Mister Mom

When young women approach Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.), chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, and ask her how she successfully juggles the demands of her career and busy home life, her answer is clear.

“The only advice I can give them is how to meet a great guy like my husband,” she told The Hill.

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Schultz affectionately refers to her husband of 22 years as “Saint Steve,” calling him her “secret weapon” in her efforts to reconcile long hours on Capitol Hill with raising the couple’s three young children.

For Wasserman Schultz, choosing a spouse who supported her goals and who believes in equal parenting has been crucial to her success.

Steve Schultz, vice president of commercial lending at the Community Bank of Broward, keeps their home in Weston, Fla., going while the congresswoman is on Capitol Hill during the week.

“He’s the on-the-ground person managing [the children’s] day to day lives when I’m in Washington,” she said, explaining that the spouses have a set division of labor.

Wasserman Schultz is responsible for everything school related — including projects, supplies and helping with homework, which she sometimes does remotely — while her husband drives the children to school in the morning before work and makes dinner for the family during the week.

Also crucial to their arrangement is the understanding and flexibility Steve’s employer offers; if his children get sick or need him during the work day, he can leave to attend to them while his wife is away in D.C.

The Schultz’s family arrangement is just one of many on Capitol Hill. For Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) and her husband, relocating to D.C. and having him stay home with the children made the most sense for their family.

Brian Rodgers was born in Spokane, Wash., and enlisted in the Navy at age 18. He rose to the rank of commander, and after 26 years, retired from duty. When he returned to Spokane soon after to visit family, his sister and nephew — volunteers on McMorris Rodgers’s first campaign — brought him to a fundraising event.

“I said, ‘Boy, this woman has just a lot to offer,’ and there was definitely a romantic interest right off the bat,” he said of their first meeting. “So I called up and pursued her, and here we are.”

Today Brian cares for the couple’s two young children full time, a surprising new role after more than two decades in the military.

“Well, this is not what I was expecting, I’ll be honest with you, but you know, it’s life,” he said. “Life has twists and turns to it, and this is just a turn that we’re both enjoying, we’re both embracing.”

Moving across the country was a difficult decision for the former commander, but one that allowed him and his children to spend the most time with McMorris Rodgers.

“Spokane’s our home, and we would prefer to live there, but duty calls and here we are,” Brian Rodgers said, noting that where his or her family lives is a tough choice every representative must make.

“If you live in the district, you’re surrounded by family and friends, and you’re in familiar places, and you’re where you want to live, but you don’t see your spouse that much,” Rodgers said. “Or you flip the coin and you’re living in D.C. without your family and friends, you’re not in the city of your choice, but … you’re able to spend time with your spouse.”

Though caring for a 6-year-old and 2-and-a-half-year-old is very much a full-time job, Rodgers hasn’t ruled out pursuing work outside the home as his children grow.

“You want to keep your adult mind engaged, [but] I certainly would look for something that would allow me to continue to spend a lot of time with the kids,” he said.

It’s also important to Rodgers to be there to support his wife as she faces all the challenges and stresses inherent with her work in Congress.

“Early on, I learned that the best thing I can do for [her] is make sure she gets a good night’s rest and make sure she has a good breakfast in the morning,” he said. “It’s fun to support Cathy. It’s fun to see her using her gifts and reaching her potential.”

Wasserman Schultz and McMorris Rodgers aren’t the only female lawmakers praising their husbands for their help and support as they work to meet demands on Capitol Hill.

Sen. Barbara Boxer’s (D-Calif.) husband has stood by her since she won her first House seat in 1982 representing California, where the couple then lived with their two children.

“My husband and I have always supported each others’ careers in every way,” she wrote in an email regarding her longtime spouse, Stewart, a founding partner at law firm Boxer & Gerson LLP.

“Without his support, and the support of my children and now my grandchildren, I could never do my job,” Boxer added.

Fellow Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) calls her own husband, Joe Daley, her “wing man.”

“He keeps the trains at home running on time, which enables me to do this job,” she wrote in an email to The Hill.

Daley was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force in 1990 and served on active duty for 10 years, according to Ayotte’s office. Subsequently, he joined the Air National Guard, flying combat missions in Bosnia and Iraq before retiring in 2012 as a Lieutenant Colonel.

He currently owns and operates a family landscaping and snow removal company and resides in Nashua, N.H., with the couple’s two young children.

“We’re both strongly committed to public service, and he helps keep me focused on the reason I ran for Senate in the first place — getting our fiscal house in order so that our children can have the same opportunities that we did,” Ayotte concluded of her husband.

Though the number of women in Congress continues to grow — a record 101 lawmakers in the 113th Congress are female — only eight currently have children under the age of 10, according to Wasserman Schultz.

She reports lunching with fellow female lawmakers and mothers like Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) to discuss the day-to-day challenges they face.

“It’s a demanding job, the schedule is intense,” she said. “It is challenging for women who have kids to make the decision to run because of the intensity of the schedule.”

Flexibility at home, and a supportive partner, can help alleviate the burden female lawmakers face when representing their districts or states.

“I hope more families raise their sons, as well as their daughters, to believe in equal parenting like my husband,” she added.

And, as so many of their male counterparts in Congress publicly thank their wives on the campaign trail for their help in keeping the home fires burning, Wasserman Schultz thinks husbands deserve the same praise.

“No one gives credit to the husbands,” she concluded. “I couldn’t do it unless my husband was as committed as he is.”

When young women approach Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.), chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, and ask her how she successfully juggles the demands of her career and busy home life, her answer is clear.

“The only advice I can give them is how to meet a great guy like my husband,” she told The Hill.

Schultz affectionately refers to her husband of 22 years as “Saint Steve,” calling him her “secret weapon” in her efforts to reconcile long hours on Capitol Hill with raising the couple’s three young children.

For Wasserman Schultz, choosing a spouse who supported her goals and who believes in equal parenting has been crucial to her success.

Steve Schultz, vice president of commercial lending at the Community Bank of Broward, keeps their home in Weston, Fla., going while the congresswoman is on Capitol Hill during the week.

“He’s the on-the-ground person managing [the children’s] day to day lives when I’m in Washington,” she said, explaining that the spouses have a set division of labor.

Wasserman Schultz is responsible for everything school related — including projects, supplies and helping with homework, which she sometimes does remotely — while her husband drives the children to school in the morning before work and makes dinner for the family during the week.

Also crucial to their arrangement is the understanding and flexibility Steve’s employer offers; if his children get sick or need him during the work day, he can leave to attend to them while his wife is away in D.C.

The Schultz’s family arrangement is just one of many on Capitol Hill. For Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) and her husband, relocating to D.C. and having him stay home with the children made the most sense for their family.

Brian Rodgers was born in Spokane, Wash., and enlisted in the Navy at age 18. He rose to the rank of commander, and after 26 years, retired from duty. When he returned to Spokane soon after to visit family, his sister and nephew — volunteers on McMorris Rodgers’s first campaign — brought him to a fundraising event.

“I said, ‘Boy, this woman has just a lot to offer,’ and there was definitely a romantic interest right off the bat,” he said of their first meeting. “So I called up and pursued her, and here we are.”

Today Brian cares for the couple’s two young children full time, a surprising new role after more than two decades in the military.

“Well, this is not what I was expecting, I’ll be honest with you, but you know, it’s life,” he said. “Life has twists and turns to it, and this is just a turn that we’re both enjoying, we’re both embracing.”

Moving across the country was a difficult decision for the former commander, but one that allowed him and his children to spend the most time with McMorris Rodgers.

“Spokane’s our home, and we would prefer to live there, but duty calls and here we are,” Brian Rodgers said, noting that where his or her family lives is a tough choice every representative must make.

“If you live in the district, you’re surrounded by family and friends, and you’re in familiar places, and you’re where you want to live, but you don’t see your spouse that much,” Rodgers said. “Or you flip the coin and you’re living in D.C. without your family and friends, you’re not in the city of your choice, but … you’re able to spend time with your spouse.”

Though caring for a 6-year-old and 2-and-a-half-year-old is very much a full-time job, Rodgers hasn’t ruled out pursuing work outside the home as his children grow.

“You want to keep your adult mind engaged, [but] I certainly would look for something that would allow me to continue to spend a lot of time with the kids,” he said.

It’s also important to Rodgers to be there to support his wife as she faces all the challenges and stresses inherent with her work in Congress.

“Early on, I learned that the best thing I can do for [her] is make sure she gets a good night’s rest and make sure she has a good breakfast in the morning,” he said. “It’s fun to support Cathy. It’s fun to see her using her gifts and reaching her potential.”

Wasserman Schultz and McMorris Rodgers aren’t the only female lawmakers praising their husbands for their help and support as they work to meet demands on Capitol Hill.

Sen. Barbara Boxer’s (D-Calif.) husband has stood by her since she won her first House seat in 1982 representing California, where the couple then lived with their two children.

“My husband and I have always supported each others’ careers in every way,” she wrote in an email regarding her longtime spouse, Stewart, a founding partner at law firm Boxer & Gerson LLP.

“Without his support, and the support of my children and now my grandchildren, I could never do my job,” Boxer added.

Fellow Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) calls her own husband, Joe Daley, her “wing man.”

“He keeps the trains at home running on time, which enables me to do this job,” she wrote in an email to The Hill.

Daley was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force in 1990 and served on active duty for 10 years, according to Ayotte’s office. Subsequently, he joined the Air National Guard, flying combat missions in Bosnia and Iraq before retiring in 2012 as a Lieutenant Colonel.

He currently owns and operates a family landscaping and snow removal company and resides in Nashua, N.H., with the couple’s two young children.

“We’re both strongly committed to public service, and he helps keep me focused on the reason I ran for Senate in the first place — getting our fiscal house in order so that our children can have the same opportunities that we did,” Ayotte concluded of her husband.

Though the number of women in Congress continues to grow — a record 101 lawmakers in the 113th Congress are female — only eight currently have children under the age of 10, according to Wasserman Schultz.

She reports lunching with fellow female lawmakers and mothers like Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) to discuss the day-to-day challenges they face.

“It’s a demanding job, the schedule is intense,” she said. “It is challenging for women who have kids to make the decision to run because of the intensity of the schedule.”

Flexibility at home, and a supportive partner, can help alleviate the burden female lawmakers face when representing their districts or states.

“I hope more families raise their sons, as well as their daughters, to believe in equal parenting like my husband,” she added.

And, as so many of their male counterparts in Congress publicly thank their wives on the campaign trail for their help in keeping the home fires burning, Wasserman Schultz thinks husbands deserve the same praise.

“No one gives credit to the husbands,” she concluded. “I couldn’t do it unless my husband was as committed as he is.”