Celebrating Moms On the Trail: Natalie Mihalek

Rep. Natalie Mihalek was elected in 2018 to serve the citizens of the 40th Legislative District in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. She and her husband, Jeremy, reside in Peters Township with their three young children.

[KATELYN] Tell us a little bit about your decision to run. What motivated you, and what did you hope to accomplish in office? What was that conversation like with your family as you were making this decision?

[MIHALEK] I first ran for office in 2018. Having just had my third child in 2016, I felt a strong desire to make a positive impact on our community. I got involved with a local political committee and when our longtime state representative decided to retire, I saw an opportunity to step up and make a difference. So I volunteered to run, “'If not me, then who?” I thought. I believed in my work ethic and my ability to serve the district well.

Did your kids participate in any aspects of your campaign?

Definitely. Although they were young for my first election, they understood enough that they liked seeing my yard signs around the neighborhood. We had “mommy” shirts and they’d come to parades and events. They thought it was cool.

Now, six years later, my oldest is 12, my middle child is 11, and my son is almost eight. They know how to assemble the yard signs and who to ask in the neighborhood to put them in their yards. In a few weeks, they’re going to round up some kids for the Memorial Day Parade and hand out candy. 

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It’s been a great learning opportunity for them. They’ve been able to go to the state capitol and see how the state legislature works. They’ve been on the house floor dozens of times, been to committee meetings, and gotten firsthand exposure.

Were there any difficult situations that you had to overcome in regards to balancing your campaign and family life?

Balancing family and campaign life is a logistical difficulty every day. It gets hard to travel since I’m three and a half hours from the state capitol. We FaceTime constantly as a family and I do a lot of meal prep on Sundays. It’s difficult, but it’s also worth it for sure.

In your experience, have you encountered any unique aspects of your position that women should be aware of when aiming for similar roles, especially as a mom? 

As a woman in this position, there were a couple of things. When I first ran, I was asked about my children – where they were, who would care for them. It was frustrating because my male counterparts weren’t asked these things about their families. They were asked about real issues.

At first, I was defensive. Now, I share the experience my kids have had because of my position. They’re prepared for discussions about government and politics. They won’t shy away from difficult conversations.

What advice would you give, or a piece of wisdom you wish you’d known?

A lot of women, including myself, struggle with imposter syndrome. Running for office made me realize I’m not an impostor. I am actually doing this job, and doing a pretty good job of it too. If you set out to do something and you want to do it, you will find a way to make it happen.

How are you celebrating Mother’s Day this year?

For Mother’s Day, I let my kids surprise me. Last year, I got breakfast in bed, cards, and flowers. They might make a reservation at my favorite place. This morning, my daughter wanted me to braid her hair and mentioned that she noticed I was running low on lip gloss. I have a feeling there’ll be a trip to Sephora in her near future!