I’ve had it.

This political season is about to push me over the edge. I think a lot of you, based on conversations I’ve had, feel the same way.

Let’s get a few things straight.

I am a complex person. I believe in a certain set of values and ethics that I learned from my parents. My life is guided by this moral compass they so lovingly instilled. I am a product of my parents, grandparents, neighbors, teachers, church and friends. I found independence in college where I forged my own path, separate from these founding mothers and fathers, and began the evolution of my own, independent thought. There were hard lessons learned about friendship, business, the gray fog that lives between the stark contrasts of right and wrong, along the way as I married, moved and began a career. These people, experiences and situations all worked to forge the person I am today and my current city, neighborhood, friends, colleagues, children and present set of challenges provide me the opportunity to continue to evolve as a person and in my thought process.

You are a complex person. I can’t conceive of what has happened in your life, what events have shaped you, influenced you and otherwise created the uniqueness that is you. I just know that we are friends. We are two complex people with enough similar interests to be writing and then reading this same piece of html space in the world. I respect our differences, hope to learn from your set of experiences in the same way I hope I can share what I have gleaned through life and together we can form a crooked puzzle piece of our relationship to add to the picture of humanity.

The world is a complex place. There are difficult problems and very few straightforward answers. There are a myriad of circumstances that make any one solution work for me and not work for you, or vice versa. There are entities that want the best for us and entities that want the best for themselves. And it’s often difficult to figure out the difference, particularly when it comes to leadership where power can often blur vision and confuse priorities.

Now that we can all agree on the above set of complexities, let’s get down to brass tacks.

I identify with a particular political party. It’s on my voter registration. But, it does not define me nor does it define my vote.

Growing up, we watched the news during dinner. My parents openly discussed the news of the day in front of my sister and me. I did not necessarily know at the time which political party my parents identified with because it wasn’t how we talked “back then.” But I do remember my mom’s pride when Mondale chose Ferraro as a running mate and how excited, in turn, I was as an 8 year old girl that a woman was on the ticket. I remember waiting for President Reagan to arrive in our hometown and being so excited to see him. I remember my father’s outrage when my grandfather tried to get his goat by announcing he was going to vote for Perot.

And I remember each and every election day asking my parents who they voted for. And they never, not once, told me.

“It’s a personal decision,” my father would say. My sister and I would spend that meal trying to guess. Putting forth our arguments as to why we thought he would vote one way or she would vote the other and my dad would just sit back and smile. I imagine it probably amused him that we were having to think and articulate our positions in order to guess. At the end of the meal, however, that smile would simply be irritatingly enigmatic to my sister and me as we still had no certain idea who they had pulled the lever for.

Now, however, we seem to wear our political affiliations on our chests like we do our favorite team sweatshirts. Facebook has created a culture where not only can you share your opinion, but you can tell others they are wrong for having theirs. It’s often contentious, rarely productive, conversations that result. And this is on both sides.

I have no problem with someone posting an article about a particular election issue and offering their insight into why one side might have a better solution. Those posts, however, seem to be fewer and farther between the simply incendiary ones posted with little to know explanation other than “my guy is better than your guy” or the even better “how could anyone vote for *this* guy?”

I read one of these in my timeline today, hence this diatribe. Post something informative. Don’t tell me, show me. Make me take a step back to think on an issue and how it might affect someone other than myself because the fact of the matter is, I only walk in my own shoes and see things through my own eyes. Make me see something new.

Instead the tone is of superiority and condescension. It’s ugly and mean and I don’t need an acquaintance from college to insinuate I’m dumb for my beliefs because that’s insulting me and the village of people and experiences that formed me. And frankly, I may identify with a particular political party, but I do actually look at the totality of a candidate and decide who best matches my priorities.

Because I am more than a D or an R. I am a woman, a mom, a wife, a daughter, a worker, a Catholic, a helper, a friend, a neighbor and a citizen. And if you look at me differently once you know which side of the fence I tend to sit on, then that says more about you than me, doesn’t it?

The fact of the matter is we are all in this together. I have no doubt that both candidates truly have the best intentions for this nation at heart. You can’t malign their motives. Their plans, sure. But their morals and motivation? How could you possibly know? How could you possibly presume?

So, please, don’t presume you know me based on my voter registration.

I am a complex person.


Sophie’s Choice: Kid’s Saturday Scheduling Edition

I knew it was bound to happen, but I still wasn’t prepared for how to handle it. The 6 year old has been invited to a birthday party and has a soccer game at the exact same time. There is no way to do them both. We will have to choose. 

The husband’s initial reaction at the scheduling conflict was, “party.” The birthday party is for a close friend, would be fun for the whole family and will most certainly involve cake. 
I began to wonder if we let him pick the party, what are we teaching him about commitment to team? Are we insinuating that it’s okay to pick the fun thing over the obligation? Will this make it harder to get him to practice/Sunday school/anything he just doesn’t feel like doing? 
Are we making too big a deal about what it means to participate on a 6 year old soccer team? I mean, if we’re ever going to blow off a game for a fun thing, it would be now, right? And it’s not like we’re letting him skip to watch TV or play in the yard or because he doesn’t feel like it. It’s a special circumstance. 
And there will be cake. (I clearly have a problem with sweets lately). 
So, dear Internet friends, oh mothers of experience…am I overreacting? 

Rule of Threes

Three blind mice. Three little pigs. The three bears. Three strikes. The holy trinity. Threes have a strange ring to it. We seek them out in writing and speeches. Wikipedia defines the rule of three as: “writing principle that suggests that things that come in threes are inherently funnier, more satisfying, or more effective than other numbers of things.”

I have recently come to the realization that my life only has room for three major categories on a daily basis. Or at least that’s all my brain can handle. Two are unmovable items on my daily to-do list: the boys and work. The third thing is more flexible – redoing the boys’ bedrooms, planning for a recent trip to the beach, tackling the soon-to-be three year old’s birthday. 

Unfortunately, my life of threes has not seemed funny, satisfying or more effective. It feels limiting. It feels frustrating. It feels exhausting. (Notice the three. Felt good, right?). 

I want to constantly do more. Achieve more. Accomplish more. I can barely keep track of when which kid needs to wear what shirt to school for a field trip or spirit day and yet I expect I should be able to do more. There are few days when I don’t think about this space. And yet here this space sits neglected. Lonely. Empty. August 5th staring from the top of the page as a reminder of how far from number three it has become on the priority list of my life. 

So how can I be so exhausted at the end of each day and yet feel like I’m still not doing enough? My dear husband would tell you that my personal standards are too high. He’s probably right, to an extent. I see accomplished women that I admire seemingly doing it all. I have to remind myself that I don’t see the sausage being made. I don’t see the hours spent not sleeping or the help they may have or their own moments of frustration. Comparing myself to others doesn’t get me, or anyone else, anywhere. My bigger problem is comparing myself to the self I’d like to be in a perfect world of a 48 hour day, the need for only 4 hours of sleep a night and supersonic speed to slay through a to do list. 

The strange thing is that the other day, while stuck in carpool, I realized this personal rule of threes. This idea that I can handle kids, work and only one other major priority on a daily basis. And at that moment, it was freeing. Why try to pile on? Take each day and decide what that third thing will be and get it done. When it’s finished, whether that’s in two hours or two days or two weeks, figure out the next thing. I have to let the rest go, mentally, until I have the time to tackle them with the attention they deserve. 

That’s why, today, after getting the kids to bed, knocking out a few work tasks and settling into the couch with a box of two-bite brownies (damn you, Publix), I opened up my sadly neglected address on blogspot and filled up some space before my eyelids closed themselves. The birthday party planning, the desk reorganization, the laundry, can all wait for another day this week. 

Now that I recognize my personal rule of threes, I’m going to embrace it. Why fight to add a fourth thing that just won’t get done anyway? I need to start setting myself up for success instead of failure. 

It’s time to accept, assess and achieve. There’s that rhythm of three again. 

Now if I could only stop at three brownies.