My plan all along was to do it at the end of my work day. Just another thing to get done on my to-do list. At certain times during the day – in the morning after daycare drop-off and in the middle of my work day around lunchtime – I thought about changing my plan just to get it done sooner. Just to cross it off my list. But I didn’t. I stuck with Plan A – to take my daughter with me to vote.
When I picked her up from nursery school, she greeted me with great enthusiasm. “Yay! We are going to vote!” I remember taking both of my daughters to vote with me about a year ago for the presidential race. I took a picture on the steps of borough hall that day because I thought that we’d be making history. We still did. Would today feel as weighty?
On the car ride to borough hall, we talked about who we’d be voting for this year. This led to a conversation about the difference between towns, states, and countries. It was pouring rain when we went, so the task carried extra challenges: slipping on rain boots in the backseat of the car, balancing the giant golf umbrella over the car door and the roof to cover me while I clicked the harness to her car seat into place. In the parking lot of borough hall, the umbrella blew away. While I unbuckled the car seat, my daughter grabbed onto the umbrella tightly with her hands: “Here, Mommy; I’ll hold it for you.” I remember thinking to myself: “I’ve done something right.”
In order for both of us to stay dry, we had to get close to each other under the umbrella and as we approached the steps of borough hall, with my arm around my daughter, I felt a rush of energy over my body as if the wind took the breath out of me. I felt the energy of the women before me who fought so that I could vote. So that I could take my daughter to help me vote. I started to cry.
I had this moment where I was at a crossroads. Do I burst the bubble of my daughter by explaining to her that girls and women didn’t always have the right to vote? Or, do I allow her to soak it all up with great pleasure and ignore the reason why I was crying?
“Thou shall teach your children” (Deuteronomy 6:7).
“You know, honey, this is a privilege that we have to vote. At one point, women were not allowed to vote – which was not right, but we are really lucky that we can today.”
This led to a conversation about what privilege was and the importance of equality, which led us, most importantly, to… “I voted” stickers.
We were greeted by a woman smiling at us. We walked up to the table to sign-in. More women. I looked at the other table across the room. Only women there, too. I commented to them about what I was just explaining to my daughter. And then I noted that all of the volunteers were women. Oh wait, there is one gentleman “manning” the voting booth to my right. I smiled at him and waved.
I signed in. My daughter already won over the hearts of the volunteers and got three stickers — perhaps one for each female in our house?
We stepped into the booth. I explained the different races to her.
“What’s this button, Mommy?”
“Don’t touch that yet, sweetie. We press that when we are finished.”
I asked her for her opinion about the yes/no ballot questions. To a four-year-old, these answers come easily. If only…
I had a moment in the voting booth where I thought: “my, this is taking a long time. I hope there is not a line forming behind me.” But then I said to myself: “this took me so much longer, but, my, was it so worth it.”
The long way is often more difficult, but so rewarding on the other end.
When we got home, my daughter gave an “I voted” sticker to her younger sister, who proceeded to play with the sticker, place it on her shirt, and then smack-dab into the middle of Doc McStuffins’ belly.
The sight was so beautiful. You go, Doc McVoter. Way to be, girls.
Today we voted. Together. And my, was it a glorious experience.