Jill Scheer on motherhood in the age of social media
Jill Scheer is expecting quite a haul this Mother’s Day.
The mother of five and wife of Conservative leader Andrew Scheer sat down this weekend with The West Block‘s Eric Sorensen, and described how the organized chaos usually unfolds in their household.
“Andrew gets them up early, and they make me breakfast in bed,” she said.
“And then all the homemade gifts, like the necklace made out of Froot Loops. All the homemade drawings, paintings, cards. The ones you tuck away and pull out again in 20 years and probably have a good cry over.”
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As she gets set to wrap up the first year of the family’s new life in Ottawa, Scheer acknowledged that it has taken some time to adapt. The whole clan — including all five kids ages 2 to 13 — relocated from Saskatchewan, which meant new schools, new commutes, new neighbours and new friends.
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Scheer, who studied education at the University of Regina, has also been more publicly visible than ever before over the past several months, attending numerous events alongside her husband and hosting her first solo event on Parliament Hill to raise awareness of the worldwide bone marrow registry.
“All of those things take a little bit of time and a little bit of an adjustment,” she said, adding that she hasn’t spent much time thinking about how their life might shift yet again if the Conservatives win the federal election in 2019.
‘A part of your heart is living outside of you’
All seven Scheers are now comfortably settled in Stornoway, the official residence of the Opposition leader. Most recently home to Rona Ambrose and her partner JP Veitch, it now looks more like a daycare than a formal entertaining space, Scheer joked.
There are toys scattered across the living room and kids running everywhere (at one point during Global’s visit, a plate was heard shattering in the distance). But it takes a lot to rattle a mom of five.
“Before you have kids, you don’t really think about this, but it’s almost like a part of your heart is living outside of you. Something that you couldn’t love more … (but) we can’t be helicopter parents.”
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One of the biggest challenges for both her and her husband, Scheer added, has been fighting the instinct to try to completely shelter their children from the negative attention that can come with political life.
“You can’t. You can have the news on and they see something, or hear something on the playground at school,” she explained.
Social media has added yet another layer that didn’t exist for the children of past political leaders. As with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Andrew Scheer (and sometimes his family) has been the target of constant partisan vitriol that can range from mildly rude to outright threatening. There’s no instruction manual on how to handle that, his wife noted, and the couple can’t really look to older generations for guidance.
“We’re kind of dreading the day that (the kids) ask for a Facebook account or Snapchat, or Instagram,” she told Sorensen.
“But it’ll come, and we’ll have to deal with it as it comes. But so far, it’s just been me dealing with comments and I tend to just scroll past the negative ones and appreciate the nice ones.”
Amid the party fundraisers and House of Commons votes, Scheer said, it’s been very important to make “intentional” time for the kids whenever possible. The whole family tries to have dinner together at least once a week, but sometimes togetherness just happens organically.
“Last night we were all playing basketball in the driveway,” she recalled.
“I think Andrew was still in his suit and I was still in my dress from the event we came home from. And we just took off our shoes and played basketball with the whole family.”
-Watch the full interview with Jill Scheer above, and the extended version below.