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In good hands: my gratitude for 'Grandpa Gary and Grammy' Herbert

First lady Jeanette Herbert and Carmen Rasmusen Herbert's son, Beckham, on election night at the governor's mansion in Salt Lake City.
First lady Jeanette Herbert and Carmen Rasmusen Herbert's son, Beckham, on election night at the governor's mansion in Salt Lake City.
Carmen Rasmusen Herbert

Tuesday night we got ready to drive up to the governor’s mansion to watch the results of the local and national elections as they came in. About 30 minutes before we were supposed to leave, my 3-year-old announced he didn’t feel well. He had been very un-Briggs like all day, so this didn’t surprise me very much, but then suddenly he looked at me and said, “I feel like I’m going to barf.”

I quickly grabbed his hand and we ran to the bathroom. He almost made it, but, of course, every kid knows you only score points if you barf on the way to the bathroom — not in the actual bathroom itself. Two steps before the door it all came out. And our poor puppy happened to be standing beneath him at the time, so what didn’t splatter all over the hallway floor landed on top of our dog’s head.

My son began crying from the bathroom. My other sons ran to see what all the excitement was about. I quickly grabbed the dog, put him outside, and attempted to clean up while my little boy leaned over the sink, quietly saying, “this is such a total bummer,” over and over again.

It was a total bummer. I changed my clothes, threw on some pajamas while I worked, and turned on the bath for my son. Meanwhile, my husband came home a little later than usual. He walked in to mayhem and, on a night like that one, it was just bad timing to have sick kids and meltdowns.

We were able to get the younger kids in bed, apologize profusely to the sitter for leaving her with a sickie (who was totally back to normal as soon as he tossed his cookies) and then head up to Salt Lake. (I also changed, somewhat reluctantly, out of my jammies.)

We arrived to a big supportive crowd full of friends and family, all there in support of my father-in-law, Gary Herbert, who was re-elected as governor. We laughed, mingled and celebrated a great night for the Herberts. I became very reflective, thinking about how much my in-laws have meant to me, and the wonderful leaders and examples they are to this great state. I am, and always will be, proud to be a Herbert.

The crazy events leading up to this moment seemed a lifetime away, and as tough as it was to try and get everything worked out to make the drive to Salt Lake City (including washing the barf out of my dog’s hair) to support my family, I was so glad I did. The conversations I had and the love I felt for my in-laws was something I will never forget.

After things began settling down, my 6-year-old walked groggily up to me.

“Mom, when is it going to be done? I want to go home.”

My mother-in-law heard him and sat down on a chair upstairs in the mansion ballroom and pulled her little grandchild onto her lap.

“Oh, I don’t want him to wrinkle your dress,” I began, but she quickly shook her head.

“It’s fine. Besides, it gives me a reason to sit and rest my aching feet!”

She held my son and stroked his head and within minutes he was sleeping peacefully on her chest. Something about that moment hit me hard. My father-in-law has frequently talked about striving to make Utah a better place for his grandchildren, and despite the ups and downs and worries and concerns about our nation and the outcome of the election, I felt a sense of peace and calm on election night. I also felt extremely grateful knowing my son’s grandparents — the governor and first lady — have almost as much love for this great state and the people in it as they do for their own family.

Looking around and seeing so many people smiling and joyfully congratulating “Grandpa Gary and Grammy” gave me hope for my boys’ future. I truly believe, with them, we are in good hands.

Carmen Rasmusen Herbert is a former "American Idol" contestant who writes about entertainment and family for the Deseret News. Her email is carmen.r.herbert@gmail.com.