A few hugs, two stickers, one vote between us

There are so few times that I can grab the hand of my seven-year-old and hold on. He is getting older, wiser, and more independent. He engages in the world in ways that encourages him to peel away from me, stand on his own, challenge me gently with his blooming ideas.

I can however, often count on the vulnerable space between his long arms around my waist after a long day, around my shoulders, around my heart. I hope hugs will always be allowed between mothers and sons.

And no matter how old he gets, I hope we can continue to share in those precious, important moments, to hang out. This morning was exactly that kind of opportunity. I wanted to take him with me to vote. So as my oldest crawled out of bed and found his way through the earliest parts of his day, I invited him to join me. He smiled widely, then reminded me, “Mom, I’m not 18, I can’t vote.” I smiled, then said, “that’s o.k., you can help me.” He agreed.

So this morning, as I stood in line to cast my ballot, instead of offering my dangling arm for my son to cross, slide his fingers in the cusp of my grip, follow me towards the future—I found myself looking for the pale of his open hand, the sort of his swinging arm, the uncertainty of his stride, his head held high. We were there to vote, and engage with all that comes along with that responsibility. I walked him through the process step by step. And as we stood there waiting, I searched for thoughts of my son’s future, his rambling dreams, what I wish for him, what he doesn’t yet know to wish for himself.

Today when I voted, it reminded me that I spoke not only for myself but for my sons, with my sons; with the sons and daughters I’ve never met, the ones I’ll never meet, the narrative of their lives unfolding and uncertain.

Then finally inside the open wings of that voting machine, my son and I stood together, as we read the candidate choices, and I carefully pressed my finger against the touch screen. We listened to the tapping ticker of the ballot box, watched the stitched mark across the curling tally, held hands without saying a word–voted.

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Categories: Parenting

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