Tuesday, November 6, 2012
I grew up in ultra-Conservative, Republican, Right-wing religious West Texas. My grandfather was a Methodist preacher. My mother was a teacher. My accountant dad wore cowboy boots, drove a truck and rooted for the Cowboys on Sundays. I love my parents. I had a good childhood.
My mother never made disparaging remarks about anyone, even if she vehemently disagreed with them. Instead, she taught my sister and I that it was okay to believe whatever we wanted, even if our beliefs were different from everyone else's. She told us that our opinions mattered and we believed her. My father backed her up. In our household, it was common knowledge that sometimes mommy voted differently than daddy and that was okay. We knew from an early age that they often disagreed politically but that it was their personal business and didn't affect the love they had for each other. But, my mother always spoke up to us when she thought it was necessary.
If a girl at my school said something racist to another kid, my mother told me why it was ridiculous and pointed out all of our family friends from different races. When I wanted to cut my hair off short with one long crazy 80s tail (a terrible idea), my mom took me to the salon and told me not to worry what the other kids thought. When parents at my community theatre didn't want us to travel overseas with our director because he was openly gay, my mother asked what I thought. I said I didn't think it was anyone's business who he loved and my mom agreed with me and stood beside me in that discussion. She encouraged me to think for myself and she never bended to the pressure of our conservative town. But she did so in a respectful way. I always knew what she thought and her viewpoints were often different from our neighbors but she managed to stay a contributing member of the community.
To this day, my mother serves on committees and participates in clubs in my home town. She goes to retired teacher luncheons and meetings all through election season, quietly but firmly strong in her beliefs even when surrounded by women talking about how much they love Ann Coulter or how much they dislike Michelle Obama. My mother doesn't agree with these women but she doesn't judge them either. (I would've quit my clubs years ago if I were her but I am nowhere near as much of a badass as my mother.)
So, today I go to the polls to cast my vote in a way many of my high school friends and the women back in my home town would disagree with. I do it with excitement and pride because my opinion counts. Even when it is different than everyone else's, my opinion counts. My opinion counts, even in Los Angeles, even in my neighborhood where everyone I know is voting the same way. My opinion counts. And so does yours.
Thank you, mom.
*My mom and I geeking out over a tiny unicorn, some time in the 80s.