Fired Up, Ready to Go: First Family, My Family
I just have to stop looking at the election night photographs.
Have you seen these?
Or have you looked at these?
inspired me to do this:
we accept certain obligations to one another
This election and every election since I was first able to vote in 1976 have engaged me. Many years have passed with feeling I have no place at the national table. I am too unpolished, undereducated and not well placed. Though Jonathan and I have done hours of service in our lives for candidates and causes, it has not been until President Obama’s campaign and years in office that I feel there is representation in the Oval Office that has anything close to my life experience.
Could it be I was born in Evanston, Illinois and somehow, those years in the Chicago area link me to the Obama family?
Or is it that I have a newly minted United States citizen in my life, Ella Rose, who shares things with the Obamas that I will never share, for instance her skin color or lineage? Here she is in my sister, her adoptive mama, Elsa’s arms with Judge Shelley Gaylord in Madison, Wisconsin.
Or is it Michelle? The rock star “first Mom” who, if we knew each other I’d be picking her girls up from soccer and we’d be gardening together in the schools.
Or is it that this family, who looks something like my family with an athletic lawyer daddy, a multi-dimensional mommy and two kids who look like they spend a bit of time away from televisions and doing cool stuff every day, this family seems to operate as an energized source of real time vitality in a world that is so formal and divided from real life. I think this may be what has rocked my world today.
In November four years ago, our daughter, Catherine, invited her entire class of 25 kids to celebrate her birthday by creating a mural of welcome for the newly elected President Obama. The kids filled their sections with wishes for him and his daughters, ideas for his presidency like stamping out plastic bags and getting a family dog. The mural was so full of innocent urgency for what they felt was important to them at that time, the environment, pets and friends. We rolled the mural up and mailed it to the White House. By Christmas, Catherine had a signed photo of the President on the wall in her room. No personal note as she’d hoped for nor a picture of Sasha and Malia looking at the mural, but she understood the arrival of the form letter thank you. It was her first message that people in the political arena may appear to be in her immediate world, but operate in a sphere we can hardly imagine.
So, I pour over the photos from last night, enjoying how the Vice President is so energetically physical in his contact with the President, communicating to us how they must spar over issues great and small, with some kindness and humor and integrity.
Or I look at the Election night video and see how Malia pointed out a section of the audience to her dad, the newly re-elected leader of our nation, and urged him to turn around to face another cheering mass of joyful humanity.
I see people who are living in a world that is filled with relationships, where families are valued and cherished and where the ideals of our nation are headed up by the word ‘LOVE’. Have you ever heard an elected official mention ‘love’ in any way other than the fist pumped “I love the United States” victory cry- President Obama said this:
“What makes America exceptional are the bonds that hold together the most diverse nation on earth. The belief that our destiny is shared; that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another and to future generations. The freedom which so many Americans have fought for and died for come with responsibilities as well as rights. And among those are love and charity and duty and patriotism. That’s what makes America great.”
Right now snow is flying past my window. My husband is napping off 4 days spent in Ohio assisting the Board of Elections in Cuyahoga County. His experiences will filter in to all of us, the energy of his adventure folding in to our family legacy of standing for our values, no matter what.
Yesterday our 18 year old voted for the first time in his life. Catherine, and his best friend and I were there to see him navigate the swarm of people at the Great Barrington Fire Station. When we first arrived at the voting place, the boys commented with glee “there’s trucks!”. What better way for these kids to enter the world of citizenry, in a building with much loved fire trucks where neighbors were using their hard worn right to vote in an election for a person to lead our nation.
And, that leader, when chosen, celebrates his victory with grace, arms around his family, voicing gratitude to all who helped him to this place in history and urging us each to work with him. I have tears of joy for the opportunity this Presidency lays open for our children, who see this path of leadership as attainable and important and who feel included in the composition that is our democracy.
Thanks to Bruce and Jay-Z and Katy Perry for rocking us in to the election. In the Berkshires, James and Kim Taylor were working the polls, making calls and handing out treats to the workers with their two boys.
And, all of us, for whom celebrity is something we pour over on Huffington Post and MSNBC to see, today we feel a parting of the veil between celebrity and real life as Barack and Michelle invite us each to do our part and participate with them in creating our more perfect Union.
Now I can get to work.
Heavy snow now.