A Letter to My Kids on the Anniversary of the Trump Presidency

It’s been a full year since Donald Trump became president. A full year since he stood on the National Mall and swore to “faithfully execute the office of President of the United States,” just as Barack Obama had done eight years before. Attending President Obama’s inauguration was one of the most patriotic moments of my life. Instead of attending Trump’s inauguration, I joined with half a million other women in the next day to raise our voices in protest.

Photo of a white woman in a red and gold Wonder Woman shirt and black sweatshirt looking at the camera in a selfie.

Needless to say, I entered Trump’s administration ready to fight. In my Instagram photo from that day, I’m wearing my Wonder Woman shirt, my smirk and stance challenging the camera.

But despite my attitude, I was worried. In fact, I had been worried since I blearily read the results the morning after the election. I was worried for you and even moreso for the many families less privileged than ours. As we’ve seen since then, my worries about the treatment of immigrants, LGBT folks, black people, and poor families were justified. Everything has been as bad as we expected. In some cases, it’s been worse.

And yet.

Yet I’m surprisingly hopeful today. A year ago, I thought I would be filled with despair at this point. On some days, I am.

But so many days, I’ve found hope in the relationships, community, and stories of people around me.

White woman sitting with a young white child in lap, who is holding a hat over their face.

I’ve found hope in being your mama. Witnessing how conflict breaks your heart – how the grandmother being angry in Coco was scarier than the skeletons – makes mine just a little softer. Listening to you make up the most elaborate of worlds out of your head makes me smile (even when I wish you’d just wrap it up). Seeing your smiles as we tickle and hug pours love into my heart that the world too frequently drains.

Even starting to explain racism and reveal a bit of the shadows haunting our nation has helped bring light to my eyes. Seeing you pause your singing to listen to my (sometimes long-winded) explanations helps me see that you’re starting to care. Reading Sit-In, a picture book about the 1950s lunch counter protests, upon your request makes me feel like you’re connecting to those who fight for justice.

Photo from the back of a white child holding up a sign that says "I Love Trains" with other people on a sidewalk.

Connecting with others has reminded me over and over again that we’re not in this alone. Far from it. Bringing you to dance with other toddlers to raise money for immigrant families filled me with joy in the act of resistance. Learning from others how they grow their own food and heal their soil (and souls) reminded me that true sustainability lies in community. Most of all, walking with you in the People’s Climate March with so many other families opened my eyes to how many of us with children both care and act in response.

Reading the stories of people speaking out against our society’s ugly, broken systems has further opened my eyes and heart. The graphic, searing stories of #MeToo. The calling-out of racism by people of color, in everything from football players kneeling against police violence to bloggers speaking up about the toxicity of mommy groups. The communities rising up against fossil fuel development. The crowds of peaceful protestors rising against the sheer horror of neo-Nazis marching in the streets. Watching people lift their voices and demand to be heard compels me to listen and do what I can to support them.

At this time last year, I was afraid the political winds would sweep me off my feet, leaving me lost as a mom and activist.

But over this year, you – my loves – have kept me grounded. You’ve kept me focused on what’s important instead of me letting the bad news toss me this way and that.

Going into 2018 and the coming year, I promise you that I will focus on love, kindness and building community. I’ll sit with you on the floor, listen to your latest roller-coaster idea, tickle you on the couch, sing to you at bedtime, and read your favorite books out loud. I’ll keep having the hard conversations with you, talking about equality, justice, and how those are often denied to people. We’ll dive into these topics together, whether in discussions far past your bedtime or on the streets in a march. Once you’re in bed, I’ll keep listening to the stories of people different from me. I hope that by expanding my perspective, I can help you develop ones that are radically inclusive.

Together, we’ll burn brightly and beautifully as a family. We’ll shine like candles in the dark, stars in the sky, or a nightlight keeping away the monsters in a child’s room.

For more on maintaining hope in a tough political climate, check out What Elmo Can Teach Us About Dealing with Donald Trump. Be sure to follow us on Facebook

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