By Annie Groer
It’s unclear whether Secretary of State Hillary Clinton caught the “Today” show as NBC contributor Jenna Bush Hager announced she was pregnant. That would make Laura Bush, Clinton’s White House successor, a first-time grandmother come spring.
Hager, 31, broke the news with husband Henry by her side during a “holiday traditions” segment that co-anchor Savannah Guthrie joked was of the “bun in the oven” variety. Former president George “Popsicle” Bush (a Jenna nickname he would not discuss on the air) and his wife obligingly called in from Texas to discuss the happy news. “Definitely” they will spoil this first grandchild, she said. Definitely not will Bush 43 change diapers.
Now that Hager’s baby bump is grabbing headlines–the Mail online broke the news without confirmation on Tuesday– one wonders how Clinton reacted to this latest celeb pregnancy. She has made no secret of her desire to add “grandmother” to a sterling resume that includes stints as a cabinet secretary, presidential candidate, U.S. senator and first lady, even as she is rumored to be mulling another White House run in 2016.
Meanwhile, Bill and Hillary Clintons’ only child, Chelsea, 32, and husband Marc Mezvinsky, have shown no signs of going forth and procreating since their July 2010 wedding, despite fervent parental hopes—and tabloid headlines–to the contrary. If the Globe newspaper weren’t so hopelessly wrong in April, a ClintVinsky baby would already be here.
“Well, no pressure, because I don’t want to be one of those kinds of mothers, But obviously, someday, I’d love it,” Hillary confessed to Harper’s Bazaar last year. And what sort of granny might she be? “Probably an unbearable one, the kind who is saying, ‘Oh, my gosh, I’ll take the child, I’ll do whatever you need to get done.’’
Bill Clinton has made clear he is also jazzed by the prospect of a new generation, but said it is something his wife “wants more than she wanted to be president.”
The longing for descendants is a completely natural one, rooted in the human survival instinct, said social psychologist Susan Newman, author of “Little Things Mean a Lot: Creating Happy Memories With Your Grandchildren.”
“It’s such a paradox. We want what we don’t have and when we see somebody who looks better, has a bigger house, a fancier car, I guess jealousy is the word for it. But with the grandparent issue there is so much else going on. It’s not materialistic. There is a strong desire to have your family continue, to keep the line going, and as a grandparent, to pass on your knowledge and family traditions.”
But in this, as in other family milestones, wishing does not necessarily make it so. “When you are a parent, you are the commander-in-chief of your house and your family. As a would-be grandparent, you can’t force this issue and you can’t control this issue,” said Newman.
No one is more aware of this than Chelsea Clinton herself, who jokes about her mother’s public yearnings for a grandchild who would bring the same joy as her own arrival brought her parents.
“She always tells me it was the greatest thing that ever happened to her. And as the subject of such an amazing compliment, I can’t do anything but be grateful and smile and say that I’m confident that I will feel the same way when I am so blessed,” Chelsea told Vogue in August. “It’s certainly something that Marc and I talk a lot about. I always knew I was the center of my parents’ lives when I was growing up. And I am determined that our children feel the same way. Marc and I are both working really hard right now, but I think in a couple of years, hopefully . . . literally, God willing. And I hope my mom can wait that long.”
In truth, Secretary Clinton, the once and maybe future presidential contender, has no choice. But that will not stop her from hoping for a bun in the oven.
Annie Groer is a former Washington Post and PoliticsDaily.com reporter and columnist who writes widely about politics, culture and design. Her work has also appeared in The New York Times, Town & Country and More; she is at work on a memoir.