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Parenting in a New Political World

On the eve of the highly anticipated inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States, I’m glued to the televised pomp and circumstances like I was a couple weeks ago for the Golden Globes. Only this event isn’t entertainment, it’s real life.  These two worlds of fantasy and reality have collided and a billionaire businessman/realty television star with no political experience is about to become our commander in chief. No matter what the outcome of this ugly, contested election, half of the voting population was predicted to be up in arms and protest the results.

I have struggled to write this post-election blog because I didn’t quite know how to express my feelings.  I’m glad I waited to process my thoughts. In the days leading up to and after the election, I refused to get caught up in the spew of hatred, negativity, and filth in social media. I’m no angel, but words like “misogynist” and “xenophobic” were posted so many times on Facebook that I’m afraid spelling bees and ACTS will sink to a new level with this kind of commonplace vocabulary. This country is great because we have a platform to speak our minds and share our views, but the constant bombardment of anger, bigotry, and ignorance is out of control from both sides. Instead, I choose to focus on my family and encourage open conversations about our different opinions. I’m trying to be a better listener.

I remember the moment when I found out Trump won. It was one of those frozen moments in time, like “Where were you when you found out the Space Challenger exploded?” at least for my generation. The analogy isn’t perfect, but I’ll give it a try. Just as all eyes, young and old, schoolchildren and adults, watched in awe as the first citizen astronaut soared into space, similarly, in this election, young girls (and their moms) and a new generation of voters rallied together and were ready to celebrate Hillary Clinton as the first woman leader of the free world. And then something went terribly wrong (or right, depending on how you voted) and our country went up in smoke. Many of us were in total shock, unable to fully comprehend what happened.

So, here’s what I remember on the night of November 8 2016. I was proofreading my daughter’s British Lit paper with a red pen, halfway listening in the background to the voice of Wolf Blitzer tallying votes on TV. I knew it would be a tight race, but as more states were shaded a sea of red on the electoral map, I decided to call it a night and hoped for the best in the morning. It was well after midnight when I awoke to the ping of my cell phone on my nightstand. It was my 21-year-old son, who the day before was excited to vote in his first election, and now was freaking out because 1) the stock market is crashing, 2) climate change is destroying our planet, 3) our education system is a failure, and 4) we’re all doomed.

I realized then and there that it was my job as a parent to be the calm in the storm and find something positive, hopeful in any situation. My goal was to reinforce that this is how democracy works, sometimes it goes our way, sometimes it doesn’t. We will be okay, either way. Another lesson learned–just because my husband and I voted for different candidates for legitimate reasons, doesn’t mean we don’t get along. We’re free to make our own choices, and we’re still together as a family. We respect each other because after all, we want what’s best for our family and our country, even if we disagree on how to get there. To me, the positive outcome of this election is that we all must be active, educated citizens and do what we can, now more than ever. One president cannot make or break our country; it takes all of us on an individual and grassroots level to make a difference, and find a way to get involved. The days of armchair activism are over. Enough talk; lets get to work as good role models for our children. This election year was a wakeup call, like the blast of the shofar on Rosh Hashanah, this is our signal to do our part.  We can attend or organize a rally, collect signatures for a petition, stock canned goods in a food pantry, follow reliable news sources (such as The New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, and local NPR stations), clean up litter in a neighborhood park, learn about Planned Parenthood, make a meal for a homeless shelter, call our local and state representatives, donate books and read to a classroom in an under-privileged school, be kinder to each other, get out of our bubble, and reach out to whatever cause, charity, or organization resonates with us and our community.

Many kids are scared about the future, rightfully so, depending on how aware they are of political issues, how directly they are impacted, and what kind of attitudes and actions they witness from their parents, peers, and politicians.

As a mom, I don’t want to preach hatred. Tomorrow morning, when Trump places his hand on Lincoln’s bible (and his family bible) and takes the 35-word oath of office, I hope it can be a new beginning for our country and we can work together. I hope we can learn from our differences. Change is never an easy journey.

Eight years ago, I was glued to the TV as Barack Obama was sworn in as the first African American president. It was an exciting time, and I admired Mom-in -Chief Michelle Obama in her J Crew dress and continue to respect how she and her husband raise their daughters. In fact, I was inspired to write about the Obama First Family in 2009 and 2013.

Tomorrow, on a drizzly Friday morning, the world will witness another peaceful transfer of power, only this time after a long, bitter battle. This 2017 inauguration is unprecedented, and so will the rest of Trump’s time in office. As hundreds of thousands of women arrive on buses to march in Washington DC, as well as around the country this weekend, we see democracy in action. They are rallying to show unity in the fight for the rights of women and other marginalized groups. At the same time, pro marijuana advocates are camped out to distribute 4,200 hand-rolled joints at 8 a.m. on the west side of Dupont Circle before they walk to the National Mall. They are there to educate and promote the legalization of cannabis. And a LGBT dance party has already rocked the residence of future Vice President Mike Pence. Yes, democracy is in full force.

A successful president means a successful America, so I’m rooting for Trump to listen to the people and do the right thing to support our democracy. I’m also waiting for him to say something quotable, but until then, I will end with these inspirational words from Obama, including:

“Democracy is a living, breathing thing, and it’s up to every generation to do their part to defend democracy.”

‘This is where I learned that change only happens when ordinary people get involved and they get engaged, and they come together to demand it.”

“For all our outward differences, we all share the same proud title: Citizen. Ultimately, that’s what our democracy demands. It needs you. Not just when there’s an election, not just when your own narrow interest is at stake, but over the full span of a lifetime. If you’re tired of arguing with strangers on the Internet, try talking with one of them in real life. If something needs fixing, then lace up your shoes and do some organizing. If you’re disappointed by your elected officials, grab a clipboard, get some signatures, and run for office yourself. Show up. Dive in. Stay at it.”

“This generation coming up — unselfish, altruistic, creative, patriotic — I’ve seen you in every corner of the country. You believe in a fair, just, inclusive America; you know that constant change has been America’s hallmark, something not to fear but to embrace, and you are willing to carry this hard work of democracy forward. You’ll soon outnumber any of us, and I believe as a result that the future is in good hands.

 “I believe we can have a much bigger impact in our world not as an elected official but as an involved citizen.” 

“I think that (my daughters) have, in part through osmosis, in part through dinnertime conversations, appreciated the fact that this is a big, complicated country, and democracy is messy and it doesn’t always work exactly the way you might want, it doesn’t guarantee certain outcomes.  But if you’re engaged and you’re involved, then there are a lot more good people than bad in this country, and there’s a core decency to this country, and that they got to be a part of lifting that up.”

Whether you want to get involved in women’s rights (which is the same as human rights) or climate change or education reform or whatever speaks to you, here’s some organizations that allow you to be an active participant in protecting and promoting democracy. How are you making a difference, defending women’s rights, human rights, civil rights?





Momentum Missouri Moving Forward









Meanwhile, if you need a good chuckle, remember these favorite Joe Biden memes HERE and HERE!

God bless America.