November 7, 2017 was Election Day. Our Year of Hope was not a presidential election year. It wasn’t even a midterm election year. The big question on the ballot was purely local.
In many of the prior years, we (our family of four) had been away for Election Day. New Jersey schools are closed on the Thursday and Friday of this week for a teacher’s convention and many families—like ours—use the week to get away. Because we’d canceled that year’s trip—that Disney Marvel cruise—this year, we were home for Election Day and it seemed like a good idea to teach G and H about their civic duty.
I remember running through the parking lot in the pouring rain to get to our designated voting place. I remember taking the kids into the booth and showing them what to do. I remember calling Matt afterward to see if he’d changed his mind about coming to vote. He hadn’t. He was too tired to leave the house. Yesterday’s busy day—therapy and a dinner out with his friend—meant that he needed most of the day to recover.
When I sit to write a post, I scroll first through the text messages. Many times, I find enough detail about the day to spark a memory or craft a story and I don’t look further. If I can’t find a story, I’ll look to the emails and photos. Usually when I sift through the photos, I overlook the ever present screenshots, funny memes, and political cartoons in favor of a story more directly related to the day. Today, the screen shots, funny memes, and political cartoons are the story.
Despite slowing down our Year Of Hope, deconstructing every moment in order to reconstruct our hope, I still missed the last time Matt took a screen shot of a political meme, the last time he came home ranting about something in the news. Somehow, the days of of him coming home ranting about politics had stopped. And I missed it. First in 2017 and now, again, in 2018.
I’m not surprised. Though I entered this project with high hopes of noting all these lasts, I realized some months ago that noting the lasts wouldn’t be possible. And that’s okay. Maybe more important than noting the last time Matt ranted about politics is noting that he did rant about politics. Maybe the most important point is ensuring G and H remember that passion.
In Post Hope, I think often of what G and H miss out on by not being exposed to Matt’s rants and our debates at the dinner table. I’ll ask about their days, but I don’t often (or ever, really) fill them in on current events, unless they heard something at school. Because sometimes the news is too sad to share and, though they’ve encountered the worst, I still want to protect them from the sharp edges of the real world. But, also, because in the time before—before GBM and the poliovirus and hydrocephalus—G and H just heard the discussions. They were engaged by virtue of being present at the dinner table. They interrupted to ask questions and we answered at (hopefully) age appropriate levels. Neither Matt nor I had to make a deliberate effort to engage them in current affairs.
One year ago today, Matt didn’t vote in a local election. One year ago today, I did because I wanted to set an example for G and H–because I knew that’s how we (the pre-GBM Matt and I) wanted to raise our kids. One year ago today, I was learning how to bear the weight of solo parenthood, figuring out how to instill our (Matt’s and mine) values on my own.
One year later, I don’t have it figured out. Most days I’d like a re-do so I could exercise that little bit of extra patience or broach that difficult conversation–about politics or otherwise. One year later, I’m still doing my best and hoping it’s enough.
I suspect, for all of us, it always is.