This Sunday morning, I am up before the sun. My toddler daughter and I have breakfast; I clean oatmeal from places I didn’t even know oatmeal could go. Once I corral her into clothes and miniature sneakers, we head out the door.
It’s one of those beautiful fall mornings when the sun is warm and the shade is cool. I push our little girl in her stroller, watching her feet kick as we walk in the direction of her favorite park.
We pass only a few people; it feels as though the hushed, sunlit town belongs to us. We play at the park for a golden hour, chasing squirrels and swinging and sliding down the slide.
(She tried to step off the slide toward her dad the moment he snapped this shot.)
We start for home in time to see the churchgoers coming out in force. Cars are filling up parking spaces and people are milling around in masks.
And I start thinking about why I don’t go to church anymore. Then I remember that isn’t precisely true, because two of my closest friends and I meet on Zoom on Sundays. We’ve created this beautiful gathering, this sacred space.
And I hope that the people going inside these big buildings have that same sense of connection that I do at our Zoom gatherings, that feeling of being seen and known and loved in all their strength and all their frailty.
These are the thoughts I’m thinking when I see the sticker on the car parked directly in front of a local church.
Granted, there’s a church on nearly every corner downtown and this car could belong to anyone, but I have the sickening sense that this one actually does belong to a churchgoer.
The all-caps sticker reads, “JOE AND THE HO / VOTE NO / 2020.”
I feel as though someone has dumped a bucket of ice water on me. The warm day suddenly feels cold.
It’s not that I’m that naive; of course I know that our US political situation has long since deteriorated into this kind of vindictive name-calling.
But the sticker is so jarring; it strikes such a wrong note on such a right morning. This vulgarity does not belong outside this church, and it definitely does not belong where my daughter can see it.
I know this sticker is just the tip of the iceberg, and there’s so much more where this came from.
But it’s the first time I’ve seen something like this when I have my daughter with me. And it appalls me on a deep level.
She’s just over a year old; she can’t read or understand the words. But still, I push the stroller faster. Something primal in me wants to shield her from the ugliness.
I am quiet on the walk home, watching our girl chomp an apple and realizing: Shoot, I will need to write about this.
Why? Because as a mother, it’s my job to take care of my child, but it’s also my job to create a better world for her.
The Status Quo Isn’t Good Enough
Unless we do something, our kids are going to grow up in a world where our elected leaders shame women and call them derogatory names and bully them out of positions of power.
Unless we do something, we will keep the status quo. This includes white supremacy, racism, homophobia, transphobia, and xenophobia.
And frankly, that’s not good enough for me.
So I am going to ask you to please get yourself ready to vote now, because …
We are kind and thoughtful and thousands strong; we can make a difference.
I, personally, need to know that we can do better than this.
I need to know that we did our part to create a better world for our children.
As one of my heroes, Martha Beck, wrote in her own missive yesterday,
“One of the most small, brave things you can do is this: vote in the upcoming election. It may take a series of steps to register, get a vote-by-mail ballot, or show up at a voting site. But historic changes occur when we exercise the courage to take these steps.”
Courage, dear hearts.
Go here to register to vote or confirm your registration.
(And if you’ve already done it? Follow up with your family members and your friends, particularly those with health challenges who may need extra support voting this year. Feel free to forward them this email, if it helps.)
(Originally sent as an email to our community on October 20, 2020 – the email was so popular and received such a great response that we turned it into a blog post!)
This post was originally an email to my community; subscribe below to receive stories each week. You’ll also get the Getting Real and Letting Go quote book.
Solemn No Spam Vow: I promise never to share your email with anyone else.
My niece (who just turned 18) told me yesterday that she wasn’t going to vote because she doesn’t know much about the process or the candidates and ballot measures – and that she’s tired of all the political stuff (me too).
We spent some time talking about why it is important to vote, why not to just listen to the TV/Radio/Social Media ads and do your own research, where to find the research, and that she doesn’t have to tell anyone who/what she is voting for (her friends are pressuring her for her stance) – including dialogue like, “I’m going to vote my conscience” or “still researching the candidate or ballot measure”.
I hope she decides to go to the polls with me and my husband and stand up for who/what she believes is correct.
Bridget, what a great moment for you and your niece – I’m so glad that she has you in her life to help support her in taking this step, educating herself, and making an empowered choice for herself.
Thank you for sharing this with me and with us all – it’s an important reminder that change happens in these kinds of conversations. Just think, she’s 18 now, you might have helped make a difference for another 80+ years! 😉