An apology and a pledge to my daughter after the election

November 14, 2016

I have spent the last week in a daze. My emotions spinning like a lazy Susan at a diner overloaded with mismatched condiments. Fear, anger, sadness, revulsion, confusion, hope, then back full circle to fear. I am not sure how this happened, and it most certainly doesn’t feel real, but every time I turn on my laptop or the TV I am reminded that it most certainly is. I  woke up on Tuesday morning smiling and energized, which for a mom who hasn’t slept through the night in over two years is really saying something. It was election day and your Dad and I were taking you to the polls with us because I wanted you to see your mama vote for the first female president in history. But truth be told, it was so much more than that. This election felt like a true battle between good and evil, right and wrong. The delineation between the two candidates was so stark, so black and white that is was almost impossible to see it any other way. I’m not religious but it felt almost biblical. I wanted you to bear witness to your mother and many other Americans standing up for what was right and good in this world. We arrived at the polling place to find lines of people waiting. In all the years I have been voting there, I have never seen lines like this. I took it as a good sign. We waited in line for our ballots while you squirmed in my arms like the wiggle worm you are. To distract you I asked you what we were doing. You proudly said “voting!”. I asked you who we were voting for and you said “Hillary Clinton!” with the enthusiasm only a shining toddler possesses. Then I asked you who is going to win? You said “bananas!”. I had stashed a banana in my bag to eat because I didn’t have time for breakfast before we left, and you were far more interested in that than the ballot. I gave you the banana, and you and your Dad went off to look at the swimming pool outside the gymnasium. Your Dad and I then swapped so he could vote, and you and I went outside to play on the grass and watch the swimmers. It was warm, it was happy, it was somehow calm despite the throngs of people. I felt certain. Certain that the glass ceiling above our heads that had been spiderwebbed by the many women who had flung themselves against it would come raining down on us in a million beautiful crystals. I was so sure that good would prevail on this day. How could it not?  I went home that evening, tucked you into bed, and settled in with some dinner, CNN and some tissues for the inevitable tears that would fall when the results were in. Tears of joy I thought. As the night wore on I started to feel very sick to my stomach. Your Dad called (he was on his way home) and asked me if I could believe what was going on. Still, I felt sure. I agreed it was crazy and unexpected, but Hillary would pull ahead in the end, no doubt about it. A couple of hours later my hope was dwindling and my stomach was churning. I turned the TV off. My body was protesting with waves of nausea and cramping. By midnight I had come down with a full-blown stomach flu. Maybe a virus, or maybe some subterranean fury bubbling up looking to seep out of any crack or crevice it could find. My cells were in a full on revolt.  I couldn’t sleep that night. While I am no stranger to middle of the night worry, it has never taken this particular shape before. I was scared for you my daughter, that you are a girl, that you are  a minority. I worried about your reproductive rights, and what a Trump presidency meant for the planet you will inherit. I even worried about the insane fact that a racist, xenophobic, homophobic, islamaphobic, misogynist with impulse control issues now had the nuclear codes. Overnight our world was so different and felt SO much darker. It has taken me days to process this, and I am nowhere near done, but I have come to a realization. I owe you an apology. WE, all Americans, and especially women owe you an apology. We didn’t do enough. We didn’t show up with the force that was needed. Some of us didn’t show up at all. We collectively as a society created Trump with our fear, our greed, our neglect. We failed to see it happening in real time, but in retrospect we all saw it coming. This is a reckoning. We didn’t do enough. I showed up to vote, taking for granted the fact that my fellow Americans moral compass was aligned with my own. Aligned with the values this nation was supposedly founded on. I was lazy, complacent because I was sure we had it in the bag. I was sure good would triumph over evil. And make no mistake, his agenda (if not the man) is evil. For those Trump supporters who are angered by these words and who claim they are not racist or misogynistic or xenophobic, you cannot absolve yourself of responsibility when you elect such a man to the highest level of office and therefore power in this country. You colluded. You accepted. You condoned, if only by your silence. He was the lightning rod and you gathered around him like storm clouds threatening damage. You are responsible. And so am I. For not fighting harder. Canvassing, cold calling, going door to door. Whatever it was going to take to make sure this man never made it this far. That is on me. For this my beautiful girl, I apologize from the bottom of my heart. This is not the world I want for you. However, as Einstein says, you cannot solve a problem with the energy that created it. So here is my pledge to you. I will not devolve into hate and anger, though the temptation is strong. This will not heal our world or our broken political system. We will not fight this fire with fire. We will fight it with water. They exclude, we include. They contract, we expand. They shout with hatred, we sing with love. They build walls, we tear them down. Our beloved first lady said it best, they go low we go high. I can do more, and I will. This has only served to galvanize my commitment to making this the world I know it can be. The world I want you to live in. I have had my state representatives email in my contact list for years, I have used it only once. What good is living in a democracy if we don’t exercise our democratic rights, or better yet our duties? I pledge to you to speak up when it’s needed. To no longer remain silent about the things that mean the most because I assume someone else will fight that battle for me. It’s time to be a grown up, and to advocate for what is true and good and right. And here is the good news my sweet pumpkin, Hillary won the popular vote. By a significant amount. What this means is that the world is actually good. That an antiquated political system messed it up for everyone, but in actual reality on Nov 6 good did win out over evil. More people voted against Trump’s hateful rhetoric then for it. Them’s the facts. I spent so much of this week wondering if this was the end of goodness, kindness and fairness. It is not. The numbers keep growing and showing that we are still good. We are still kind. We are still fair. At least more of us are than aren’t. We are blessed to live in a country of possibility and freedom. Freedom to speak out and speak up. We will give Trump a chance to lead with integrity,and if he does not we will hold his feet to the fire because this is our home. I can’t explain why this happened, but I am beginning to see the good in it. Today was the first day in a week that my stomach has truly settled and I can eat more than just ginger tea and overcooked rice noodles. My appetite is returning, and my desire to partake in the nourishment on offer is growing. When I asked you who would win that morning and you said bananas!, I thought you wanted a snack. I didn’t realize you were being prescient. Bananas indeed. All that’s left to do now is link hands and hearts, turn our collars up against the cold and march on towards the dawn because it will come. It always comes. xo

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  • Reply Hannah Arista November 15, 2016 at 12:52 am

    This is so beautiful Mama Plum. So well written and so well said. I feel EXACTLY the same and agree with your every single word. Thank you for articulating what I’ve been going through so well. After so much crying I have felt completely numb for the past few days and reading your post made me feel again. What happened was such a shocking wake up call that I need to do more. I pledge with you, for your Little Plum and for our country and for the world. If you have any ideas of concrete steps of what we can all do please do post about it! I’ve been doing research because I feel a bit lost on the correct and most effective ways to donate my time & money and I would love to hear your input.

    Sending love & hugs to you and LP & DP and to the rest of your family! xoxo

    • Reply PlumJoyful November 15, 2016 at 5:42 pm

      Thank you Hannah! I’m so happy it resonated, I too feel a bit lost on the most effective ways to donate my time and energies, but as I figure it out I will definitely do a post.Sending much love and hugs to you too!!! xo

  • Reply Vanesta P November 15, 2016 at 7:05 am

    Sydney that was awesome and powerful. You wrote this to your daughter but I feel in my heart and believe that this is the perfect message for every little or big girl, African American, Hispanic, Asian, Bahamian, Jamaican, Haitian and the list goes on. Thank you!

    Peace and Love

    • Reply PlumJoyful November 15, 2016 at 5:38 pm

      Thank you Vanesta! Peace an love to you!!! xo

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