By Lauren Gonzalez
Last night, along with 80 million of my fellow Americans, I tuned in to the presidential debate (and tried hard to tune out my politically apathetic toddler). My husband and I watched two of the three debates in this election cycle – something neither of us has ever before done.
That’s because this election is special, isn’t it? Ironically, while I can’t find a single friend or family member who will pick a side and declare a decision, and while most point out the appeal of abstaining from the vote, almost everyone I know is, in one way or another, paying attention. It feels important. It feels big. It feels more than ever before like the outcome of this election will determine the course of our lives.
And that feels scary, because what do I know? I’m just a mom, an everyday American trying to live my life, make ends meet, create a small corner of paradise, and keep my kids healthy and breathing. As far as I can tell, this election isn’t going to provide me a free nanny, personal chef, nor house cleaning services. Neither candidate is planning to appoint twenty-four-seven playground monitors to stand in for me and make sure nobody kidnaps my children while I take the world’s fastest pee. There isn’t a measure on the ballot that proposes an automatic Xanax prescription written at every birth. But it still feels like the “right” candidate could make or break us… I really wish I knew who that “right” person was.
As things stand, I agree with aspects of both options, but with neither wholeheartedly. I don’t know who is “right” and who is “wrong,” and I have no idea who will really stand up for my personal interests. If I’m being totally honest, I’m not even sure exactly what my interests are (other than to get a good night’s sleep someday).
As many of my peers have said, I feel such a miniscule degree of control over this entire process and its outcome, it’s difficult to cobble together some semblance of concern and choose a course of action. I’m not convinced that my vote matters, that my voice counts, or that anybody cares about my perspective.
But, as Troy Bolton and his musical peers once sang, “we’re all in this together.” I may not have any clue as to where this gravy train will end up, but I’m committed to living in the America that we build, and to making the best of it. I only have control over my one life, and my own actions, so I commit to use whatever resources I have to reach out, help others, try to create tiny pockets of peace amidst the pandemonium.
These days, it doesn’t often feel like we, the people, are “one” in any sense of the word. But I believe we can get back there, and I believe it starts small – it starts with me. So, in November, I’ll make a decision, I’ll choose a direction, and then I will strive to live and thrive in the chaos that ensues.
If being a parent has taught me anything, it’s that there isn’t a whole lot you can’t come back from. Mistakes will be made, that’s guaranteed. Maybe your car will smell like spoiled milk. Maybe somebody will pee on the couch. But at the end of the day, as long as we’re all alive, fed, and at least half-clothed, there will always be another chance to get it “right.”
Lauren Elizabeth Gonzalez is a Missoula-based writer and blogger whose kids provide ample inspiration for her short stories, social media posts and articles on motherhood. Drawing on her master’s degree and background in conflict and dispute resolution, Lauren is also working on a series of how-to guides to enable parenting partners to build a stronger, more connected team dynamic. Find out more at www.LaurenTheFreeMom.com, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter for a daily peek inside the head of a nutty gal just free mommin’ it.