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How to Go On

2016 November 15
by Becky

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Last Tuesday morning I awoke with hope. I snuggled with the boys in bed, answering Ethan’s questions about how elections work, listening to how excited he was. After weeks of asking me, “Is Hillary our president yet?” I was finally going to give him answer.

I took the kids (clad in their “Boys will be boys good humans” shirts) to school, ran on the treadmill, took a shower…all things to keep me busy while the voting lines died down. By 10:30am I couldn’t take it anymore, I didn’t care if I waited for an hour, I had to vote. It had to be over. I walked the one block to my polling station and breezed through the line-less doors, waving at neighbors and smiling at poll workers. When I looked at the ballot I was overcome. I was simultaneously embarrassed and proud of the tears threatening the corners of my eyes. Just seeing her name filled my heart, I was elated to cast my vote for someone I know has worked her whole life to prepare for this job, someone I would be proud to have representing our country, someone who just happens to be a woman. I wore my “I Voted” sticker with pride, planning to keep it forever as a reminder of that incredible day. I stayed busy until pick up time and ended up driving the kids straight back to the polling station, Ethan wanted to see how everything worked and needed a sticker. We got home and built a nest in the living room to watch the news and play with toys. Ethan asked “What happens if Donald Trump wins? He wants to start wars.” I promised everything would be ok.

This pretty much sums up the night.

The next morning I hadn’t slept. My face was red and wet. My chest was tight. I no doubt sported a look of on that I could not control. I heard Ethan rustling in his room and I sat up straighter, dried my swollen eyes. Tried to put on a positive expression. He burst through our door and asked, “Who is our new president??!” Making an effort to smile, I cheerily-as-possible said, “Donald Trump”. His shoulders dropped, he crawled on the bed, and curled up in a ball. He cried while I scratched his back, told him it was ok, we’d be ok, our government has checks and balances to make sure the president is fair. I said anything I could think of to comfort him.

My heart was shattered.

Since then things have been grey. The cold weather is welcome after weeks of record breaking heat waves. I indulge in big sweaters and scarves, almost like armor to shield me from what the day might bring. After all my hope Tuesday morning, Tuesday night was like a nightmare, one from which I still cannot wake. I’ve avoided the news, deleted the Facebook app from my phone, have rarely turned on NPR—one of my favorite things in the world. I’ve unplugged in hopes it will stop me from crying, stop me from thinking the worst of our country. Stop me from seeing what’s happening outside my bubble of progressive, diverse, accepting friends, neighbors, and our wonderful school. The hate that’s running rampant throughout the nation is terrifying.

So I’m here, along with 47.8% of the country, grieving. Going through the stages of grief. Right now I’m jumping back and forth between denial and depression—anger rears it’s head from time to time but is squashed when I remember anger is what got us into this mess. Anger about the last eight years under a black president, the angry mob saying it’s “payback time”. Anger is empowering disgusting white supremacists to accost citizens with black or brown skin, telling them to “go home”. Pulling hijabs off women’s heads, telling them their “time is up” in America. Students chanting “build the wall” at their Latino classmates.

Watching things like this helps me deal with the pain a little.

And reading incredible things like this letter from Leslie Knope (Amy Pohler). It’s uplifting. Grab a tissue.

And though acceptance is the obvious last stage of grief, like Leslie, I downright refuse. I refuse to let women be treated as brainless sex symbols instead of a smart, worthy human beings. I refuse to see my friends and neighbors and complete strangers discriminated against for their religion or the color of their skin. I refuse to let my children see or hear any hateful, divisive words from our president elect. I refuse to EVER let my boys think they are better than anyone else due to their ethnicity and gender. And I ABSOLUTELY refuse to apologize for my opinion and my refusing all this other stuff.

So now not only do we say goodbye to one of the most inspiring, dynamic, and, truly extraordinary leaders in our history, but we get to sit back and watch hate and anger hurt the real progress gained in the last eight years. I will miss the Obamas so terribly much. I was so moved every time they spoke and proud to have them as the best kind of role models for my kids.

Only I won’t sit back. I’m going to do what I can to make my voice heard. Starting with the Million Woman March in DC, taking place the day after the inauguration. I won’t stop talking about how I feel, won’t stop talking to my kids about equality and honesty. And you can bet I’ll be volunteering to help campaign for the next election. And let’s not forget to mention to the very few yet poignant victories during this election season for some inspiration. Like the election of Catherine Crotez, the first Latina US Senator; California electing the first black woman in two decades, Kamala Harris, to the US Senate. Ilhan Omar who became our first Somali-American legislator and Iraq War veteran Tammy Duckworth who became the second woman Senator for Illinois.

Ok so I’m going to be outspoken, going to be worried about our future, and am going to shed a whole lot more tears over this situation we’re in…but I don’t want Trump to fail. I really don’t, because it fails our country. When Obama won, Republicans wished, hoped, and prayed for failure, they wanted him to burn our country to the ground to prove their point. I will never say that, it’s unproductive and immature. While I don’t want Trump to succeed in his plans to defund Planned Parenthood, abolish the Affordable Care Act, ban Muslims from the US, and implement Stop and Frisk in our cities, I still don’t want him to fail as a president. And since he has been known to change his mind in the span of a sentence, I’m betting will figure out pretty quick he shouldn’t do some of the things he promised. I hope, by some miracle, he pulls this off. Hope he calls all those experts he promised he knew to come help him out so he succeeds. So our country succeeds.

And if he screwed up just enough to lose re-election in four years, that would be stupendous. 

I leave you with a joke. That’s right, after all this I’m going to tell you a joke, because it’s one Ethan made up. He was inspired after Halloween, where, in St. Louis, all kids tell jokes before their their candy. When he told me this particular simple, little joke I had to hold back tears, not only because of the clear six year old concept hidden inside it, but because of the sweet delivery, his eyes telling me he knew exactly how I’d react. He says he tells it to himself every night before bed so he’ll have good dreams.

Here goes:

“Why did Hillary Clinton cross the road? To get to the White House.”

Want to join me in DC? Plan now because hotels are tough to find and flights are in short supply. What are you going to do about this outcome? 

3 Responses leave one →
  1. Ria permalink
    November 15, 2016

    I loved reading this. Thank you. Also, Ethan is an amazing kid.

  2. Linda Johnson permalink
    November 16, 2016

    Well said Becky!

  3. Ana permalink
    November 16, 2016

    It’s a long shot – but we the people should be able to have our choices heard and accepted. (Also, great blog)
    https://www.change.org/p/electoral-college-electors-electoral-college-make-hillary-clinton-president-on-december-19?recruiter=628778138&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink

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