Whether on national TV or balancing the everyday pressure’s life brings, we need to turn our attention to the bread and butter of our society—the hard-working moms that fight to ensure there is food on the table, their kids are healthy and educated, and their personal lives with loved ones are intact.
I spoke with Rachel Campos-Duffy, a married mother of eight and a regular Fox News Channel contributor. Yet, despite her nationally recognized image, she is your typical at-home mom.
Campos-Duffy, 47, and married to Wisconsin Congressman, Sean Duffy, has been in the public eye since their public appearance on MTV’s reality television show, The Real World, where she met her husband.
“We were actually the first reality TV couple,” said Campos-Duffy. But, amidst the TV fame, she had a full plate of responsibilities surrounding her at the same time:
“When I was first casted as a member of the groundbreaking MTV reality show, ‘The Real World, San Francisco’, I was a newly college graduate with a degree in economics. When I found out I was selected, I was waitressing for about a month after I graduated. So, in some respect, reality TV was my first ‘real world job’.”
Yet, having been in the public eye since she was 22 years old, being a political spouse in today’s environment isn't anything new for her to tackle.
“I do think marrying a fellow reality TV person has helped,” she explained.
“We both come from the same background and we adapted to the scrutiny at a very young age. When it comes to online haters, reality TV is great preparation for politics. We both have very thick skin—like armadillos. The scrutiny and criticism just roll off of our backs; we actually find a lot of it very funny. I sometimes read the mean tweets to my husband and older kids. Sean and I would be laughing our heads off and our kids are perplexed and confused by our reaction. I hope we are teaching them not to care about what others—especially anonymous online trolls—think about them.
Understanding how to balance the everyday pressures of life with work-related pressures can help ensure a well-rounded home.
As a cybersecurity and privacy enthusiast, I was most interested in how she and her husband are able to maintain their own sense of privacy and space.
“We are both total homebodies and very family oriented,” Campos-Duffy responded. “Our home is our sanctuary and we spend as much of our free time as we can together at home or in the summer at our little lake cottage in Northern Wisconsin. Sadly, we have become more careful about security.”
The Fox News contributor told me that a little over a year ago, “a Bernie Sanders volunteer opened fire on a dozen Republican Congressman on a baseball field, leaving one, Rep. Steve Scales, fighting for his life. After that, we began to take our family’s personal safety much more seriously and installed cameras and a security system.”
While still keeping the faith, Campos-Duffy believes that “if the rhetoric and demonization of people with different political views doesn’t stop,” this acts as disincentive for those honorable and good people whom may no longer be willing to serve in politics.
"We can't let violence ever be part of our American politics. We've got to teach our kids tolerance and to be better examples of it in our own political discourse."-Rachel Campos-Duffy
As a mother, Campos-Duffy believes much of this intolerance is learned on college campuses, “and this needs to change.”
I asked the Fox News contributor what advice she has for similarly situated working-moms who may be struggling to balance their personal life with ensuring there is always food on the table.
“While I believe in hard work, I also believe, that as moms, whatever our situation may be, we need to stop being so hard on ourselves."
She also pointed out that she was an at-home mom for 14 years before she started working:
"I can tell you from first-hand experience that being at home and working outside of the home have their own set of challenges and benefits. If you are a single working mom, my message to you is that working to put food on the table for your family is an act of LOVE and SERVICE. I can’t think of a more loving act. There is so much dignity and honor in that and mothers should be proud of what they do and raise their kids to be grateful for a parent who is working and doing the best they can for their family.”
Even as a strong, successful, and hard-working mother and public figure, Campos-Duffy is no stranger to personal tragedy, which has helped shape her into who she is today as a wife, mother, and work-place professional:
“I was in a tragic car accident in my mid-20’s,” she told me. “A driver fell asleep at the wheel and hit our car head on. Everyone involved died, except me. I was the sole survivor. That kind of loss and trauma teaches you to understand mortality at a young age. Life is precious.”
Last Tuesday, Fox News launched its subscription-based digital streaming service, ‘Fox Nation’, which plays host to a variety of programming and content with network stars such as Sean Hannity, Tomi Lahren, Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, and Brit Hume.
Fox Nation’s newest programs, “Moms”, is a monthly series hosted by Campos-Duffy, featuring an ensemble of “motherhood” from across the country, depicting a variety of backgrounds, such as military moms, congressional moms, entrepreneurial moms, and even small business owner moms.
While it can be said that not everyone will agree on political values and beliefs, Campos-Duffy believes that a show like “Moms” can help provide a wider perspective on what it takes to be a successful mother and life partner.
The TV host told me that this show is unique because it’s not filmed in a television studio.
“We want viewers to know that this is authentic and real,” she added. “We are not filming it in a television studio; so that the show feels casual, comfortable, spontaneous, and honest.”
According to the TV host, “everybody has a story—a love story, family story, and even a life story.”
“We are wired to understand things through stories and we learn from other people’s stories. That’s what this show is ultimately about---the stories of moms across America. I hope this long-form conversation with other interesting and dynamic moms will help viewer-moms learn from, relate to, and see our common struggles and humanity as parents trying to do the best we can for our families.
For Campos-Duffy, family is a priority and her vision is that ‘Moms’ will help make family great again. By putting the true meaning of family and marriage back on our priority list, the FOX Nation TV host believes our country can get back on track:
“Think about how much time we all spend talking about politics, pop culture, social media, money, or even strategizing our careers," she emphasized.
"We should be spending more time thinking about marriage and family life, while looking at those other things through the prism of a marriage and family. Families are the foundation of our country. The most difficult problems our government is trying to fix or throw money at, stem from the breakdown of the family. When families are healthy and strong, our country will be healthy and strong.”-Rachel Campos-Duffy
Married for nearly twenty (20) years, Campos-Duffy and her politician husband, Congressman Sean Duffy, have raised eight children together—Evita, 19, Jack, 17, Lucia-Belen, 14, John-Paul, 12, Paloma, 10, Maria-Victoria, 8, Margarita, 4, and Patrick, 2.
Yet, her responsibilities as a Fox News contributor hasn’t disrupted her responsibilities as a mother and a wife:
“I am a mother to eight kids who range in age from two years old to a nineteen-year-old just starting college,” Campos-Duffy emphasized. Even in rural Wausau, Wisconsin, Campos-Duffy shops at Walmart and is your typical at-home mom.
“It’s crazy! We spend a lot of time thinking about our calendar and trying to keep our priorities in order. It’s never perfect and there’s a lot of recalibration that goes on, but we keep at it. My husband is an amazing partner in life and we work together very well. I am also blessed to have parents who have always been willing to watch their grandkids, as well as a good family friend who is our babysitter when I travel for work.”
During our conversation, Campos-Duffy told me that many of her television hits are done through satellite at a television studio a few minutes from her home.
“Fox News has been incredibly good to me and have always respected the fact that I have a family, giving me opportunities despite me living in the Midwest and far from their headquarters.”
For those couples who are similarly inundated with their work while raising children, the mother of eight wants similarly situated mothers to understand how to balance work life with family life. But, she recognizes that this isn't the easiest of tasks.
“Finding the right balance between work and family life is a struggle,” she pointed out.
“My husband and I talk all the time about where we are at and are constantly analyzing our situation, our opportunities, and our calendar to make sure it is working for our family and our sanity. We are constantly recalibrating and adjusting things. It’s never perfect, but we are always striving to do our best. The worst thing you can do is feel like you are on autopilot and not in control of your time or life. We all need to take time to think and strategize to make sure we are working smart on the professional and home front. I always say that my job as a mom is to get my kids to heaven, not Harvard. If you can distill everything you do as a parent down to the basics—raising good kids who are kind and self-disciplined, then it’s easier to prioritize family issues and stop sweating the small stuff.
Just like Campos-Duffy did shortly after her college graduation, today's millennials and college graduates have the world at their hands.
Yes, the economy proves to be tough when it comes to the job market, but that doesn't mean there aren't opportunities out there. You just have to be willing to do some digging.
Campos-Duffy advised me along with the rest of our millennial generation to be open minded. For those who may be uncertain as to which pathway to take in the future ahead, it's not something unheard of.
"Be open to new and different experiences that come your way," she pointed out.
"I thought I wanted to be a diplomat and studied international affairs in graduate school. I even did an internship with the State Department in Venezuela. Despite my parents concern, I auditioned for and got a spot on a crazy reality show called the real world on MTV which totally changed my life. It took me in the direction of television but also, it was where I met my husband, the most important decision of my life. Without the real world, there’s no way I would’ve met a Midwest lumberjack law student from Wisconsin. He’s the reason I can never regret anything I did from my reality television days in my 20’s. It’s all part of our love story. One that’s still going 8 kids and 20+ years later."