If there is a place on the ballot for parents – a vote for whether or not we are preparing our children well for the world where by each of our names we would mark Pass or Fail, would I be able to vote for myself with a passing grade? It is a frightening thought, and I am not certain of the answer. We teach our kids so how to do so many things – how to talk, tie laces, read, be a good friend, and drive. So many lessons and firsts that our heads spin! Today marks another “first” in our household – one that I worry and hope that I have prepared my daughter to maneuver. She is voting for the first time. As I watched her take her ballot I was overcome with a tidal wave of parental anxiety – wondering if I have given her the tools she needs as a legally responsible, voting adult. While we’ve had immeasurable discussions about politics in our home over the years, knowledge of the nuances and leaps between political parties is not enough of a tool. I want my kids to possess more in their election toolboxes.
Discernment – Suddenly all of those moments we discussed and debated ideas, topics, and ideals in our home flood through my mind. I don’t think I truly realized all along how much these moments might prepare her to discern for herself which path she finds most relevant and right. While I might not always want to admit it, I am thrilled she is stubborn when it comes to her beliefs. It will hopefully keep her steadfast as she marks her ballots in years to come – implementing discernment with each selection and standing up for what she believes is just.
Gratitude – I ache inside with hope that my daughter felt a deep sense of gratitude as she marked her ballot, and I hope that I have demonstrated over the years that I am grateful for my privilege as a citizen – as a woman – to vote. I am thankful for the civic contributions to our country that politicians have made, even though I may roll my eyes at some of these “contributions” along the way. I am grateful for and humbled by those who came before us in the suffrage movement of decades past and by the military for lives endangered and lost to secure our national freedoms. As I watch on news reports of girls and women robbed of essentials such as food, safety, and life, I imagine that they can’t even envision the right to vote. I hope my daughter and I never take for granted the voices we have, and that we find ways to use those voices to speak for those who cannot.
Faith –This thought both bolsters my confidence and terrifies me that I haven’t done enough. I remember many Sunday mornings spent in the “crying room” at church with four very young children – and the only thing I really prayed for was that the homily would move along so I could escape before my children destroyed the furniture or each other. As my children have grown, helping them learn to fold their hands in prayer, to lift themselves and others up to a higher power, I don’t think I ever did it with the direct thought that it would serve them as they vote. But now I can’t imagine a more powerful component of the voting process. I hope that faith guided my daughter’s hands more than anything else as she cast her first ballot. Faith in a country that may not be perfect, but that is a perfect example of possibilities. Faith in candidates to fulfill duties promised during campaigns. Faith in herself that she is choosing candidates who represent the values, ethics, and morals she holds dear to her own soul. Faith in a purpose and path that leads to amazing wonders.
And I hope that if there ever is a ballot that collects votes regarding the capabilities of parents, that there is an option to mark besides “Pass” or “Fail” – perhaps “Work in Progress” – for that is all we really are.