I woke up this morning, in a world that feels changed.
Yesterday was election day, and I was able to do something quite incredible, I was able to vote for a woman for the office of President.
It was a heady and exhilarating experience.
Adding to the gravity of what I was doing was the knowledge that I was also, effectively voting *against* a candidate that has come to represent, in my eyes at the very least, the seedier underbelly of America. The disgusting little primal demon that may exist in each of us that we choose to quash, every day. For me, that level of hate, of distrust, of fear and loathing of other people is really an alien concept...I guess you could say that I am (happily, proudly) hopelessly out of touch with my darker side.
Also making this election exceedingly significant to me is the fact that it is the first one that *both* of my children are obsessively aware of. As 8th and 9th graders, they are no longer "little kids". Though many of their peers are still in the "parroting their parents' beliefs" phase, mine have been going out of their way to learn about the candidates and ask questions. They have formed their own opinions and have a burgeoning understanding of exactly what is at stake.
As the results started to roll in last night, the tensions were increasing.
My youngest was panicky and getting increasingly frantic. Still young enough to revert a bit to "little kid" mode fairly effortlessly, she devolved into a series of "no, no, no" utterances...
My eldest watched with an increasing sense of disbelief and incredulity. The faintest tone of cynicism started to creep into his tone of voice...taking me as much by surprise as the recent changes to his voice, wrought by puberty had a few months back.
I sent us all to bed (minus Mr. Man because he is a big kid and his bed time is outside of my jurisdiction), holding fervently to the hope that with a good night's sleep, things would look better in the morning.
Such is the luxury of being the eternal optimist. It will all be alright, because it just *has* to be.
My alarm sounded at it's usual hour and I pretended to be woken by it, even though I was already mostly awake.
I grabbed my phone and refreshed Google.
She didn't win. Dammit.
I felt sick and sad and scared and outraged.
I wanted to shake my virtual fist and scream my moral outrage at the ugliness that had been wrought.
A quick visit to Facebook - bad idea. very, very, very BAD idea - showed me that others were well ahead of me. Some wallowing loudly from the depths of despair and hopelessness. Others readying the torches and pitchforks. And others gloating over their candidates victory over mine.
My finger hovered over the reaction bar as I scrolled through this mess of emotions and I found myself at a complete loss. I don't know how to react. Where is the reaction for "scared"? Which face means "confused" or "worried" or "in shock"?
And then the root of my confusion crystallized for me: What am I going to tell my kids? How the hell do I explain this to them? How do I send them to school this morning, where they will be surrounded by peers who are reveling in a victory that they likely don't fully understand...they rooted for their parents' candidate in the same way that a small child roots for their parents' alma mater...not because they have cultivated their own personal interest into that school but because it means something to their mom and dad...how do I send them to be surrounded by that with adequate protection over their raw feelings about a candidate for whom they made a very conscious and informed decision to support? How do I help them to assuage their fears for their friends and classmates?
I can't *fix* this for them. And I can't fix this for me.
All we can do now is hope. Hope that with this result, the ugly that has been unleashed and whipped up into a fervor will feel satisfied and vindicated...hope that it will roll up its sleeves and now do the work to actually make changes that will be *great*.
As the eternal optimist, I can't help but to scan the horizon for the best place to set up my lemonade stand...it's practically reflexive.
And so I send my children - and in fact, myself - out into the world today with this simple message to the victors - Congratulations on your candidate's victory. I sincerely hope and am counting on your judgment that he is the best candidate and that his presidency will be a great win for all of us. So let's stop fighting and tearing one another down and instead, start working together to do great things.