Four years ago, my first-born child was about ten weeks old. I had a touch (a dab? a dollop? a messy bucketful?) of postpartum depression and was feeling particularly vulnerable in the weeks before Election Day. I was distraught about the war, about the environment, about the future of Constitutional rights in this country. On that sunny November afternoon, I walked into my nearly empty polling place, my baby girl strapped to my chest, and confidently punched in my choices, savoring the neat, cool click of the Votomatic stylus as it pierced the ballot. I was nervous, excited, hopeful; early exit polls were indicating a Kerry win. Things were officially Looking Up.
I will spare you the details of that night, a long, grim night that featured a hormone-addled, despondent mother watching midnight returns while crying onto the head of her nursing child.
Four years later, on this rainy November morning, that same baby girl and I went to vote. Things were different this time: our polling place had lines out the door, the room was chaotic and crowded, my beloved Votomatics had been replaced with cardboard stands, bubble sheets, and black markers. But, after her initial disappointment that Barack Obama would not actually be there, Ellie was excited about the whole process, loved shoving my ballot into the lockbox, loved getting her own "I Voted" sticker. But the best part, the part I want to write down so I never forget, was when she asked to be lifted up to see the ballot and watch me vote.
As I circled in my choice for president, she whispered, "Are you voting for Barack Obama?" and I told her yes I was, right there, see?
And she smiled, nodded, and said, "OK, good. And maybe we could give one to John McCain, too?"
And my heart exploded. I told her, gently, that her idea was really nice, very kind, but that I could only vote for one person and she agreed, but bless her heart: she was just trying to spread the wealth around.
Happy Election Day, my fellow Americans. And God bless us, everyone.