Tuesday, November 4, 2008

And I Can Assure You: She's No Socialist

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.

Bygones.

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.

26 comments:

lapoflux said...

She's lucky to have you explaining it to her.
Our kids were quite interested in our election last month - the Stu is almost 7 so we discussed about government and voting etc... never too early to start them on the path of civic duty.
Here's hoping that this election is easier to digest.

The Boisterous Butterfly-by said...

I have an award for you over at my place. Please come and get it.

the cheap chick said...

You just captured for me why I LOVE being an American. Voting is the single-most AWESOME thing we do, and I'm so glad you could share that with your daughter.

Mike Golch said...

Since you voted I have something over on my site.Come and get it!

Kristen M. said...

So sweet! It sounds like she will grow up to be kind and fair. That's not socialism, that's just good breeding.

Blue Mountains Mary said...

Mel - I am here in Australia - reading all the news headlines as they come in on the laptop just nervous for you all.

And so very hopeful.

X

Lisa Milton said...

She's got a good heart there, mama. I'm feeling so hopeful this morning, I could burst.

Anonymous said...

This post struck many chords...the least of which being that my 4 week old son went voting with me four years ago, hoping for the same outcome...and I spent that night crying into my nursing infant's head, too. But my four year old boy went with me today and assailed me with "Who are we voting for, Momma?", to which the only response he'll accept is "Barack Obama".

Here's to hope & four year old innocence.

heidi said...

4 years, and 1 month, and 4 days ago, I was in the same boat. here's to a MUCH better next term than the last ;-)

diana said...

Love this cute story! {Funny how even a child can grasp the idea of sharing!}

iCarrie said...

We have a country of very smart four year olds. Aren't we lucky to have them around? :)

JessTrev said...

Holy Miss Adorable Kind Heart. My 5 year old can read so she herself (shhh! they may throw our votes out) connected the lines for Mr. Obama on both her dad's and mom's ballots. She's pretty pleased with herself. In fact, she went to bed saying, "I voted for BARACK OBAMA!!"

Sweet Pepita said...

She just may be president herself one day with that kind of compassion!

Geoff let Pepita click his Obama vote! (Don't worry, he double checked to make sure she did it right!) We are very proud.

i am very mary said...

maybe ellie can give one to me, too?

Stu said...

Are you sure she is not a socialist?

My kids were excited about the "I voted" stickers too.

stephanie (bad mom) said...

Bless her heart indeed.

Clearly you are a phenomenal mom, tears on her nursing head & all...

Nora Bee said...

That socialist babe of yours. She's in the tank.

Amy the Mom said...

That story is sweet on so many levels.

I am SO jealous of your skill.

J. said...

What a sweet story, Melanie. Thank you for sharing. (We took our 10-year-old daughter, who was wearing her "Future President" t-shirt to the polls with us, and she looked on as I filled in the ovals and cast my vote for Obama. Very poignant.)

I was actually in D.C. yesterday morning, actually inside the White House, and spoke with a few Secret Service types who were really looking forward to the election AND the inauguration being over. (They have already begun inauguration preparations all over D.C. Pretty amazing.)

Made it back to CT in plenty of time to vote (Jim Himes beat Chris Shays! Thanks in part to me!) and was up until midnight last night, crying tears of joy over my keyboard as I covered the election live. Just added Obama’s acceptance speech and some other cool stuff, which is definitely worth a look (hint). : )

dharmamama said...

Oh, this is sweet.

The difference between 2004 & today is, literally, like night & day. I was *numb* after the election in 2004. I remember going to church the next Sunday, and everyone looked shell-shocked. (I'm a member of a very liberal church.)

Your little sweetie's got it! She really does.

Stacy (mama-om) said...

I love it!

Orlando (who is five) pointed out to me that I forgot to fill in some of the bubbles.

:)

~m said...

Four years ago: not good.

This year: awesome. And isn't it just so wonderful that we were able to share such an historic event with our little ones (even tho the Tiny Tyrant will have no memory of it...).

It's far better than tears on a nursing baby's head :)

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I didn't start voting absentee until this year--I wanted my kids to have the experience of going to the polls with me.

The political discussions we have at the dinnertable now are priceless--the voting booth talks pay off!

Sojourner said...

I love this- and all the other stories here about kids at the polls. It occurs to me- these kids will reap the benefits or consequences of these votes. So it is sooo appropriate that they were watching you cast your votes! It seems so "karmic" to me.

Saucy said...

You go ahead and raise a nice little socialist, just like MOI! We've gotta stick together. I lurrve that she wanted to spread it around! What a sweetie.

Moxy Jane said...

Aw, man! We have an all electronic voting thingamajiggy. I would have LOVED to have had my girls put the ballot in the box. But they did all push the BIG RED BUTTON with me. And that felt nice.

Thank you for such a sweet little story from the day.