Just the other day, we culminated our nearly year-long support of Hillary Clinton, by you sitting on my lap in a voting booth and helping me fill in the bubble below her name. My heart was beaming and my eyes were swelling with tears at the thought that I was voting for the first female president with my precocious, dream-filled, innocent baby girl on my lap. We went home to watch the coverage, ignorant that the vote could go anyway other than our own. I was going to remember this day forever. You were going to remember this day forever. Your “President Barbie” doll wouldn’t just be a mockery of women’s goals; it would be a reality in 2016.
But then it wasn’t.
By 9:30pm when the news correspondents began to look more and more perplexed, I knew it was time to put you to bed. I promised to wake you up if she won. My language had already transitioned: it was no longer when, it was if.
While you slept, I watched the news with a knot in my stomach for us. I spent two years in graduate school studying women’s history that was pack full of suffragettes and feminists and everyday women trying to make the world better. They were my historical heroes- the ones that recognized the sexist injustice of this country long before this presidential race turned sour. Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Gloria Steinem, Eleanor Roosevelt—recognizable names fighting for the unrecognized and dismissed sex. Like so many other moms, I saw Hillary as part of that long list who would be a modern day role model for you. Someone who fought for families, came out of a man’s shadow and broke that infinitely high glass ceiling. Finally.
But it didn’t happen.
Announcing to you that she didn’t win was eerily like breaking news of a death to you. You crawled deep into my lap with your head down and whispered, “I didn’t want him to win.” Words that so many others, young and old, gay and straight, black and Hispanic were all saying. You had determined rather early by your own accord that Donald Trump said “mean things” and “wasn’t nice.” Ordinarily, I’d try to lecture you that everyone has redeeming characteristics and not to jump to conclusions about people, even strangers, off of 30 second sound clips. But there was and is nothing ordinary about Donald Trump, The Politician. You were right. He wasn’t nice and he did say mean things. Your childhood naivety was actually very sound judgment.
But the problem with the results is not that he won, it’s that nearly half of the country thought that he was the better candidate or the “lesser of two evils.” It’s heartbreaking to explain to you that there are people near and far that undermine us as females, that look at people’s differences as morally wrong and that value hatred over acceptance. I want to raise you with the exact opposite set of beliefs, but I now feel like a dark world of division and contempt awaits you- threatening all the good that I will try to instill.
Do I sound dramatic? Perhaps. Do I sound pessimistic? Absolutely. But the fear that insolence, xenophobia, bigotry, sexism, homophobia and racism will trickle down from the top tier of The White House to our little corner of the world is now real. It’s already unfortunate enough that you grow up in a world where mass shootings occur daily and terrorist attacks cover our newspapers, but now we are under the leadership of someone that instigates violence and encourages prejudice.
As I push through the oddly personal heartbreak of this election, I want you to never give in. Never give in to bullies that ridicule your appearance, mock your dreams or try to intimidate you to be less than your very best. We live in a society where white men will always seemingly have a head start and an invisible advantage. Do not let this man, his campaign, his supporters or his victory take away the morals I have instilled in you or your innocent belief that good outshines evil.
I feel guilty that I set your little heart up for heartbreak, but proud that you saw a woman loosely grip the Oval Office. You will see a woman secure that grip and keep it one day, I promise. Hillary did not let us down, she lifted us up and gave little girls like you more motivation to push through hard times and negativity. The world was not ready for her, but I will try my hardest over the next four years to make sure that it is ready for you. I don’t know what this presidency means or how it will evolve, but if it’s anything like the campaign that earned its victory then here is my motherly advice to you: do the opposite. Be kind to all. Love everyone. Embrace differences. Don’t judge. Don’t exclude. Don’t stereotype. Don’t dismiss others. Don’t hate. Be good. Follow the golden rule. Be a girl that’s a threat, not one that is threatened.
I can’t control what happens in politics, but I can control how I raise you and your brother. As much as this election has crushed my faith in humanity, it will make me a better mother to ensure that you will always see positivity and progress. Two days later and my heart is still swollen with sadness, but like so many others, we should accept this and look towards the future. You, my sweet girl, are the future. Change it for the better. The next four years will not define us as females nor will Hillary’s loss. Button up your pantsuit and go dominate the world. We now know that at least half, if not more, of the country will support you. I know I always will.
Sometimes the villains win, kid. Temporarily of course. Sometimes Spiderman gets taken down. Sometimes Wonder Woman falls to the ground, but the movie always ends with good defeating bad. If it doesn’t then there’s always a sequel and in this case, it will premiere in 2020.
Better days are ahead.