every great man is a great woman.

Although Richard Daley held the elected position, it was a dream the two of them shared and pursued together. Even Mayor Daley said in his 1989 mayoral acceptance speech that Maggie was "the best campaigner in the family." They were married while he campaigned for state Senate. His goal was her goal.

I'm not saying that one partner should take a backseat or be quiet. Instead, we should find someone who wants the same big dream. Two heads are always better than one. Sure, it was Richard Daley's name that carried the title, but it was Maggie's victory just the same.

A good first lady may not have the same public power as her husband, but she's in an equal private partnership with him. They have created the ideal example of love and teamwork. She's the top, the best. It's no surprise that Jay-Z would call Beyonce his first lady. They're in it together. Their individual dreams are magnified within the other person.

Who wouldn't want to be a first lady? The unofficial title even sounds important. You're not just a wife, you're the top woman in his life. You're different. You're special. Whether you are dating a presidential candidate or married to a plumber, we all should seek out that first lady status. Be worth that title.

When President Obama has a rough day, Michelle is there for him. She's there every single night. She was there before his term started and she'll be there long after he leaves the Oval Office. For a first lady, the commitment is much deeper than the length of a term. She would've been there for Barack whether he won the election or not. Michelle is very accomplished and highly educated in her own right. Having someone like that in your corner can only make you stronger.

Finding someone to share your life with is such an interesting pursuit. Part of it is identifying that physical attraction and emotional connection in one place. The other, less publicized, part is finding someone whom you can build your dreams with. Find the right partner and nothing will stop either of you.

Maggie Daley had it right. Be his first lady, as long as he is your first man.

ANA FERNATT IS A REDEYE SPECIAL CONTRIBUTOR.

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