Tomorrow is Inauguration Day 2017. I wrote the passage below two nights post Election Day 2016 but it was never felt like the right time to post. Tonight though, it feels as if the world around me is bracing for impact. Even though we are all a bit more cynical than we were in November as we have had time to process reality. Still, it hurts all the same.
November 10, 2016-
I have shed many tears since Tuesday. The tears actually began flowing while watching the results roll in on election night. I went to sleep early that night because I could not bear to see the news casters declare the victor. I had asked my husband not to wake me if he stayed up long enough to see the results. Still, I was wide awake when he slowly crawled into bed trying not to disturb me. I could have asked him then who won the election but I knew. His quiet shadow said it all. I was awake for almost the rest of the night.
I grabbed my phone almost immediately after waking up the next morning. I hoped that I had read my husband’s body language wrong the night before. Unfortunately, this was not the case. The United States had a new President Elect and it was not who I thought it was going to be. Now, we were never avid supporters of either candidate but my husband and I knew that we clearly had two choices. One candidate had the experience and views that we could align ourselves with. Albeit we questioned several political and personal choices made by this candidate, but we accepted these questionable actions. The other candidate had publicly ridiculed almost every aspect of who my husband and I are as well as those that we love and respect:
- We are Mexican
- I am a woman
- My husband was born in Mexico and immigrated here as a child
- My father was born in Mexico and crossed the border in his teens
- I work with individuals with exceptional needs
- I have been harassed by men simply because they felt they could, but I always fought back
- I have close friends and family who are gay or lesbian
- We have close friends who are Muslim living in the United States
Although I was disappointed in the results that I saw on the screen of my phone, I immediately thought, “How am I going to explain this to J?” My husband and I had this very discussion during a drive home on Sunday before the election. I told him that my greatest concern about the upcoming Tuesday was that I may have to explain to our son that the new President Elect was going to be someone we did not respect. Though we both kind of shrugged it off as a nonissue being that there would be no way ever that this candidate could get elected in today’s society. Obviously we were wrong.
I let the kids watch cartoons that morning instead of my morning ritual, the Today show. I avoided every news media outlet the rest of the morning hoping that it would all simply go away. I did not want my son to hear the news from anyone other than us. So I let him be a kid that morning and simply talked to him about his favorite action hero, Captain America. After dropping J off at school, I continued to try to avoid any news of the results by going grocery shopping. But before I could get out of my car my phone blinked with a message about the concession speech being delivered live by HRC. I turned on the radio and listened to her message in the driver’s seat.
For someone who does not cry, I cried. I cried as if I was attending a wake. All I could do was cry. My heart hurt. I could see my daughter sleeping in her car seat through the rearview mirror and I cried for her as well. She was one of the millions of little girls that HRC was talking about in her speech. I could not change the world for her through my vote and that made me sad.
I worked in silence the remainder of the day until J and my husband returned home. We ate dinner as usual, the kids played for a bit afterwards, but my husband and I were just going in the motions of our nightly routine. We knew we had to speak to J but waited until right before bedtime.
My husband ended up taking the reigns and explained to J that DT won the election because I did not know how. For weeks J had heard me refer to DT as a “bad man” or a “bad guy” because he had cast all Mexicans into a deplorable group, he had bragged about verbally and physically taking advantage of women, belittled individuals with exceptional needs, and all but promised to send our soldiers to war once he became President. I did not know how to explain to our son that the bad man won without contradicting every lesson we have ever taught him about love, manners, respect, race, gender, empathy, and equality. Mostly, I did not know how to tell our son that the bad man would soon be his daddy’s new boss.
My husband was great. He kept everything simple and even drew a little visual for J during their talk. He left out the emotions that I could not seem to shake. He explained everything in terms that our three-year-old could understand and relate to. Still, the most difficult part of the conversation to watch was the pause and quick body tensing I saw J experience when his dad told him that DT would be his new boss. In that moment I could see J trying to figure out how his daddy had to take orders from a bad man. None of the action hero shows he has seen ever show the villain in command of the superhero. It was obvious in that moment J became nervous. The only thing I could think to tell him in that moment was that we loved him and we would protect him and his siblings from any harm. I do not know if this was enough to settle his fears but I was not prepared to give such a talk to someone so young. Their conversation ended with a long hug. Our son then went to bed with his Captain America pajamas and plastic shield like he always does.
January will come and go and our country will move on in the hands of a new president. Where I once praised our Commander-in-Chief so that our son would understand that his daddy worked hard under the order of a good man. I will now have to work to avoid filling my son with my own personal opinions about the next Commander-in-Chief . More importantly, I will work to protect my children from any potential harm, exposure to radical opinions and discriminatory practices.
I am the strongest woman I know. Though I was not ready yesterday, today I walk with my head high and my fists clenched. I may not wear a uniform like my husband but I have a family to protect. I will give everything I have to ensure our children are never scared for their own safety or wellbeing or that of their family or their daddy.