There are very few risks I've been willing to take during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. I order Instacart instead of going to the grocery store. Our family gets takeout at restaurants because I don't want to eat in the dining room. My kids are taking part in distance learning rather than opting for the brick-and-mortar option offered in our school district. But I have decided one particular risk is worth taking: I'll be voting in person in the upcoming presidential election. Too much is at stake for my family's future for me to stay home. Although I'm nervous about the safety of heading to the polls in November, I plan to mask up, arm myself with hand sanitizer, and ensure my voice is heard.
In my view, this just may be one of the most important elections of my lifetime in terms of determining how I hope the world will look for my children's futures. It's not just about liking or disliking a certain candidate — I feel very strongly about the direction this country is headed and the kind of society I would want my kids to inherit. And one candidate embodies those values, while the other definitely does not. Indeed, President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden seem extremely far apart on almost every issue, more so than I can recall during other past presidential elections. (It's not exactly like President Trump and Sec. Hillary Clinton, or President Barack Obama and the late Sen. John McCain for that matter, saw eye-to-eye.)
Meanwhile, I think back to how I was worried about my children's well-being a year ago — if only I'd known what was coming! From an invisible enemy that makes my husband and me fear for their health, to a country so divided it keeps me up at night, I miss the "good old days" when the latest tummy bug to sweep through the school was my biggest concern. That, and of course school shootings, which is another issue it seems has turned political, rather than leaders coming together to solve the problem.
The current state of affairs feels so volatile, so full of anger and talking over one another instead of listening, it's clear something has to change in the hearts and minds of many. The solution starts at home in my humble opinion. In our family, we talk about issues affecting this country. We ask our kids how they think the leaders of our country should address these challenges. Their answers are truly insightful and, frankly, thought-provoking for the adults in the house! It's amazing how clearly children see the world, whether it's a discussion about racism or fiscal policy. To kids, things are uncomplicated by politics — it's an enviable position to be in.
I'll definitely take my children's views into consideration as I head to the polls. After all, what am I voting for if not for the future of the little people whose safety and well-being depends on me? As I tell my kids, we are lucky enough to live in a country where we have a way to speak up about what we believe. And so, COVID-19 or not, I plan to put my fears of getting sick on a back burner and be brave. For my family, for myself, and also because I refuse to let the pandemic take everything from me. Not this — it's already taken so much! And especially not now.