Well, the inauguration is over. It finally happened. Some of you are jumping for joy and yelling "Praise the Lord!" Some of you are cowering in your basements, recounting your hoarded canned goods because surely this is Armageddon. But I would bet that a lot of you are like me: nervous, agitated, frustrated, emotional, all rolled into one exhausted ball. I feel like I've been living with a weight on me since November 8th. A weight of "What's going to happen?" Well, now we'll find out. Now we'll finally start our four years with Donald J. Trump. Now we'll see if he's all lies and smoke and mirrors or if he's going to do the things he promised (and threatened).
I wasn't against everything he promised. I was on board with "Drain the swamp." Unfortunately, I don't see that happening at all, if anything he's expanding the swamp. I loved getting rid of pay to play. But when we've got completely unqualified people like Betsy DeVos up for Secretary of Education and Linda McMahon picked to be the Small Business Administrator, I realize that he's full of absolute shit since both of these women have given millions to Trump. (It is believed that DeVos has given around $200 million.) I'm all for term limits. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE. I would love to see some term limits. I'd love to see our representatives actually worry about serving their constituents wants and needs rather than worry about their re-election.
With all of this said, you'd have to be new around here to think I didn't vote for Hillary, though. Of course I did. I'm not going to get into yet another fight about why she was the one I voted for, because it doesn't matter anymore. She didn't win. And so now I have to look forward and figure out how I'm going to get through four years of Trump.
Whenever someone is upset with what I write or the profanity I use, they clutch their pearls and yell, "What about the children?" Well, get me some pearls to clutch and smelling salts, because I'm about to yell, "What about the children?"
Seriously. What about them? What will we teach our children over these next four years? Trump's behavior goes against everything we teach our kids about being decent human beings. We teach them not to bully, not to call people names. We teach them to accept one another's differences. We teach them humility. We teach them empathy and to care for others in their community, especially the needy. We teach them not to lie. What do we tell them now? What do you tell your kids when they come home from school and they're wearing those little stickers on their shirts that say, "Bully-free zone!" What do you tell them when they say, "My friend is scared of Trump. He's scared of our president. You shouldn't be scared of your president, right? Are you scared, Mom?" What do you tell them when they see the evening news and they hear Trump say in his own words that he can grab women, when he mocks the disabled, when he attacks people of color, when he calls people fat and ugly, when he lies about the size of ... well, everything? What do you tell them when he brags about how rich he is, how smart he is, how much more beautiful his wife (and his daughter--eww) are than other women? What do you tell them when he behaves like a petulant child? What do you tell them when he lies? What do you tell them when he sends his press secretary out to scold the free press for "demoralizing" him because they call out his behavior?
Frankly, I have no idea what to tell the children, as everyone likes to say: THIS IS NOT NORMAL! But I have children to raise and so here's my plan:
1. I will make them think. I have always been honest with my kids and a bit preachy about my ethics and morals and views on the world. That will not change. If anything, I will probably double down now. They're 10 and 12 and I don't need to shelter them from the world anymore. I will let them watch and read the news and research the topics that are being discussed. I want them to have all the facts (actual facts, not "alternative facts" which are lies, that's a fact) and form opinions. I realize they might not end up having the same opinion as me, but that's OK. They'll learn critical thinking skills and hopefully some common sense. This same process backfired with my parents and we're now on opposite sides of many issues because of it, however I can have discussions with my parents and I can at least listen and I can understand where they're coming from.
2. We will not be black and white. The world is gray. We've gotten ourselves into a huge mess by being black and white. There used to be a time when our political parties actually worked together. When they could actually acknowledge the positive in the other side and the negative in their own. We need to own our faults and our mistakes. We need to see the positive in our challengers. We're too divided when we're always pointing out the negatives in one another and not seeing our own negatives, too. I can't afford to be black and white with my kids. They have family members, friends, people they trust and love, who voted for Trump. I can't say, "All of those people are BAD!" just like they can't say I'm bad for not voting for him.
3. We will step up our charity work as a family. We've always made giving a part of our lives, but we'll increase it this year. We'll give our time as well as our money. I'll encourage my kids to pick organizations that mean something to them and we'll make sure that we're impacting our community in a positive way.
4. We will be nice. I know, I know. It's hard for me, too. But here's the thing. I'm exhausted from being angry and outraged all the time. I'm not going to change my blog and books to Rainbows and Unicorns, that would be madness, but I will try not to hate people so much. We will listen and we will try to understand before making judgments. We will be empathetic and kind, even if it isn't deserved. We'll speak up for those who can't or won't speak up.
5. That being said, I will still be outraged, but I will pick my battles. I will make phone calls, scream and yell and fight for equality, women's reproductive rights, education, health care, freedom of speech, just to name a few. But I won't be sidelined by the carnival and the theatrics. I won't lose my mind because the Girl Scouts went to the parade or because Steve Harvey went to Trump Tower. I won't give a shit when Trump tweets out a bizarre photo of himself "writing" his speech with a Sharpie. I will not share side by side photos of inaugurations and say, "You're not as popular!", because who gives a shit? He already knows he's not as popular as any other president, period. Just get to work, Trump! I will be outraged if he doesn't do the job he swore to do.
6. We will not worry until there's something to worry about. I spend all day on the internet and there are A LOT of worried people on there. There's a lot of speculating and a lot of rumors. It can send me into a tizzy and at dinner time I find myself repeating some of the unconfirmed things I've read that day. I will fact-check and verify before I freak the fuck out. I will teach my kids to fact-check and verify before they freak the fuck out. We can't be Chicken Little running around saying the sky is falling every time he does something abnormal. He's going to do abnormal things. Every single day. Many times these things will just be odd and of no consequence, those are the things to ignore. Many times he's doing the abnormal things to distract us from what he's REALLY doing. I will help my kids see beyond the tweets and faux-indignation and I will help them see what's REALLY happening.
7. We will try to be like men. At one point last week I was screaming the sky was falling in my best Chicken Little impression and a few men who are all long-time readers of mine gently scolded me. They told me in no uncertain terms that THEY were in charge of their own happiness, success, destiny, etc. and I was too. That no person, not even the president, could take away their feeling of self-worth. They refused to give him power over their emotions and they were choosing to put their heads down and get to work and try to make a difference and I should too. My knee-jerk reaction was to think, "Yeah, because you're all privileged men!" but then I remembered I'm supposed to be seeing gray and I'm supposed to be nicer, etc. and so I thought about what they said. Yes, it can feel a little hopeless sometimes and it can feel like, especially as a woman, that I'm being attacked (if you don't believe me, go on social media and read any comment thread under someone's photo from the Women's March), but I'm giving the president and his cronies too much power over me. They can take away our rights, but they can't take away our spirits. I will help my kids develop their own sense of self-worth. We don't need anyone but ourselves to tell us that we're valuable.
8. We will accept him as our president. I am a proud American who has always accepted the Office of the President, no matter who holds it and I have taught my children that, too. Two of the greatest things about our nation is our peaceful transfer of power and our right to speak out against those who hold that power. We have accepted President Trump, but we will read a lot of history and I will make sure that my kids understand what is normal and what is abnormal and we won't be afraid to criticize him. We will remind him of his promises and we won't let him forget his egregious acts.
9. We will not pick on Barron Trump. Young children of the president have always been off-limits and so Barron is off-limits. He is a young boy who has been thrust into the spotlight. We will not read articles speculating about him or attacking him. We will defend his right to privacy.
10. We will vote. My kids aren't old enough to vote yet, but I will teach them by example. I will vote for EVERYTHING. I will show up at town hall meetings and I will ask questions. I will hold my representatives accountable. This is where we can make the most difference. Our legislators, our judges, our governors, our school board presidents, all of them, serve at the pleasure of the people. Far too long we've blamed those at the top for not doing what we want, for not listening to our needs, when really it's our local people who have let us down far more than any president or cabinet has. They are the ones who are supposedly speaking out on our behalf and if they're not saying or doing the right things, then march yourself to the polls and vote them out. On the flip side, if your reps ARE doing the right thing and you are happy with their jobs, then march yourself to the polls and vote them in. Apathy will be the end of us all!
11. We should run for office. Marching is cool, but wouldn't it be cooler to actually vote on the laws? To make the laws? Change can come from within, too. More women than ever are contemplating a run for office. It's an enormous commitment and a huge job when done right, but imagine what a group of like-minded women from all over the country could do for our kids' future?
12. We will wish President Trump luck. Because if he sinks our boat, we all drown.
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