Wednesday, November 16, 2016

A Woman in her Thirties Listens

Dear Anna,

This week you are six years old. Six! Ready to count 'em?

1.

2. 

3. 

4. 

5.

6. 


Six. Whole. Years. 

You now 'get' the world in a way that's rather astonishing to me, so instead of taking this post as an opportunity to tell you how great you are, (and believe me, YOU ARE), I'm going to get a little serious here. To do anything else at this point in time is silly, and when you look back on November, 2016 someday, you'll know exactly what I mean. 

*Warning: political thoughts forthcoming. Don't read if you don't want to. But if you don't want to, maybe that's precisely why you should. 

Anna, you have seen me pretty downcast this week. There have been many, many tears. I can only hope that you will read this one day, long after the forthcoming President's term(s) are over, and can tell me that I was overreacting, that all is well and fine. 

It doesn't feel that way now.  It feels the opposite of that. 

Someday, I will tell you how I see politics. I want to come up with the right combination of words, because words are of the utmost importance to me. My talk to you will involve a genuine belief that when we all do better, we all do better. That our wonderful country is flawed in many ways, and we cannot ignore them or pretend they don't bother us so therefore they don't exist. I will tell you that you are no better than the person next to you, and don't you forget it. I will tell you that when you cast a vote (indeed, when you make a purchase, when you post on social media, when you do pretty much anything in this world), you are making a values statement. You are saying, very clearly, what matters to you. 

Remember how I talked about how words are important to me? Guess what's more important. Values. And talking about values means nothing when you can't put your money/vote/actions behind it. 

I wish I could say I saw the results of this election coming. I didn't. I was shocked to my core, and remain so. I actually made a bet with your beloved Ye-Ye that Hillary would win, and I had already spent my $200. Ye-Ye was right again. Such is life, as your grandma would say. 

But more stinging than the loss of cash is the loss of identity. Because part of the sadness I'm coming to terms with this week is that I am, in my own way, to blame. I assumed Hillary was a shoo-in. I surrounded myself with people who shared my views or were too afraid of my contention to tell me theirs. I allowed the media to keep me totally hosed-- Donald Trump is a reality show clown, a joke. But he was not a joke. He was many things, but he was not that. He is the next President of the United States of America.

I did not listen. 

The fact of the matter is, some of the kindest, hardest working, most wonderful people I know voted for Donald Trump. You know them, too. The only thing that has made me feel remotely better over the last week is to listen to them, if they're willing to talk. I'm reading thoughtful articles from the other side, I'm more vigorously challenging the media (the media!). I'm silencing my own self-righteous echo chamber. There is reason to be frustrated with this current administration. There is reason to distrust Hillary Clinton. For some people, this election result is positive.

And yet, because you are now a big girl and need to hear this, it is devastating to me. Utterly and completely. Such is life.

Being a parent changes everything. You'll see someday, if you choose to have children. You see the world through their eyes. You'll consider their formative years, you'll judge your future decisions based on their interpretations of them. I'm scared for you, my sweet girl. More than that, I'm worried for the friends you're making in school who might not live as privileged a life as we do.

So my wish for you on your sixth birthday is that you will turn into a better listener than I have been. I wish that you will keep an open mind and heart, even when it's hard. This is very difficult for me now. Maybe it will be easy for you. 

I have hope it will be. I will never forget coming to your room in tears on the Wednesday after the election, and telling you that Hillary Clinton did not win. Your response was, 'Will she be okay?'. This is you, Anna. Always looking out for others. I assure, you, my lovely six year old, that Hillary Clinton will be fine. I can only wish that you will continue to be on the lookout and advocate for the ones who aren't. 

I love you,
Mom

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