I write this to you specifically, rather than you and your brother, because you are starting to understand the world around you in a way he doesn’t quite grasp yet. You will likely have memories that exist within these next 4 years. Or 8. Hopefully not 8.
I need to say I’m sorry. I’m sure by the time you read this you will have passed many hours in therapy trying to figure out where exactly I screwed you up. And I want to record this as the precise moment I began to fail you.
To cut myself a little slack, I do partially blame it on the election that happened in the USA 48 hours ago. An election between two inherently flawed people, one of whom is qualified, experienced, gracious, respectful, intelligent, diplomatic, and the other of whom is…. decidedly none of these things. And while I definitely don’t agree with probably 90% of his policies (this is pure emotional conjecture, I really have no clue what his policies are as he hasn’t really brought forward any kind of plan for government), if he was a normal human I would likely just suck it up and make jokes for the next 4-8 years the same way I did with Bush Jr. because we are Canadian and ultimately this affects our lives very little.
However he is not a normal. Not in the least. He is hateful. There are many other words that could and probably should be used to describe him, but this is the core of it. He is hateful.
How does this contribute to my incompetence as a parent?
I don’t feel equipped to handle this. It’s tough enough raising children in a world where bullying is lethal, where media is lethal. My mom had a hard enough time when all we had to worry about was the weird guy down the street. But now, as I struggle to form you into respectful, caring, kind humans who possess empathy and compassion for everyone, who give everyone the benefit of the doubt, who strive to improve the lives of others and contribute to their society in a meaningful way – as I’m struggling with all of these things this new obstacle has been thrown at me and has knocked me sideways.
Because how do I raise children to build a world full of all those things when our neighbouring country has decided it is acceptable to speak about women, minorities, the disabled, gays, …actually about pretty much anyone…in such hateful, hurtful ways? There is no empathy there. There is no love. There is no compassion. There is entitlement. There is intolerance. There is fear-mongering. There is ignorance. There is hatred. And half a country either agrees with it, or is complacent to it, and in my eyes those are equally destructive.
I can’t put into words how disheartening it is. How painful. And when my heart was so heavy I thought it would sink into my toes, it got worse. Because as I put you to bed and we were discussing your day, you told me some boys on the schoolyard had called you fat. When I asked what you said you told me you just smiled and walked away. You are five. You are perfect. And some kids who are at most 8 years old called you fat to shame you. And as much as that kills me, slays me, my mind goes to the kids who are not white, upper middle class kids living comfortably and how much worse they get it, and how that is apparently okay to half of America.
But I push on. I will always ask you how it makes you feel, and I will always ask you to remember that and strive to never make anyone else feel that way. In fact I will require it.
When HRC made her concession speech, she said the following, and it made me cry thinking of you and your future:
“And to all the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and to achieve your own dreams.”
I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m almost certain I will fail. So I’m sorry. But I promise you I will do my best. Because even though I’m not a little girl, I have a dream for one.