My website is finally back up and running fine with all the backend fixes complete. I apologize for the long delay in this post. I had a different draft ready to go, and then today happened and I suddenly found the right words that I think I had been waiting to write all along, I just didn’t know it.
For those of you who are hurting today, I hope you can hear my heart in this.
For those of you who disagreed with me, but kept coming back to read my stuff: I appreciate you more than you know. I hope you can hear my heart in this, too.
2016 was an unforgettable year. This was the year my son was born. An event that changed me in ways I never knew possible.
I am writing to you though about a different, unforgettable day of this year. I am writing to you, my future self, because there are some things that I never want you to forget.
2016 was also the year of a political election that gripped everyone for the entire year like no other, and it ended in a similar fashion.
Yesterday was Election Day.
The hubs and I, each woke with our own unmistakeable sense of panic and dread that the day’s results would not end the way we hoped. We didn’t speak it out loud, because at first we couldn’t even admit to it. Everything seemed too hopeful, too upbeat, too promising—while at the same time it felt kind of false because you knew there were plenty of holes in the basket you were counting on too, even though you truly believed they were holes you could still float well with.
So not wanting to jinx anything, he spent his day being pissed at the world and I spent mine consumed with mom guilt. You know, that inevitable sick mom shadow that sweeps over you and everything in your day to tell you just how bad you are doing at everything and how anything wrong with your life or your family’s life, or your kid’s life must obviously be all your fault.
Needless to say we were circling and dealing with our raw, unnamed emotions by entirely missing the point.
By the end of the day when the results started to shock the world with the political upset of the century as some would later call it, everything suddenly came into focus. We looked at each other and both realized this is the real reason we had been dancing in our own circles all day long. Suddenly that pain and that anger and that fear of every unknown was suddenly sitting in our laps like an unwrapped gift. Or like a ticking time bomb that finally went off.
Instead of sitting there dancing around it wondering what was inside or when it would explode, now it was just there staring at us and leaving us to pick up the pieces.
The fear of the unknown loomed largest. For a military family whose lives are often impacted by presidential decisions and executive orders more than the average citizen and certainly by any global conflict this country is currently involved with or becomes involved with in the future–well just considering that in the context of being led by a president who openly built his campaign around being divisive, antagonistic, and unapologetically nationalist puts a dark kind of fear inside you.
No one in our circles wants more conflict, requiring more time and more sacrifice than our families are already giving. The unknowns that this new administration’s vague, one-liner policies hint of has caused us to question a future that we spend our daily lives trying to never picture. For our friends within this circle, but with options to look at choices beyond military life now or in the near future this may seem to be much less of a concern. However, when your family is looking at a required commitment for at least the next ten years, your feelings churn like nausea as you suddenly find yourself wondering if now you are suddenly trapped; while at the same time you feel ashamed to admit it because it feels like a betrayal to your deep love for your community and the life that this career involves.
Questions haunt you like: will this mean more war? More deployments? More risk? More alienation from a civilian society who identifies less and less with our real, daily lives and the hardships we face? What about his cavalier commentary on nuclear weapons? What about his commentary and policy stances on NATO and our military bases overseas whose jobs are filled by your own friends? What about our diplomatic relationships around the world? What about his unusual fascination with Putin and the implications of Russia’s involvement with our election? What about his bragging like it was no big deal to avoid paying federal income tax–the very source of your livelihood when you sign up to serve this country?
The questions scream at you with no answers.
National security and foreign policy don’t feel like some big, theoretical ideas anymore when suddenly all you can picture is how they might change your life forever.
On one hand you tell yourself it could all end up being nothing to worry about and maybe it was all big talk to draw certain kinds of voters, because to consider the alternative frightens you with how it might mean our lives will never look the same.
We just don't know. And that kind of uncertainty threatens to eat you alive. Click To Tweet
And that’s just one part.
We also sat there questioning what does this say about our country that the greater majority want this kind of man to lead us?
What do we say to our son and future children about the campaign he ran, about the people he hurt, about the messages he sent around the world?
If I could attempt to put any more of my feelings into actual words today, this is what I want you to remember.
Today was important. The fears and emotions we felt were valid, but this day is not the end. Click To Tweet
This day taught us to remember the universal truth found in resurrection–it only comes after pain and death.
It’s not the falling down that matters. That only makes us human. Its how we rise that truly counts.
This day taught us that loud mean bullies sometimes win the day and that our response to his win is where the hard choices begin.
The far more complex truth is that, that loud mean bully is a human being too. To make it even more complicated, he is a person who is now taking an office that dad signed up to respect, serve under, defend, and protect—and so even though we may disagree with his words or actions, our family supports dad and his service and it’s higher calling to this country and its leaders—no buts, no ifs, full stop.
This day has taught us perhaps more than ever before, how important it is to us and for our children to value and respect all people regardless of their sex, race, religion, origins, sexual orientation, life experiences, or opinions. There are a lot of scared and hurting people today. We are not the only ones by far.
None of this is easy.
This day taught us more than many that life is uncertain and even when we work hard, love hard, fight hard, and believe hard it still sometimes won’t go the way we want it to.
This day taught us that listening to people whom we disagree with is still vitally important. Click To Tweet
Our pain and fear screams at us to blame, to hate, to close ourselves off, to shield ourselves from this blinding uncertainty; but this day calls to us to dig deeper and find a greater purpose and a greater hope.
This day hurt because it felt like all those people that our new president felt were worth insulting, forgetting, targeting, trivializing, antagonizing, climbing over, and leaving behind in order to win…ourselves included, means our worst fears have been cemented into place.
Those same emotions whisper painful despair like, “not only did he think we all didn’t matter, but so does the majority of our country too.”
Again, our pain screams at us to take a wide blaming paint brush and scapegoat everyone among the great majority supporting him and his party as all the same. Today however, my friends and family kept me humble because they showed me over and over so many times that they are not.
This doesn’t mean though, that we have to deny the truth. There are some loud, sexist, racist, hateful, divisive voices in his camp—but no matter how many times I have to gulp and swallow my own wounded pride to admit it, they are not the only ones. There are hurting people who found hope in him despite his faults too, and even though I want to say my pain matters more–I know in the end that compassion must start with me.
This day challenges me yet again, to go high no matter how low I feel like going. Click To Tweet
Please take our dear children’s faces into your hands every day and help them learn that these are the kind of days when character matters the most.
It’s not when you win.
It’s not when life is perfect.
It’s not when everything goes as planned.
Its not with the people who make loving them and respecting them and understanding them easy.
Character is formed in the moments and with the people that offer you anything but easy choices. Life gives you the greatest opportunities to learn the most of what kind of person you truly are when it throws everything at you that you didn’t see coming.
Today we have the choice to decide if we are going to stay scared and hurting and become bitter, or if we can move on with grace and courage.
We will still have to speak truth.
We will have to take on the important work of holding space for everyone around us who felt left behind and marginalized too. We will have to show that it is important to stand up for the forgotten, for the misunderstood, for those society deems less than.
We will have to keep having these hard conversations and show our children that they are worth having over and over, whether its on racism, sexism, or any other difficult issue this election highlighted. We also now have to take on the incredibly hard work of finding common ground with those we find ourselves across the aisle from in our everyday life.
Perhaps no one said it better than today’s loser. I will never forget her.
I count my blessings every day that I am an American. And I still believe, as deeply as I ever have, that if we stand together and work together, with respect for our differences, strength in our convictions, and love for this nation -– our best days are still ahead of us. ~ Hillary Clinton