On June 25th, 2018 I got out of bed, packed up my 11 month old daughter, and got myself down the street to vote in the Oklahoma primaries.
In her short life my daughter has accompanied me to vote twice. Thankfully, we got there before the line got very long. Everyone in line and behind the registration counter was very sweet to us. I was told many times how good and hopeful it made people feel to see a young person out voting, even with a baby along to “see civic duty in action.” Their comments made me reflect on what civic duty meant to me as a child.
When I was growing up I remember watching Bill Clinton in a debate with Al Gore. I was 6 and really liked Mr. Clinton because his tie was a pretty royal blue so obviously, he had my vote. I don’t remember seeing my parents vote even though I know they did. I found out during a conversation with my mom that they voted via absentee ballot. They didn’t talk much about politics in front of my siblings and me because they just aren’t political people. They wanted to influence us by their beliefs, not their politics. To that end they wanted us to learn about the voting process later in life when we were independent thinking adults.
As a result, I honestly didn’t take much interest until the 2012 election and then more so this year because of education issues in Oklahoma.
So there I was filling in the ballot with a baby perched on my left hip, her big blue eyes soaking in everything around her, and I thought about how impressionable this little girl is. Of course, at 11 months she doesn’t know what Mama is doing. However, it is still a way to bring something important into her life. While I appreciate what my parents did I hope to prepare my daughter a little differently then how I was. I want her to be more physically involved with the voting process so she can understand it better then I did. Teaching her why we do the research, why we cast the vote, and how to react if things don’t go the way we want them to is crucial. I believe taking her to vote with me is going to help drive these points home and make it so it is common place so she can be comfortable with it.
After our turn to vote I noticed another mama join the line. She held a small baby in one arm, another toddler’s hand, and a 5-6 year old walked beside them. My first thought was, “Wow. She’s got guts. I want to be like that.” It was encouraging to see someone else who valued their voice as much as I do. Mama bond!
It is so important to raise a child by word and by deed.
They really are watching and listening all the time. “They are sponges!” as my mama friends exclaim often. I appreciated the positive comments directed at us in line that acknowledged the difficulty bringing a child with you to vote and also the importance of making that choice. I hope and pray my daughter grows into a vibrant, independent, and aware young woman. What I can do is continue to model what I believe is something important in our lives.