On Monday, I talked to Rob about how I’d like to celebrate my birthday this year. Yesterday, I texted my mom:
“Rob and I just decided for sure that Maya, my friend Amity, and I are going to come stay with you for the inauguration!”
When I picked Maya up from school, I shared with her that, in a few months, we would be flying on a plane to DC to see Nana and Grandpa and to watch Hillary Clinton become president. We squealed with excitement. I pictured us riding the metro down to the mall, like we did last winter.
I could just see her on my shoulders with that puffy jacket, and maybe mittens or a hat with those long braided ropes hanging over her ears, her pink cheeks squinting up her eyes. I could see the sea of people who would surround us, hugging, bonding and celebrating.
This morning, my eyes still puffy from crying and lack of sleep, I told Maya the news. She said, “Mama, Donald Trump won because girls are smaller than boys.” My heart sank. It occurred to me that this probably wouldn’t be the last time that Trump’s presidency would cause her to question her self-worth. I said something very unrehearsed and unconvincing.
We had slept over at our friends’ house, having been up the whole night watching the results. Rob and I packed up the kids and left quietly early this morning, stunned and needing to move forward. We made breakfast and I cried a bit for my kids. I brought the kids to school and I cried for Latinos. I went to the dentist and cried because the tears needed to come out. I posted on facebook,
I have been a bit jolted. Not just by the news but by the way people have been reaching out to me. One person texted me with sarcasm last night, as if my favorite football was losing and I might, teasingly, need support. Others have reached out to offer sincere words to see how I’m doing or offer an olive branch or encourage me to unite with others.
Like we all are, I am still processing. But, for now, in case you really are concerned, here is how I’m doing:
I understand how this happened. And I agree that we need systemic change. I am not sad because Hillary lost. Though I will be glad the day we elect our first woman president, I’m not crying today because “this just wasn’t my team’s year.” I am sad that so many people in red parts of our country are hurting right now that they grabbed onto the idea that one person can save them from the injustices they are experiencing. I am sad that the message of hate and fear that Donald unapologetically ran his campaign on rang true with half of the country. And I am afraid that the platform of xenophobic and mysogynistic language will become widely acceptable. I do not believe that people are racist or sexist or classist. I believe that systems, actions, and words can be racist, sexist, and classist. And I believe that it takes a lot more than one person to unearth the roots of those racist, sexist, and classist words and actions. I am lucky. I will not feel the impact of this election as much as many people will but, though I hope it’s not the case, I fear that my gay friends, my Muslim friends, my Black friends, my Latino friends, and all women will be even more disenfranchised under a Trump presidency than they have by any other in recent history.
Thanks again for reaching out, friends. But you don’t need to send an olive branch. I am not angry of hateful. I am mourning for both the people who think they just elected a strong leader as well as for the people who he will step on to show his strength.
After the dentist, I went to buy a few little gifts for tonight. We are getting together with our dear friends, the Vohls, for dinner. Our friend, Nikki Vohl, passed away just 3 months ago. We miss her and I wish she were here to be outraged with us. She would know just what to say. Before yesterday happened, our plan for tonight was to have a belated celebration for Anabel’s birthday and an early celebration for Maya’s.
When I got home from the store, I felt drained, like I wanted to hide in bed for the rest of the day. Instead, I read Hillary’s concession speech and cried for all of our daughters.
Then, because we still have to work, I started prepping for my day tomorrow training teachers in Bastrop. I started feeling more energy come back to me. I started thinking about how lucky I am to have a job where I can impact teachers’ and students’ minds and hearts every day.
I started thinking about tonight’s bday celebration and how good it will feel to be together with friends and to talk together about what this news might mean for us all. I remembered that I don’t have a cake for us to sing and blow out candles. I remembered that blog I like to go to for healthy dessert recipes. I decided I’d make a pie for tonight. And as I was pressing all my frustrations into the date and sunflower seed crust, I started thinking about how we still need to eat. We don’t know where we are headed or where the next weeks, months, and years will lead, but we still need to eat.
Tomorrow? I don’t know. But tonight, we will take care of our basic needs. We will gather with loved ones. We will celebrate birthdays and we will eat. Everyone in the world today is processing this news. Whether it feels to you like the end of the world or a new beginning, we have work to do. Tomorrow we need to get up, get to work, eat well, and get a good night’s sleep. We must keep our minds and our bodies healthy for the work and the days ahead.