Sunday, September 07, 2008

I did it.

I actually did it. I scraped the "Life is good" sticker off the back of the mom mobile. I scraped David's "God bless the people of EVERY nation" off from below my "COEXIST" sticker. (Sorry David. Maybe you can send me a new one post Nov 4th? ;-) And removed the READ sticker from Decatur's Little Shop of Stories. And I put my first EVER sticker endorsing a political candidate on my car. Obama '08.

Those who know my own personal leanings might not think that's so unusual. However, those who know the history of the political discussions in our marriage totally understand.

It is a monumental thing.

For the first few years of our marriage, it was because we often (always?) disagreed politically. And I didn't put a sticker for Clinton on my car the first time because I didn't want to ride in his car with a sticker for the opposing candidate on it. (Let it be said that I would not have put a sticker for Clinton on my car for his second term...I remember abstaining that year. Joel says I voted for him. Either way, we lived in SC at the time, so if I did vote for him, I knew it was a token vote, and that it would make no difference in the long run.) So we just agreed that stickers supporting particular candidates were off limits. Over the past few years, however, I have put "political" stickers on my car, just not any supporting candidates. It's been quite clear which way I lean. But they have been stickers that proclaim messages on which we agree, so it's been fine.

And we might agree on this upcoming election--I suspect we will. But Joel will still not openly declare who has his vote--not even to me--and given his position as pastor at Rehoboth, that's probably a good thing. He wants to see the candidates go head to head in debate and listen to what each has to say about the issues. And I respect that. He's a Myers Briggs ENTJ, and that's the way he rolls. I, on the other hand, am an ISFJ, and I roll differently. John McCain seems rather desperate, and I hated the way that he ended his speech the other night with "Fight, fight, fight, fight..." ad nauseum. (Uh, John--have you ever heard of Jesus? Put down your sword, Peter?) Sarah Palin reminds me of a south Georgia redneck, only she's dresses nicer and sounds different. My gut tells me that we differ dramatically when it comes to ideologies, and I don't need to hear them go head to head with my community organizer of choice, Barack Obama. I've supported him from day one, because I like what he says and I like how he says it. I like how he presents himself, and I trust that four years of Obama will be far better for our country than four years of McCain. It's as simple as that.

I sent for a "free one" from, and it sat on the table in our kitchen for a while. (I cut the little "moveon" tagline off the bottom because I do know and respect that Joel doesn't care for that group.) Then I casually asked him if he'd be okay with my putting it on the van. He seemed nonplussed by it, and muttered something like "Sure." And it sat there through both conventions, just as I sat through both candidates' speeches. And when the balloons and confetti were all swept away, when I had heard bits and pieces of both conventions, and listened in full to both Obama and McCain, I did it.

I put the Obama sticker on the van. And it feels good.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Parenting 201

I'm not a perfect parent. Let me just say that up front. And I know that Joel & I can do the best job that we are capable of doing, and yet our sons might make poor choices that lead them down a destructive or harmful path. We don't always give them the time that they need or deserve, and we often put our own needs before theirs. But at least 350 days out of the year, they know, without a doubt, that one of us will tuck them into bed at night. They know that one of us will be there to get them off to school. They know that one of us will be there to share the evening meal with them. And they know that either of us is there at a moment's notice if they have emergency or a need that simply cannot wait. They know that. And we live that. I pray that the job we are doing has been / will be enough to keep them safe and on the "right track," and lead them into a satisfying adult life in which they find meaning in what they do, and happiness with the one/s whom they share their life.

With that said, I now quote Republican Vice-Presidential Nominee Sarah Palin: "Our beautiful daughter Bristol came to us with news that as parents we knew would make her grow up faster than we had ever planned. We're proud of Bristol's decision to have her baby and even prouder to become grandparents," Sarah and Todd Palin said in the brief statement. "Bristol and the young man she will marry are going to realize very quickly the difficulties of raising a child, which is why they will have the love and support of our entire family," they added.

Bristol Palin is 17 years old, and pregnant. Not really a newsworthy thing in today's world...unless your mother is the token female conservative on the Republican's presidential ticket. Then it's on every news website. I found out from a facebook status message.

My first thought is that I feel sorry for this young, soon-to-be-wed mother and her soon-to-be-husband. I have had friends and family members who have begun their families in a similar way, and it's not easy. And while I know that the parents are not to blame for the indiscretions of their children, I can't help but wonder what this child's life has been like for the past few years. Who has been home for her, listening to her talk about her day and sharing laughs with her as they make snacks together? Who has tucked her in at night? Who has been signing the test papers and report cards that come home from school? Who has helped her deliver fundraising purchases for her school? Who has taken her back-to-school shopping? Who has tucked her in at night? Who has picked her up from school when the nurse has called saying she's not feeling well?

Maybe the vice-presidential nominee has done all this with her daughter--who knows? But if she has indeed done all (or even some) of the above, as well as run a state government, and stayed up-to-date on world and national politics and situations, then she is, indeed, Wonder Woman.

But I doubt it.

Or maybe Todd Palin, her dad has done between his training and racing in the Iron Dog snowmobiling race (as well as recovering from injuries sustained in said races), and supposedly "taking care of the kids."

I know I might get lambasted for suggesting this, but I wonder...if Sarah Palin had not been so invested in her political career, and Todd Palin not so invested in his snowmobiling (he's the reigning co-champion of the Iron Dog) would things have been different for this young, unwed mother?

When people make a decision to have children, it often means making hard choices. Having one child is hard, having three is harder, and having five, including one with Down's Syndrome, must be even harder. And while I certainly don't believe that one's decision to marry and / or become a parent means that one must surrender all of his or her own dreams or goals, neither do I believe that when once decides to marry and / or become a parent she can continue to pursue individual goals and dreams in the same way that one can as a single person. Entering into a relationship of any kind means compromise and often sacrifice--it's just as simple as that. it doesn't mean LOSING ONE'S SELF, but it does mean working together for the good of the whole--which is often not what feels best to the individual.

I find it terribly disheartening that while Sarah Palin was off pursuing a high-profile political career and promoting her socially conservative agenda (which, I'm sure, includes abstinence-only sex education), and Todd Palin was off being the champion for Alaska's blue collar workers, or off definding his Iron Dog champion title on his snowmobile, their daughter Bristol turned to her boyfriend Levi for companionship, which led to intimacy, which will now lead to marriage at seventeen (because I suspect her parents didn't present her with any other choices...), and I sadly the end, or at least the significant delay, of many of her own hopes and dreams.

Even if Palin were the Democratic VP Candidate, I'd have a really hard time voting for her because I, as a mother myself, want to put the welfare of her 17 year-old daughter over my own political leanings.

But then again...who am I to judge? I just ache for Bristol. Because a road that would have been hard enough without the media attention has been made more difficult because of Sarah Palin's choices to pursue national political service. I pray that Obama and Biden have the decency to downplay this as much as possible. It has enough damaging power on its own without them mentioning it at all.

By the way, with the DNC behind us, middle son Daniel is supporting Obama-Biden with full force now. Thank you, God!