This is my favorite picture of my parents – it was taken shortly after their engagement in 1963 – and is a perfect depiction of a young couple, living in America, at that time.
Except, they weren’t American citizens.
My parents immigrated during the Hungarian Revolution in 1956 and met for the first time here, in New Jersey, on a blind date.
They carried green cards, worked whatever jobs they could get and learned to speak English by listening to radio commercials and watching television show, like and Gunsmoke and Bonanza.
Except, they were more like:
They did, eventually, take their oath of citizenship, were pardoned by the Hungarian government and allowed to go back in 1966.
But, by that time, my father’s mother passed away and both my parents will tell you that it just no longer seemed like home. Having lived through one of the darkest periods in their lives, and having tasted freedom, it was hard to look back.
Instead, they focused on the future and raising their children in their adoptive homeland, without ever losing respect for their heritage.
It wasn’t easy.
History hasn’t been kind to their generation – ask anyone over the age of 60 and they’ll tell you – wars were fought, right in the middle of the streets, and growing up in suburbia back in the 60s and 70s meant that anyone with an accent, or different-colored skin, was suspect.
I would like to think that times have changed.
Unfortunately, my children (and perhaps, your children) come home from school with stories of how their friends think anything other kids wear, see, say or do, that is different, is weird.
Thankfully, I’m good with weird.
What’s really strange is that my husband Garth (not his real name) and I come from very different backgrounds — he’s a little bit New England and I’m more, you know, old world — and yet, when it comes to raising our children, it can make for an interesting mix and it’s sort of nice that we can STILL agree on so many things.
Garth (not his real name) is more conservative, where as I tend to lean toward the… well, yes, but he… she… it… oh, and they also have a very good point, there, too… side of the political arena.
I guess it doesn’t help to have kids running around the house – really, can’t they just STOP – you see, I’ve grown quite used to living… well… in a state of confusion.
Did I mention we live in Jersey?
Anyway, navigating through all the rhetoric can get tiresome and listening to my father trying to explain his political views to his grandchildren is pretty much like being forced to run a marathon, backwards.
“Aaaand, that’s why Papa doesn’t vote!”
Take a parent, add politics and mix.
“Who are you voting for, Momma?”
[sound of crickets chirping]
This presidential election year is very, very confusing for me (I know, act surprised anyway, okay) but, I realize that politics is (and always has been) nasty business – seriously, I’m sick and tired of watching both sides of the aisle rip each other a new one – and I guess that’s why I usually don’t blog (or, write) about anything, you know, political.
“I haven’t really made up my mind, who I’m voting for, yet.”
Besides, there are plenty of other moms who do (blog about politics, I mean) and these women are way smarter at expressing themselves, politically, than I am.
“Well, my class voted for Obama!”
My 12-year-old’s 7th grade class held a mock election, this week.
Apparently, so did my 7-year-old’s 2nd grade class.
“Mine, too…but, I’m for McCain!”
Um… my 9-year-old son’s allegiance lies with his father – understandable, since they are out-numbered by the women in our house, 2 to 4 – but, after learning that one of his best buddies also voted for Obama, my husband did reprimand him for calling the kid a “bloodsucker!”
“Uh…well…I sort like both their stuff.”
My oldest (she’s turning 15, this month) is stuck on the proverbial fence, just like her mother, bless her independent little heart.
“Your mother and I are voting for Obama and what do you think about that!?!”
Aaaand, that’s pretty much when I slammed on the mental breaks, was struck dumb by my father’s latest revelation and nearly choked on my mother’s chicken soup!
See what I mean?
“We have lived in this country for over 50 years.”
“We worry about you guys.”
“And, the future of our grandchildren.”
“Besides, you were right.”
[eyes go wide]
“Really, which time?”
“Last week, when you yelled at me and said people who choose NOT to vote have no right to complain about this country.”
“It’s time for a change.”
“I’m very proud of you.”
My father stopped watching CNN long enough to confirm that I really was, you know, still talking to him.
“I think it’s ‘cause you’re voting for Obama.”
My son beat me to the punch, again, but it’s more than just about my parents’ political views.
“And she is your daughter, you know?”
It’s the fact that, for the first time in their lives, both my parents put into place the promise that they made only, like, half a century ago. To support (and defend) the constitution of the United States, by going to the polls and exercising their right to vote for the next President of The United States of America – good, or bad.
“I still think you should vote for John McCain!”
[eyes go wide]
“Seeing as he’s your age and all…but, even if you vote for Obama…I still love you, Papa!”
Very, very proud, indeed.