A Real Housewife of Wisconsin
Rachel Campos-Duffy talks about motherhood at home and on the campaign trail.


Kathryn Jean Lopez

LOPEZ: You spend a good amount of time talking about the dad’s role in the life of the at-home mom. Has the feminist movement been damaging to the life of the husband and wife at home? Beyond academic arguments, is it impossible not to see damage that has been done even in fairly conservative family life?

CAMPOS-DUFFY: In some ways, feminism has helped. 1950s dads rarely “partnered” with their wives in matters of home and kids. Boomer dads talked the talk, but ultimately, their wives were “super moms” who ended up burnt out from the double shift. Gen X husbands like Sean walk the walk. Sean’s as comfortable in the courtroom or wielding an ax as he is changing a diaper. He may not always know what I want or need, but he’s genuinely open to being a partner in the relationship and in the division of labor in our home. Clearly, there are some gender differences. For example, Sean splits the wood to heat our home, and in the winter, he also brings it in from the porch every morning and evening. He’s better suited to doing that, and frankly, I don’t want to do it. I’d rather stay in and cook. And that’s okay too. I think today’s men are a big reason why being a wife and mom is getting better. In many ways, men are better. I guess we have their moms to thank for that.

LOPEZ: What’s been the importance of prayer in your life? How do you even do it with kids running around, a busy husband, and your various projects? Isn’t it one of those things that could easily find itself getting dropped?

CAMPOS-DUFFY: I need prayer for sustenance. As a busy mom, I can’t get picky about when or where it happens. I take the moments when and as they come. My prayers include short appeals to God to get me through a difficult “toddler moment,” or our chihuahua peeing on the carpet . . . again! I also learned to count the time I spend with my kids or in service of my family as prayers. We’re driving a lot these days for Sean’s campaign events, and those are perfect times to pop in a CD of the rosary and pray together as a family. It’s easy to let your prayer life fall by the wayside, and sometimes it does. But again, the secret is to remind yourself of the benefits. When I take excellent care of myself from the inside out, I have more to give to my family.

LOPEZ: You write about embracing technology. We’re all supposed to be freaked out about “sexting.” Your children, mercifully, aren’t in that age range quite yet, but I suspect that doesn’t keep you from worrying. What’s your attitude about these things? Whatever the next dark story from inside some suburban school might be?

CAMPOS-DUFFY: I do worry about those things, but I realize I can’t control pop culture or what other parents allow their kids to do or be involved in. Ultimately, my kids will have to navigate this culture on their own. All I can do is build a good foundation and instill in them the values I think will help them make good choices: character, honesty, manners, love of family, and intellectual curiosity. These are the best defenses against our culture’s worst offenses.

LOPEZ: Are there TVs and computers in your house? Do you worry they’ll infect the children?