The parent vote
By now you likely feel over-saturated with all the election hullaballoo — the commercials, the emails, the Facebook soapboxing, perhaps a tense conversation or two at the dinner table.
We’re almost there. It’s almost over.
While this probably isn’t your first election, it might be your first major election as a parent — as a toddler parent.
This may be the first election year in which you realize that the security of your well-practiced swaddle and ability to rock, cuddle and sing through your own sleepless stupor isn’t enough.
Your child is walking, talking, reaching out into this messy, magnificent world — mingling, mixing and exploring.
Then, soon, he’ll go to school.
In a little over a decade, he’ll leave home.
A new point of view
As you raise your child from infancy to toddlerhood and — eventually — beyond, you may start to develop strong opinions about political issues with a newfound fervor, far beyond that of the college rallies you might have taken part in when you were voting in your very first election.
If it matters way more to you who we elect President NOW — as a parent — you’re not alone.
You may wish for the world to be as sweet and simple as when you were a kid, or you may expect more from your elected representatives.
You may even start to care — in earnest — about local School Board officials.
It all matters now.
How it matters might surprise you, even with the possible result of flipping parties.
Maybe you’re considering your financial future — including eventually paying for college — and the tax dollars you pay on the modest income you make at a job that takes you away from your kids.
Maybe you want the government to butt out of your life and how you live it, leave well enough alone the choices you make for your children.
Maybe guns have become a hot topic in your house — safety and regulation versus the right to go hunting, come November, with Grandpa.
Maybe you have a daughter and want her to grow up without anything other than the knowledge that she can be absolutely anything.
Maybe your child has a disability and you’re looking for a U.S. senator who will fight for you.
Maybe you’re burdened by how much you care now — now that the womb and the car seat and the high chair and the cradle and your arms are not all that protect them.
In it right now
Quite possibly you’re disenchanted with your choices. Because no candidate, no policy, no referendum is good enough for your child. That’s fair. I feel you.
I encourage you to vote anyway. And by all means, vote with your Mama Heart and your Papa Voice — progressive, hard-working, hunting, fishing, wishing for simplicity and not taking any crap.
We often hear the yapping politicians say they want this or that “for the children.” But you, as parents — in it right now — are the only ones who can determine what that looks like.
You’re the most important vote of this election, because you have a real, goofy, yogurt-loving, tantrum-throwing investment in the future.
So the choices might not be what you want them to be. So it might be hard to get to the polls, what with the runny noses and deadlines at work and dinner to get on the table.
Breathe. Go. Vote. Be a voice for parents, for parenting.
Bring your toddler into the booth. Give her the sticker. Start a new and important family tradition.
Jen Wittes is a freelance writer and mother of two who lives in St. Paul. Send questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.