Forget about Madam Speaker: Rep. Nancy Pelosi much prefers the title Grandma Mimi. Pelosi is not only the first woman to serve as Speaker of the House of Representatives –– making her the third most powerful politician in Washington –– she’s also a Power Nana. When she’s not running Congress, Pelosi loves nothing more than spending time with her six grandchildren. Grandparents.com recently caught up with Pelosi to talk with her about family, life as a Congressional Grandma, and why grandparents matter in politics.
Grandparents.com: How would you describe your relationship with your grandchildren?
Grandma Mimi: I’m a spoiler. I don’t get to see my grandchildren nearly as often as I’d like, so when I do, I can’t help but spoil them.
GP: What kinds of questions do your grandchildren ask about your job?
GM: My grandchildren, and lots of children, are curious about what I do. They ask me what I do each day as Speaker and what my favorite part of the job is. And, they’re interested in the famous people I meet. Several of my grandchildren are big U2 fans, and since I’ve met with Bono, they want to know what he’s like. He’s fabulous, by the way!
GP: Do your grandchildren live nearby or far –– and if far, how do you keep the ties strong?
GM: My grandchildren live in Texas, Arizona, and New York, which is wonderful for them, but a little far for us. My husband and I prayed for grandchildren. We not only prayed, we begged. But, we forgot to pray that they live in California… near their Mimi and Pop. One of the hardest parts about being Speaker is not having as much time as I would like to spend with my grandchildren.
GP: How does being a grandparent influence your politics?
GM: Building a better future for our children and grandchildren is what drives me to do the work I do each day. I believe that my work in Congress is a continuation of my work as a mother and grandmother. As a Member of Congress and especially as Speaker, I have an opportunity to work for our children.
GP: What are the biggest political issues facing the new crop of boomer grandparents?
GM: Our country is facing a crisis when it comes to ensuring access to quality, affordable health care. And that hits grandparents especially hard. In Congress, we are addressing the needs of the 47 million uninsured Americans, as well as strengthening the Medicare system.
GP: What’s your advice to grandparents who want to instill socially-conscious values in their grandchildren?
GM: I encourage grandparents and parents to instill the value and importance of education in their grandchildren. The advice I always give to young people who are interested in politics is this: just run. Run for student government, run for local office, run for higher office. With a commitment to education and participation, the opportunities are endless.
GP: What indulgence do you allow the grandchildren when they stay over at your house?
GM: I always let them indulge on sweets. I love chocolate, especially chocolate ice cream. That’s the tradition I’ve passed down!