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Sharing an Historic Election as a Family

In Family on November 8, 2016 at 7:56 pm

little-one-voting-2016

This election cycle has been daunting (to say the least).  For the first time ever, our kids were heavily involved, more by osmosis than by choice.  The 24/7 news cycle, combined with two polarizing candidates, has made our home something of a political hotbed over the past year or so.  You can probably imagine how weary my kids have grown of this seemingly never-ending election, since most grown-ups are totally burnt out at this point.

My choice for this election was the most difficult one that I’ve ever made, and it would be an understatement to say that I took the scenic route to get here.

Early on, I thought that one particular candidate would have been the best for the country because he was the least divisive of all.  I was putting country ahead of personal beliefs in that circumstance.  Once it became clear that his campaign wasn’t gaining any traction, I shifted to the candidate that resonated with me the most.  Once his campaign came to an end, I flirted with the idea of voting third party since I’m not in a swing state, but that idea was short-lived.  Although I favor a system that goes beyond two parties, I found myself at the crossroads of the two major party candidates.

Early on in the process, I had decided that one candidate was never going to get my vote, and I’ve stuck with that decision for over a year.  That left me with the bitter pill of voting against someone, rather than voting for someone.

What I’ve learned throughout this process is that every vote cast for either major party candidate meant being able to forgive something.  Perfection simply doesn’t exist, nor does near-perfection for that matter.

Over the past few months, as people have dug in, I’ve seen that the news of the day wasn’t really moving the needle for decided voters, only for the undecided ones.  Those on the left would react strongly to news from the right and vice versa.  This has only added to the divide in the country, and has made this election must more vitriolic than any other in my lifetime.  I was dug in, but more against one candidate than in favor of another.

I was prepared to use my vote to try and stop the candidate that I would never want to see in the Oval Office.  But, over time, I started to do more research on my own, and stopped buying into the perception created by the media and those on social media.  Once I put my pre-conceived notions to rest, I was able to open my mind to the possibility of enthusiastically supporting one candidate over the other.

Everyone has a core belief system, a set of values that transcends any candidate.  For most of this election cycle, my views aligned mostly with the candidate that I chose.  This wasn’t a gut feeling.  I answered every question that I could on www.isidewith.com on more than one occasion, and the results always came up with two candidates above all others, but only one of them is in this election.

Like most people, my wife and I have lived through our fair share of trials and tribulations.  Thankfully, we’ve always been there for each other, regardless of the situation.  We’ve grown together over the past 25 years together, and though we come from different religious backgrounds, we have instilled a strong belief system in our children.  It’s a belief system built upon not just a tolerance for the way that others live, but a full acceptance of it.

As I mentioned above, no candidate is perfect, but there is one that goes against everything that we believe.  When I opened my mind, I started to realize that the candidate that I voted for, though not without faults, has a very similar belief system to my wife and me.  We agree on most issues, issues that go beyond candidate personalities, issues that are important to us.

I can’t fault anyone for their choice, because I haven’t walked a mile in their shoes.  I don’t know everyone’s most important issues, or for the most part, their core belief system.  While I may not agree with choosing a particular candidate, it’s not my place to tell someone that they’re wrong.  That being said, I have witnessed some terrible behavior from a handful of people, and that has forever changed my opinion of them.

If you look at the picture on this post, you will see me voting with my little girl.  Surprisingly, she has shown a stronger interest in this election than my son who is four years older than her.  I’m proud to say that the values that we’ve instilled in her have come through in our discussions with her about this election.

Ever since I became a parent, my focus has been on doing what’s best for my children.  Every decision that my wife and I have made during those years has been with my children in mind, often times at personal sacrifice, but that’s part of being a parent.

The journey to this moment has been long and arduous.  There has been a great deal of handwringing throughout this election process, but regardless of what happens tonight, I’m at peace with my decision.

I’ve been an independent all my life, but so much of what has happened in the last year has made me commit to a party for the first time since I turned 18.  Making this decision is probably more difficult on my children than it is for me.  It’s not easy being in the vast minority when you’re in school dealing with other kids who have strong beliefs based on parental influence.  My son has already dealt with a classmate judging him for not being in lockstep with most of the community.

Tonight, my wife and I brought the kids with us to vote.  My daughter helped me fill out my ballot, and my son helped my wife.  Hopefully by tomorrow, we will be on the side of history as Hillary Clinton is elected as the first woman president of the United States.  Even if that doesn’t happen, we will still have shared an historic moment together, provided that Chuck Schumer is re-elected to the Senate (which is a virtual lock).  It has already been decided that he will become the first Jewish Senate Majority or Senate Minority leader.

My hope is that, regardless of what happens tonight, we can move towards becoming one nation again (although I realize that it will be very difficult).  I’ve done all that I can do to make the best decision for my family and me.

Based on what I’ve seen on Facebook, a number of friends were going to disagree with whichever candidate I voted for.  I would not want to go through this process again, but the one silver lining in doing so is that it gave me the opportunity to get comfortable with voting for a candidate that I believe in, rather than voting against the candidate that I don’t.  It’s a much better feeling to enthusiastically support someone (at least it is for me).

I purposely haven’t openly supported Hillary on Facebook because I didn’t want to deal with the inevitable back and forth from Trump supporters.  Now that my vote has already been cast, there is no longer a reason to debate the choice.  I’ve made my decision, and I’m at peace with it.  I wish the same for everyone else.

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Baseball Dads Book Review

In Book Reviews on May 21, 2016 at 11:21 am

baseball dads cover

By Adam Waldman

If you’re a parent, it’s highly likely that you’ve spent countless hours watching your kids participate in sports.  It’s also a virtual lock that you’ve experienced coaches who made your stomach turn with their ineptitude and/or nepotism.  If you’ve been a coach yourself, you know how it feels to deal with “participation trophy” parents who place selfish desires to see their kid in the spotlight over the greater good of the team and experiencing real competition.  Political correctness, and fear of embarrassing your child, makes it very unlikely that you ever do anything about your dissatisfaction besides complain to your inner circle of friends.  Do you ever wonder what it would be like to share your inner-circle thoughts with the masses, take meaningful action and let the chips fall where they may?  If so, Matthew S. Hiley’s Baseball Dads is a must-read!

It’s been nearly a decade since the country was captivated by Tony Soprano and his take-no-shit crew of New Jersey gangsters that you couldn’t help but root for, despite the fact that they lived on the wrong side of the law.  Who among us, when watching The Sopranos, never fantasized about dishing out our own brand of justice (if only it were legal)?  Most people never reach the breaking point that pushes them to vigilante justice, but in the darkest depths of your mind, the thoughts certainly exist, even if they are never acted upon.

In Baseball Dads, Dwyane Devero evolves from a hard-working, loving father who struggles to make ends meet and do right by his family, into a Tony Soprano-esque superhero that leads a crew of equally disenchanted baseball dads to mete out their own brand of justice.  Devero’s challenge lies in leading a crew that faces an unexpected transition into a life that they have no real skills to handle with any degree of expertise.  It is the main character’s undeniable charisma and feeling of invincibility that acts as the glue that holds this group of flawed men together.

From massive drug use to wildly inappropriate sexual escapades and cringe-worthy blunt talk loaded with foul language, you can’t help but follow along with anticipation to see how the story unfolds.  This book is not for the faint of heart or the uptight, but if you were a fan of The Sopranos, you will find Baseball Dads to be a thoroughly entertaining read that will make you laugh out loud, while simultaneously shaking your head in disbelief.

By tapping into a subject that is so familiar to every parent that has ever watched their kid play sports, Matthew S. Hiley brilliantly develops these characters in such a way that you feel like you can be one of them.  There is no doubt that Baseball Dads would make an excellent movie in the future, and if it hits the theaters, I’ll be there on opening night.

Click here to read the first three chapters of the book for free, and then click the button to order your own copy.  You will not be disappointed!

What If?

In Family, Life, Life Lessons on October 9, 2014 at 8:47 am

What If

“What if?” is a question that my mom tortured herself with since my dad passed away in 2001.  The passage of time never diminished her need to know what would have happened if we had done something different, something more extreme in the hopes of an unlikely miracle.

Wondering “what if?” reached its peak each year during our family’s “hell week,” which happens every July.  It begins with the anniversary of my dad’s accident and ends with the anniversary of his passing.  That is always a difficult week, but there used to be a reprieve that lasted until his birthday in March, when we all can’t help but wonder once again…“what if?”

Today marks the final day in another “hell week” for my family.  Today I find myself asking “what if?” on the first anniversary of my mom’s untimely passing.

What if she had taken the test that she feared taking earlier?  Would she still have had the complications that she had from her surgery, which led to more surgery, which led to her ultimately passing away and leaving us all in shock once again?

What if she was able to reach me earlier on the day of her test?  Would I have been able to travel to the hospital quickly enough to give her a hug and kiss and tell her that I loved her before her surgery?

What if the doctor’s appointment that sent her rushing for emergency tests was after her birthday weekend, instead of the Friday before?  What if we didn’t “celebrate” her birthday praying for her to wake up at her bedside?  What if we had the chance to have one last birthday celebration by going out to dinner together (which was one of her favorite things in life)?

What if she got to read the heartfelt, handmade birthday cards that my kids made for her instead of having me read them to her as I said my last goodbye because I knew that the end was near?

What if my daughter could have given her the card that she made for her for this birthday, even though she knew that there was no place to send it?  What if my son could have called my mom to share his excitement about the home run that he hit on her birthday with the bat that she gave him for his birthday?

What if, instead of having two “hell weeks” each year from now on, our family didn’t have any?  What if my dad got to meet the amazing kids that my mom used to look to the sky and tell him about?  What if my mom got to see the kids that she adored grow up, graduate high school and college, get married and have kids of their own?

What if life was fair?  I guess I’ll never know…

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