Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I survived voting

Yesterday was one of those days that you just have to look back upon and say, "oh well, I did my best. I performed my civic duty. My children are all happy and healthy and safe, and I am still alive and laughing."
It started out like any other fun-filled adventurous day that seems to happen at our house. It was made extra special in that daddy was home for the morning with no extra chores waiting for him. It was just me and him and the two youngest.
I got up; took the older two to school and drove back home to get breakfast on for those of us that hadn't eaten yet.
I had plans that morning for the two of us to go vote together before I went over to help a friend pack up her kitchen for her big move on Saturday. It didn't happen that way. Things moved much slower than my scheduled and planned time-table (as usually happens). I used to get flustered and angry; knowing what lay ahead if I ended up voting alone (as did happen).
I have learned (well, am still learning), that for the sake of my marriage and family's sanity that some things just have to move at a different time-table and I am capable of taking all the kids with me. The boys had fun too with just daddy relaxing, playing and wrestling at home.
I helped my friend empty her kitchen into awaiting boxes (a job I know well), then left to pick up the little boy I babysit in the afternoons and evenings and drove home.
All I can say is, THANK GOODNESS for Hot Chocolate, a good book and a fireplace with a whole hour to relax because the craziness started soon thereafter.
About 2:30 I woke up the preschooler and toddlers (all of which were not happy to be woken up) and drove off to pick up the older 2 at school. Did I say that I am SO GRATEFUL for DVD players in the car? I can take a screaming out of sorts toddler (or 4 year-old) and turn them into these cute little giggling and clapping children at the push of a button. The Play button that is. That and a bag of snack items for each of them allows me some sane time in the car.
I was planning to take Precious Jewel to ballet and then go vote, but she announced yesterday that she was officially done with ballet and since she'd gone back and forth for the last 3 months on whether she wanted to continue I said, "OK" and we drove to the voting booths instead.
About three-fourths of the way there I began to smell a rather stinky sort of smell. You know the one. The one where you know that you can say, "check" to diapers, wipes, snacks, drinks, blankets, and videos, but not to extra clothes. Ya just can't remember everything.
I pulled into the tiny little church that hosts every election for my particular precinct and sighed. I couldn't just blend in and hope no one would notice who I was. EVERYONE and their grandmother and next door neighbor knows who we are since Luke's parents won Farmer of the Year for the whole State of Arkansas last year. It's been a year of newspaper articles and photo-ops and magazine covers and such. There is no HOPE or PRAYER of anonymity. My pride as a mother was about to be run over.
We live in an area that is well, backwards and forwards. You might find the Postman in hunting overalls and no shirt and then turn around and run into a member of the famous Reality TV Duggar family at the local Walmart. Then in the same day, you can sit in a restaurant booth across from a multimillionaire exec. from Walmart. (Not all 3 had happened to me on the same day though). It's just a weird and fun place to live. Old culture meets new culture all the time.
Here I was arriving at the local polling booth with 5 bored kids, one now half-clad in a t-shirt and diaper with a sticky lolly pop all over his face. Did I mention it was cold? Not a good day to be touting around a half-clad toddler and still call yourself a good parent.
I walked in and sat him in a chair and ordered the others into adjacent chairs and then bribed Precious Jewel and Mr. Smiles with extra allowance money if they could keep the other 3 entertained and in their chairs. Half-clad Nater Mater wasn't too impressed with the chair or the toy I'd given him and promptly slid off to give his own go at a voting machine.
The dear ladies behind the table didn't even ask my name! They just pointed to the spot on the paper that was my name and smiled and told me to show my license and sign. I asked them how they knew that was me. The one sweet lady smiled and said that she's just seen our picture in the paper (again) and only had to ask for the license because she was supposed to. "I already knew who you were honey." Inward groan.
By that time, toddler 2 was off the chair and headed for the other electronic machine. I grabbed both. Re-deposited them in their respective chairs and told them again to "sit." They were like untrained puppies who promptly contorted and slid of their chairs to head back for the "pletty" (pretty) buttons.
I grabbed a paper ballot (that I could carry with me and try to wrestle them back to the corner with promises of candy if they stayed. "Give me 4 minutes guys. That' all I need. Four minutes!" Four minutes means nothing when you are 2 years old. Now they were climbing under the chairs with both Mr. Smiles and Precious Jewel grabbing at their ankles.
"Leave them! At least their contained under there!" I hissed loudly at the two of them. I rapidly fill out several ovals and look up to see 3 pairs of eyes watching my mother skills go their crazy best. I blushed and ducked back behind the partition begging God to help them forget that belonged to the family I did. Not that I don't love my husband's family. I do! But at this moment, this wasn't a side I really wanted everyone to see publicly. I'm a mom. I'm a mom of 4 younger children and an extra toddler every evenings. It often isn't pretty, but everyone is happy and it's who we are.
I finished filling out the last ovals and grabbed the hands of Nater who had just figured out that if his pants weren't on, he then had easy access to the diaper tabs. And as every mother of boys knows, they prefer to be naked! Who cares if they are in public. Slapping the tabs to the diaper back on I appologized and am sure was the color of the Maple leaves laughing at me through the window.
The redeeming moment was when the lady on the far left of the table directed my paper to the ballot box and then smiled and quietly whispered. "You're a great mom honey, and those kids are lucky to have you. I'm glad you didn't' let them stop you from voting."
I smiled in embarrasment, grabbed a tiny hand and scooped up the other half-dressed sticky child and herded everyone out the door. Thank God that was over! Anyone up for a movie when we get home while mommy crashes?!?!?! (We all ended up in the yard instead running through the leaves. Life in our home is NEVER boring!

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