Irin Carmon writes at Salon that Michelle is "not just mom-in-chief," and that's true. Never mind that what "mom-in-chief" is, exactly, remains vague. What if it meant, for instance, president, and not simply First Lady? The point is, in an election season that's threaded through with an oft rancid undercurrent of how capital-W Women must be won—that there's a war on, a battle not just for women but also against them—it's not surprising that Mom has been the focus of so many political speeches so far, nor that Michelle Obama would announce that the most important role in her life was being a mom. Is there anything more powerful than a mom? There's bipartisan appeal here, even as the Democrats and Republicans promote Mom a little differently.
Chris Christie and Paul Ryan both talked glowingly about their own moms and the impact those women had on their lives. Ann Romney's momhood, and reaching out to women (I looooovvee women!"), was central to her own speech, and part of her effort to "humanize" her husband. Mom is the touchstone, mom conveys meaning. The dark side of that is that women who aren't moms are still, frequently, looked on with suspicion, or with sadness—clearly they haven't achieved what they should want, is the message; perhaps they are broken. Mom is the ultimate humanity, the example of that unconditional love that Michelle explains her parents gave to her. More than Dad (dads are important, too!), moms are engrained in our culture as that nurturing, supportive, incredibly human entity that we can all depend on. This is also why society really, really hates the woman we deem a bad mom.
On from Good Mom, though, there is the future, both biologically and metaphorically. As Michelle said, "We get there because of folks like my dad, folks like Barack's grandmother, men and women who said to themselves, I may not have a chance to fulfill my dreams, but maybe my children will, maybe my grandchildren will." With parenting, but especially with Mom, there is sacrifice. Michelle paints a picture of this sacrifice, for her, though, as empowering, as a choice, as, even, a form of having it all. "Helping others means more than just getting ahead yourself," she says. She appears to really mean this.
For all this talk of moms, though, there's something a little bit odd. In the New York Times' breakdown of most frequently used words at the DNC, it's not mom (with 18 mentions) but women that appears more often, 111 times, per the graphic, followed by families at 77. Michelle talks frequently of women, for instance, of Barack's grandmother, who worked as a secretary at a bank, climbing the ranks until she hit that inevitable glass ceiling. She's a woman and a mom, and through her we get to why "he signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, to help women get equal pay for equal work," as well as how "he believes that women are more than capable of making our own choices about our bodies and our health care." Women are women, but moms are stories, even when we're not using the word "mom."