>> Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Interview with Rebecca Hargreaves, wife of Senator Patrick Hargreaves.
You speak of yourself as a mother first, wife second, and then public servant. What do you mean by that?
I know it’s popular now to say that the marriage must come first, but that is not our relationship. Patrick has always been very independent. Our relationship is based on love and our enjoyment of each other’s company whereas my children need me. Even now that they are adults, they still need my love and support in a way that Patrick wouldn’t appreciate nor need.
How many children do you have?
We have 5 children, 2 boys and 3 girls.
Do you have a favorite child?
My children tell me that I do. They are such different people that they need different things from me. My oldest daughter, Samantha, is very assertive and driven. She needs me to help her soften to the people she loves and to remind her the importance of family.
My twins… Alex and Max? They have always had each other. We did a sonogram of them when I was about 6 months pregnant and they were holding each other. They’re very close. They are really the center of our family… maybe the cog in the family wheel.
Alex plays everything very close to her chest. I suppose you heard that she was married for almost 11 years before anyone in the family knew about it… except Max of course. She simply didn’t think to tell us. (Rebecca laughs) That’s Alex, completely focused on something else to the exclusion of every other thing. She and Patrick are very similar. She’s probably his favorite child.
And Max…. he is such a bright person with a big heart. He has that same focus that Alex has. He gets caught up in his world and can forget about the rest of us.
Right except Alex. I like to give Max family responsibilities so that he remembers to connect with the rest of us.
The kids say that Colin is my favorite child. And they are probably right. He is all male with a depth that gives him strength. Of course, he is also the father of my first grandchild which gives him extra favorite child points.
My baby girl is Erin. She’s different from the other children. The other 4 are tall and muscular whereas Erin is smaller and softer. She and I are very similar. We’re similarly wired.
What do you mean?
She easily asks for help and receives it from her siblings. She’s one of the few people that Samantha will slow down enough to talk with. The twins adore her and include her in ways they don’t include the other kids. She and Colin, being right next to each other, have a little friction between them, but Colin says it’s because he is so male and she is so female.
Will you tell me the story of meeting your husband?
(Rebecca laughs) My husband was career army. He came from an alcoholic home and decided early on that he would never marry or have children. He rose fairly quickly in the ranks to become a General at 40 years old.
My father was deeply involved in the Children’s Hospital foundation in Chicago. He sat on the board most of his life. Every spring he held a charity auction at the house. After he died, my mother and I continued the auction in his honor. I’m not really sure how Patrick got invited. I believe he was attending in the place of his superior officer.
I was 24 years old and the first woman in our family to graduate from college. I did not want to attend this function.
You were telling us how you met your husband.
Well, it was fairly simple. I came down the stairs in a white dress with red rose buds on it. He was stand at the bottom speaking with my mother. He turned and looked at me with those baby blue eyes…. And that was that. I am not sure how I got down the stairs. We married three days later.
It was a mess really. My mother was furious. I had a boyfriend from a good Chicago Catholic family; My mother expected me to marry him soon. She was good friends with his mother. I think they’d been planning our wedding for a while.
They were disappointed that you married the Senator? It’s hard to imagine now.
He wasn’t a Senator then but a General. He was… is much older than I am. You’ve met him right?
Briefly, on a couple of occasions.
He’s gorgeous, even at 75 years old, he’s gorgeous, funny, smart. He had a reputation of being a bit of a ladies man. My mother was certain that he would leave me pregnant and alone. (sigh)
You’ve been married now for…
Oh gosh, over 30 years. Let’s see. 35 years this year I think. We’ve been married so long that I can barely remember life without Patrick.
And was your mother right?
Patrick has been a wonderful husband and father. What my father overlooked was Patrick’s capacity for loyalty. He was a loyal soldier and has been a loyal husband. He has always been there for me and our children – even when he had a base to run. If I was overwhelmed, especially with the twins, he would drop everything and come home to help out.
I think we actually love each other more now than we did when we met. It’s been an amazing life. I feel blessed every day that I met this wonderful man.