The girls went back to school this week. Wednesday, they woke quickly, one even before her alarm. The energy of getting ready to leave was familiar, welcome even, but it also crackled with anxiety. We took turns asking questions and spontaneously saying, “I love you.” Still, we’d agreed as a family to give it a go, and the girls were ready. Avery is a freshman this year, and Briar was excited to have her at the high school. They walked in together, masks on, and plans to manage what the day might bring.
We had about 45 minutes to burn before it was time to drop Finley at the middle school. We drove to a nearby coffee shop and ordered drinks and breakfast. We sat together outside.
“Are you nervous?” I asked her.
She giggled and moved her legs, “I have caterpillars. I mean butterflies. Ha! I have like super-strong butterflies.”
I looked at her face and tried to read it. She was joyous and nervous. Her hair has grown, and her face has changed. The leggings and graphic tees of last year are gone. She is lovely.
She caught me studying her face. I laughed, “I have them too!” She turned inward, and I let her. We each drifted off on thoughts of our own until she said, “We better go. I don’t want to be late.”
We waited outside the school as she walked in, and I snapped a picture. “You ok, mama?” Sean asked softly.
“No. But it’s ok, she is.”
Sean and I drove home without talking much. We walked into the house, and the dogs greeted us with barks. The cats circled our legs. We settled into our office in the dining room—the animals following at our heels.
“Feels weird without them here,” Sean said.
It did feel weird—six months of being in the house together, over like that. I struggled to concentrate. My mind wasn’t going to where they were or what they were doing. It was going to tomorrow, November, and next year. Parenting has taught me a hundred times over that there are things out of my control, but somehow my spirit or stubbornness keeps that fact from sticking. I was thinking about the future and how little I can control. More than ever, it will be perspective and determination that influence our lives.
These last few weeks have been loaded with anticipation—school, COVID, lobbying for a puppy, planning my campaign, discussing the November election. The girls look to one another for ideas and opinions, sometimes leaning into one another’s perspective, other times forming their own slightly different take on something. It is glorious to watch, and it’s pushing me to make sure that I create the space for identities outside of being my daughter or being their mom.
The decision to run for Queensbury Town Board was one that we made as a family. I’ve been in the position as an appointee since the end of June. We installed a landline, and everyone knows that if it rings, it’s time to be serious, “Hello, this is the Magee residence. How may I help you?” The girls came up with the script on their own and used it every call. Sometimes it’s telemarketers, but they treat them each as if they were a constituent with a concern.
I didn’t know what to expect of the position, so I operated as I would with family or work, taking my time to listen and assess. Stepping up to the responsibilities has been easy. I have felt the potential of having an impact and after years of finding my voice, this feels like a logical next step. Campaigning? That’s something else.
I’ll confess that knocking on doors is intimidating. I want to be good enough, I want to have the right answers, I want them to support me. It emphatically presses my insecurity buttons. Then, of course, there is a competitive side. I don’t want to lose.
A few nights ago we ventured out to knock on doors. I had a stack of palm cards, Finley pedaled a bike with a wagon attached, inside she’d assembled about 20 signs. We spent about 2 hours walking through the neighborhood. I would knock or ring the bell and then step back. I was wearing a mask, beneath it I smiled. Some people didn’t answer the door, others said no to a sign. Then there were the people who wanted to talk. I spent 20 minutes with 4 different houses—listening, explaining, commiserating, and laughing. Through it all, FIn and Sean were with me. Avery and Briar want to come next time. We are all moving through our fears and excitement bravely.
The other night we received word of 2 confirmed COVID cases at the elementary school. My competitors’ signs are popping up throughout my ward. There are pitches to do for work and more neighborhoods to canvas. The girls are starting an Etsy shop. It is a time of uncertainty, but also new beginnings.
Thank you for being with me all these years, and for caring about the girls. What are you up to? Have you seen this about voting from my friend Asha Dornfest? Are you interested in helping people vote? You can find out more about my campaign here. I have shirts, pins, and yard signs if you are interested please let me know. I’ll post the Etsy shop when it’s live.