This year I went to vote alone. The last time I showed up with all six in tow was for the presidential election in 2008. I had this great vision of it being a monumental learning moment for them. The adventure to cast my vote began with all of us trudging up a long, winding path to the building where I vote. As we are walking up to the door I see that there is a line of people waiting for their turn. I am excited thinking this gives me time to talk to the kids about how important it is to vote. With my beautiful children gathered around me as we stand in line, I begin my “State of the Newsome” address about the importance of voting. Elspeth interrupts tells me to tell me her tummy hurts. Without missing a beat, she projectile vomits all over me. The line suddenly begins to look a bit overwhelming. She seems to feel better after losing her cafeteria lunch on me, so I decided to keep my place in line. Before I can say the “please don’t let this be the stomach bug” prayer in my mind and get back to my speech, I notice Finn heading for the bushes. My sweet son seems to be drawn to using the bushes as an outhouse. This child has been seen by millions on the Supernanny doing just that. Why do I have to vote at the one precinct surrounded by bushes? I decide it is time to run interference without losing my place in line.
I ask Daly to go grab Finn and get him to stop before he begins to water the shrubbery. Daly decides to use the opportunity as a passing drill and throws the football to his little brother. The problem is his brother was not expecting to have a football thrown at him, so it hits him on the back causing him to lose his balance and fall into the bushes. Moira is blowing into her plastic recorder practicing Christmas Carols for the school program. This is her first time to touch a recorder and the shrill sound is making me feel anything but festive. The older girls look mortified as I ask them to please go pull their brothers out of the bushes. There are only two more people in front of me, just a few more minutes and I can cast my vote so my children will see how every vote counts.
And then it happens. A candidate who is running for local office walks in to vote. He goes right to the front of the line. My mind is racing with the things I would like to say to him. “Excuse me sir, but I have been patiently waiting here in line for half an hour. Those are my sons, the future of America, climbing out of the bushes with twigs coming out of their hair. My teenage daughters, who could someday run this country, are complaining about what a bad mom I am because I brought them somewhere with poor phone reception. Those Christmas Carols you hear being played are from my daughter trying to start a sing along. And if you aren’t careful, the little one who looks a bit green is likely to throw up all over your nice suit. I still have four loads of laundry to do, dinner to make, baths to give, homework to check and I pray that I make it to the gas station without running out when I leave here. If you wanted to be a real gentleman, since I have been waiting in this long line for my turn, why don’t you stand here with my kids while I go vote. If I don’t return in ten minutes, don’t worry. It just means I’m taking a break from living the American Dream”.
Since I am supposed to set an example for my children I bite my tongue. As he walked by he gave me the thumbs up. I couldn’t help but smile thinking maybe in a way I can relate to that politician. Here I was trying to represent my six little people and cast my vote so their voices could be heard. The reality is no matter how good my intentions were, just as I am sure that politician knows, there is no way to keep everyone happy. So this year I decided to keep this mommy happy. I went and voted alone.