To my three beautiful children,

Today is the day. After weeks of slander from both parties, this yuck-filled election season that has spewed hatred and divided friendships and families comes to a close. Less junk mail will fill our mailbox. The knocks on our door where Mommy has to go out and answer questions and defend her believes will cease. Endless debates will hopefully give way to talk of activities and get-togethers and happiness. No matter the outcome that is announced tonight, today is the start of a new presidency, a fresh heart and mind in the white house, and a time for us to rally together as a nation and feel the blessings that surround us. The day is here. Today is the day that we get to exercise our rights as Americans and cast a vote for the candidate of our choosing. We get to vote because this wonderful country that we live in believes in democracy. As your mother, I get to help you understand that. I get to peak your curiosity and answer your questions. I get to be an example for you, and build in some of your earliest memories of what it means to be in an election year.

Today is also the day that we find out who our commander in chief will be for the next four years. This is unlike any election year that I’ve had in my 35 years of life. It is different because many people view both of our presidential options as less than perfect choices. Each candidate is flawed, but then again, aren’t we all? Be that as it may, these are our choices, and we must vote. We must because our ancestors fought hard for this to be our choice. This is not a year where people are voting for their least favorite, or a year where it doesn’t seem to matter. On the contrary, this is the year where emotions are running high. People have very strong opinions this time around, their hearts and their heads bleed with agony in not understanding the people that differ in opinion from them. It is hard at times to bite our tongues, yet at the same time no one wants to touch the tricky topic of politics. Not this year. Not this month. Not this election. No one wants to admit their inner thoughts in fear of losing friendships and creating a time consuming conflict. Maybe that is because we live in Minnesota Nice territory. Maybe that is everywhere. All I know is that it feels yucky.

In the midst of all the hate, the violence, and the unjust that we have seen play out in America recently, there are a few things I need you to know as your mother.

I want you to know that doing the right thing will always get you farther along in life than doing the wrong thing. Be honest, be kind, be gracious, be humble.

I want you to know that your daddy and I are raising you to say what you feel and what you think. Don’t let others think for you, don’t go along with the crowd if your inner soul speaks differently, be confident in following your heart, be accountable for your choices.

I want you to know that you should love your neighbors, and that your neighbors do not need to look like you or think like you to earn that love. See your differences as strengths to creating a better and more loving community, not fear and ignorance in isolating from our differences.

To my fearless daughters, I am proud of you. This is an important year because it is the first time ever that a woman is on a ballot to be the President of the United States of America. I will not vote for that reason. I will not fill in an oval simply because a woman is an option. That is sexist and ignorant. Knowing that a woman is an option should serve as inspiration however, giving you a hopeful perspective of all that will come in your lifetime. I want you to know that you can go as far as you want to go and I will support you as far as you let me .

 To my amazing son, I want you to know that I am proud of you. I am proud of you for having friends at school that are girls. I am proud of you for having friends at school that do not share your skin color, that do not go to the same church as you, that do not share your same interests. I am proud that every day you tell me about a girl in your class who doesn’t speak, but you notice that she gets excited and laughs. You tell me that means she must like school just like you do. Despite the fact that the two of you have never spoken words to one another, you have found a common interest. May you never lose your heart of gold, and may you carry it with you and spread that love to everyone you meet.
To my Catholic raised husband, I am proud of you. You have always searched for the truth and followed your heart as opposed to following a political party line. You search for understanding and policy issues that positively affect our family and our children’s futures.
To my wonderful students that I have served for a decade, I am proud of you. I have been welcomed into your homes. I have shared hugs and tears, triumphs and heartbreak with your families. Your parents work hard, day and night, to give you the best life they know how. You overcome challenges and obstacles each day, and yet show up at our school ready to conquer the world. In this election, I vote for your voice. I share your stories of love and never-ending strength.
Today is the day. Let’s make it great. Vote. Love. Smile.
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