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So I’ve Been Sitting on Some News

A few weeks ago, I was approached by the Obama campaign to contribute blog posts for their new Parents for Obama site though I haven’t said anything until now. It is a huge honour to get to share my thoughts on the upcoming election with the general American population, and the twins have been equally excited to get to contribute their story to the re-election campaign. We’re an Obama family, and it is uber-important to me that we’re volunteering as a family to get Obama re-elected.  Though, I will say that some days I can’t tell if the ChickieNob is volunteering because she wants Obama re-elected or if she thinks that by attending things with me, she has a chance to one day be invited by Sasha or Malia to play on the White House swing set.

I am going to cross-post most of my election posts here for posterity (which is a fancy way of saying that I’m really afraid that I’ll one day forget things if I don’t slip them into our written record), but you can read them on the Obama site too. Regardless of your politics, I hope you’ll find the posts meaningful or funny since creating a politically-conscious child crosses all party lines.

So… enjoy!

Why I Take My Children to Vote

The first time I ever voted was in my first grade Weekly Reader, a 4-page mini newspaper that was distributed in public schools in my state. President Carter was up against Ronald Reagan, and I took the casting of my vote very very seriously; so seriously that I remember going around to ask adults why in the world anyone would not vote for someone who had been a peanut farmer. I literally couldn’t fathom a world where actor trumped peanut farmer, and I just wanted to check that I wasn’t missing something before I took my pencil and put a big X in the box next to President Carter’s name. He won in our class by a landslide.

I grew up in the Washington, D.C. area, a highly-politicized area where friend’s parents worked in government and classmates came and went as administrations turned over. Discussion of political issues was commonplace; we lived in the nucleus of the American political cell, the ideas of the time written into our DNA. My parents explained the main issues in child-friendly terms, and I was always aware of their political beliefs while they left me room to develop my own.

And then I had my twins.

The first time I took my twins to vote, they were a few months old. Both were on heart monitors that could be carried over my shoulder like a large plastic (albeit very expensive) handbag. I popped them in my Maximom, a twin baby carrier, so I could walk down to the local elementary school to vote in the Kerry/Bush election. I looked like an opossum carrying my young, gathering like-minded politicians who would represent my ideals in Washington instead of acorns, but I really didn’t care if I could barely see over their bald heads to cast my vote or that we were eliciting many strange stares at our get-up. I felt like I was honouring my parents, honouring all the work they did to raise a politically aware and socially active daughter, when I took my children with me to vote.

My husband and I have carried on the work our parents instilled in us by talking about the issues in age-appropriate ways with the twins. They knew exactly what was at stake with the last election, how much this country needed change. I almost considered getting babysitting for them when I heard about the unusually long lines at our polling place, but they promised to behave, and mostly did except for the moments when they swung their four-year-old bodies from the stairway railing and then climbed up to a landing to call out to the crowd as if they were emcees pumping up the crowd before an event: “Mommy is an Obama Mama Mama Mama!  Are you an Obama Mama Mama Mama?”

When we went into our voting booth, I held each of them up so they could vote. One child touched the box next to Barack Obama’s name, and then I set them down and erased the vote to prepare the screen for their twin. My second child touched the box, and I set them down, erasing the screen a final time so that I could vote too. And I started crying as we all hit submit together because this was living history. My children will be able to tell their children that they voted for Barack Obama in the first election, that they brought that change to this country.

And they got it, they understood how much change could come from a presidential election. They stayed up and watched election coverage with us that night, and when Barack Obama became the President Elect, we went into their room and whispered the news into their sleep-warm ears. I picked them up early from preschool to watch the inauguration on television, jumping up and down on my bed when he was sworn in as president. We shared that celebratory moment as a family.

And now we’re sharing the re-election work as a family. Our twins know that their parents are volunteering to get President Obama re-elected, and they’ve said they want to help out too. They want to write about the election, go door-to-door canvasing, and attend rallies. We talk about marriage equality, health care coverage, and electoral law. Instilling a sense of social action in my children is one of the most important lessons I can convey because it extends beyond the election to teaching them how to be a self-advocate, how to be empathetic and aid others, to find what they care about and make change in this world.

This election is not just about this election when it comes to our children; it’s about taking to heart the First Lady’s It Takes One campaign and understand that it is our job to build the next socially-conscious generation, that we raise a group of people in this country who answer every issue with an “I care” instead of a shrug. When we take on the job of parent, we take on all the responsibilities that come with parenthood including raising our children to contribute to society.

And all of that starts with empowering our children to understand they can be part of this vote.

34 comments

1 It Is What It Is { 08.07.12 at 2:37 pm }

I haven’t had the chance to read the piece, but were you hoping to record these here for “prosperity” or “posterity” ;)

2 a { 08.07.12 at 2:38 pm }

(First, are you cross-posting for prosperity or posterity? Whew. Had to get that off my chest. Sorry.)

My daughter has shown some slight interest in this politics – she knows who the president is. We’ve discussed the campaign a little. It’s fascinating to me that she’s interested at all. We are not politically active, because I am not fond of politicians. I grew up in Chicago, though, where politics are part of daily life. (It’s really the same everywhere, just not always so overt.) It will be interesting to see how her views develop and change over time.

Also, the multilingual stickers are cracking me up a little because my girl has started referring to people as “Yo.” As in, “I voted, yo.” The things they pick up at school…

3 Lollipop Goldstein { 08.07.12 at 2:59 pm }

That’s what I get for not proof-reading before posting :-) Thank you, I fixed it. Though I would like to prosper…

4 Delenn { 08.07.12 at 3:00 pm }

So awesome!! I will be following you along. :-)

5 Meredith { 08.07.12 at 3:50 pm }

This is so exciting!! Congrats! Awesome picture of you with the twins.

6 loribeth { 08.07.12 at 3:59 pm }

Very cool!! Congratulations! (And I am sure that if there is some way for ChickieNob to wangle a playdate with Sasha & Malia, you will find it, lol.)

7 sky girl { 08.07.12 at 4:29 pm }

Wow! Huge news. Congrats Mel!

8 Mud Hut Mama { 08.07.12 at 4:37 pm }

Congratulations! This is so exciting and I love your first post! I had never seen a maximom before – that is awesome. I fully agree that taking on the responsibility of parenthood includes raising children who will contribute to society. Go you! I look forward to following along – we are also an Obama family.

9 luna { 08.07.12 at 5:49 pm }

i heart you. and congrats!

10 nonsequiturchica { 08.07.12 at 6:00 pm }

Congrats! That’s quite an honor. Go Obama! :-)

11 Her Royal Fabulousness { 08.07.12 at 6:22 pm }

This is such an amazing honor, Mel! Congrats! Obama 2012!

12 Esperanza { 08.07.12 at 7:01 pm }

What exciting news! Congrats!

13 Jo { 08.07.12 at 7:59 pm }

Loved this so, do much. I wish more people felt this way.

14 Tiara { 08.07.12 at 8:35 pm }

Congrats on the new blog gig. I think it’s very exciting for you & the twins.

15 Daryl { 08.07.12 at 9:54 pm }

Wow! That’s so exciting! Congratulations.

16 Dead Cow GIrl { 08.07.12 at 9:57 pm }

Wow! I’m so happy for you!! That is a huge honor!!

17 Barb { 08.07.12 at 11:18 pm }

Congrats! Nice peace! Very cool. :)

18 Lori Lavender Luz { 08.07.12 at 11:58 pm }

“why in the world anyone would not vote for someone who had been a peanut farmer.”

Ummm…maybe if they were allergic to peanuts?

So proud of you, Mel. You haven’t aged since Kerry/Bush!

19 Justine { 08.08.12 at 12:24 am }

Woot! What fabulous news! I love the picture of hands-free voting. :)

I brought my son to vote when he was two months old … he was the talk of all the old people in the town hall. And two years later, he voted for Obama, before I voted for Obama for “real.” Among both of my kids’ first words was “vote.” Maybe it’s not so surprising that I have children who speak their minds …

20 KayBee { 08.08.12 at 12:28 am }

Wow! Such amazing news! You are a very inspiring woman! Do you sleep?

21 Sunny { 08.08.12 at 12:33 am }

What an honor! Congrats Mel! :)

22 Baby Smiling In Back Seat { 08.08.12 at 12:55 am }

What an honor! For Obama I mean — he is so lucky to have you blogging for him. :)

The state where I lived until recently is very important election-wise (very key primary plus swing state) but I was always outraged that I didn’t receive I Voted stickers. Of course, I’ve also been outraged when I haven’t received an I Gave Blood sticker. I’m a fan of civic duty and also of stickers, apparently.

23 Mali { 08.08.12 at 1:34 am }

Congratulations Mel! I’m really thrilled for you getting this opportunity, knowing what it would mean to you. And I get to say “I know someone who is writing for the Obama campaign.” (That’s not that common here in NZ!)

24 Elizabeth { 08.08.12 at 4:45 am }

We’re going to be out of the country on election day – good reminder to get my absentee ballots in order while we’re in the US!

25 Mommy-At-Last { 08.08.12 at 7:10 am }

I have to admit to becoming quite emotional about this post! You are an inspiration.

BTW I wish I had had that carrier for my twins when they were little that looks awesome.

26 Emily @ablanket2keep { 08.08.12 at 9:18 am }

That is really exciting! What an honor! Congrats! Can’t wait to read them all!

27 Gail { 08.08.12 at 9:50 am }

Congratulations on the new blogging job! What an honor! I couldn’t have picked a better person and I know you’ll do a great job!

28 Gurlee { 08.08.12 at 11:01 am }

You are so inspiring!

Congratulations from one Obama mama to another!

29 Stupid Stork { 08.08.12 at 4:41 pm }

That is BADASS.

30 magpie { 08.08.12 at 4:55 pm }

You’re so cool.

31 Marci Rich { 08.08.12 at 8:28 pm }

What a wonderful essay! I shared the link to my Facebook page from the Obama site. Well done, brava, and Obama 2012!!!

32 J { 08.09.12 at 4:46 pm }

I voted Obama as well but he is NOT a friend to Israel and I fear deep-down anti-semetic, overall.

33 S.I.F. { 08.10.12 at 3:55 pm }

SUCH a cool honor Mel! I am always inspired by you!

34 Bea { 08.13.12 at 9:45 am }

Ooh! This is exciting!

And I’m glad you’re teaching your kids to be politically aware. Although I am sure they (and you) would have been escorted from the polling grounds for their Obama Mama antics if it had been an Australian election on the grounds of campaigning at the booth. Unless I’m reading it wrong. (What are the laws there about campaigning at booths?)

Bea

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