Nancy Pelosi on Why She Went From ‘Housewife to House Speaker’

Pelosi's daughter interviews the Congresswoman for HuffPost's latest Talk to Me video.

It only makes sense that HuffPost’s Talk to Me series was started by Arianna Huffington‘s daughter Christina Huffington. The interview series, which debuted its inaugural episodes at the beginning of April, features videos of parents being interviewed by their children, who get the chance to, as Christina Huffington puts it, “ask the questions there never seems to be the time to ask.”

There are both Huffington Post-produced videos, featuring well-known names like Michael Bloomberg, Oprah Winfrey and Barbara Bush, as well as reader-submitted videos.

Today’s video features Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the former and first and to-date only female Speaker of the House. But before Pelosi became speaker, before Congress was even a thought, she spent the first two plus decades of adulthood in another career entirely–that of stay-at-home mom to five children born within six years.

It’s something that Pelosi’s daughter, Alexandra Pelosi, a documentary filmmaker, asks her about early on in the interview, framing it within the “mommy wars” conflict, as Alexandra describes it, between “the stay-at-home moms and the working moms.”

“I think everybody has to do what they feel comfortable with,” Pelosi says.

I always say to people, “Do the best you can.” It won’t really be the best you know how, because there are too many obstacles to that. … We shouldn’t be making judgements about how other people choose to balance career and home. I’m speaking of myself because I went from being a housewife to the House Speaker, a homemaker to a member of Congress. I personally, myself, would not have been able to do both things at once. It was sequential for me, but other people might be able to. Of course, most people don’t have five children in six years. I hope that young women who can handle it would have that balance, because for example, I went to Congress in my forties. Most men go to Congress maybe in their thirties, so they already have a ten year jump on you in terms of seniority and experience and the rest. I want to see women sharing their experience, in Congress, raising a family, as well as impacting public policy from that perspective.

Pelosi also talks about how the ambition to run for Congress wasn’t baked in, and was a take or leave situation that Pelosi took because Alexandra, then a senior in high school, gave Pelosi her blessing.

I never had any ambition to run for public office. It wasn’t my interest. In fact, I’m a rather shy person. I didn’t envision myself in a public role. Then, when the opportunity came, remember I came to you and said, “Alexandra, I’ve been offered this opportunity. It doesn’t mean I’ll win. It’s just an opportunity to run for Congress. You have one more year in high school, and it would be better if this were a year later?” The other four were already in college, and, “My life is perfectly happy, any answer is okay, to stay here with you or to go to Congress?” Your response, “Mother, get a life.” And you said, “What teenage girl wouldn’t want her mom out of the house three nights a week?”

Watch the full interview here.