“I don’t want to move to Canada” my 8 year old daughter, Sage, said through streaming tears after I informed her that Trump had “won” the election.
“Honey, listen we are not moving to Canada. I shouldn’t have told you that.” I took in a deep breath, sighed, and continued on. “I thought this would never happen. It’s kinda like when I told you there was a Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny. It’s something I said that wasn’t true. I thought it was cute and would make you feel good. I’m sorry.”
“What about my friends in school? Their parents said they’re moving to Canada too. I don’t want them to go.”
“I think those parents were just like me. They just didn’t think this would happen.”
Then I did it again, I lied to my daughter.
“There is nothing to worry about.”
For the past year, Trump has been that “mean man” in our house. He’s the one who’s sexist, homophobic and xenophobic rhetoric was totally unacceptable behavior for anyone; let alone the presidency. But, like many folks we know, we didn’t take it too seriously because Hillary Rodham Clinton was going to be our “First Women President.” We were ready to celebrate that victory with the majority of Americans that voted.
I called for Sage and my oldest daughter, Skye, to come close to me and said, “we have to keep moving and not let this set us back,” with the straightest face I could muster. I sent my two girls off to school as if it was any other day.
After they left, I found myself standing in my living room in a daze. I stumbled over to our laundry area and attempted to make a dent in the disheveled pile of clothes until my emotions took over and I began to bawl. My husband, Gerald, heard my outburst and came to comfort me. I leaned over on his chest and began asking questions that were really directed to the universe.
“How am I really suppose to raise these girls? Am I supposed to tell them that if they work really hard, study, and are prepared, then they can have any job they want as long as a rich white man doesn’t want it? Isn’t that all this is? Any rich white man is more qualified or more trustworthy than any woman. I mean all the bullshit Trump said!”
Gerald gave me a once over, looked down at his watch and knew he was going to be late to work. We sat down on the couch and he tried to console me the best he could before he had to leave.
The rest of the day was a haze. I couldn’t do any work. Anytime, I saw a women with puffy eyes or looked as disoriented as I felt, I would go up and hug her. I hugged at least 6 strangers that day, some in the market when I was picking up food for dinner, others in parking lots, or even a neighbor walking her dogs. The shock was our bond. We all felt like we somehow found our way into the twilight zone where no rules applied to men and blatant sexist and racist behavior is acceptable for our country’s leader.
A couple days later, Skye turned and asked “Can I have a sleep over at Lacy’s house and then go to a protest in the morning with her and her mom?” as she poured her cereal.
“Sure, Honey” I replied and motioned for her to pass the milk.
I wished I could have gone with her, but I had an art show that day and couldn’t possibly be a no show for my own event. And Gerald was out of town.
I quickly called my husband to tell him what I had just approved.
“I would feel more comfortable if you were with her” he said.
“I know, but you know I can’t go. “
“OK” he finally said, not hiding the reluctance in his voice. So I began “momsplaining,” hoping it would wash away any guilt I was feeling for not being with her. “Listen it is clear to me that this is a new day. Our daughter is now like a kid of the 60’s. This is going to be the first of many protest for her. Some we will be at. Some we won’t.”
Later that afternoon, when Skye came home beaming after participating in the largest Anti-Trump protest in Los Angeles, I felt so proud of her. She showed me the sign she marched with. She had so many stories and talked about the power she felt from “being a part of the people.” That night Skye placed her sign at her headboard.
Sage had been playing with her action figures, as she usually does, but I noticed she created a world I have never seen her create before. I snapped a picture of it.
Oh, how I wish the election results were different, but there is comfort in knowing that my daughters will forever be changed. From now on my family won’t take government officials for granted. We’ll be active participants in our democracy and strive for equal rights and respect for all. The most valuable lesson I learned from this election is that I love this country and will never leave it because I know we are stronger together.
Thank you, Hillary Rodham Clinton for all your service to this country. I hope you know I will forever be #stillwithher.