This week is going to be a hard one for me – as hard as the second week of November, only worse, because now it’s even more real. A few months ago I was expecting this to be a week of celebration. I thought it would be a week when this country finally welcomed its first woman president into the Oval Office. Instead as this week starts, I feel disappointed, and sad, and overwhelmingly let down.
Mostly though, I feel nervous. Nervous for these next four years and the changes they’ll bring; and especially for how those changes will affect the world my daughter grows up in.
In reality, she likely won’t have any idea about what’s going on in the world for the next four years, no more than I did when I was her age. From four to eight years old I remember starting kindergarten and learning how to tie my shoes, I remember having the end of my finger stitched back on after slamming it in a door hinge. I remember my parents’ divorce vividly, and the day my first best friend moved away.
What I don’t remember is what was going on outside my adolescent bubble. I don’t remember President Clinton creating NAFTA, or the bombing at the summer Olympics, or the state of the economy. And I had no idea what the Monica Lewinsky scandal was until I was a teenager.
Those four years were almost two decades ago though and the times are very different now, as are the men holding the office of President.
President Clinton may have gotten caught with his pants down in his personal life during his time leading our country, pun absolutely intended. Yet, under his leadership a number of women and minorities were appointed to key government posts, unemployment was low and he removed trade barriers between the U.S. and Mexico.
So far Trump has appointed a climate-change denier to protect the environment and an anti-union, anti-minimum-wage raising fast-food executive to protect the workers. During his campaign he promised to build a wall on the Mexican border and made the phrase, “grab her by the pussy,” a sickeningly regular part of the news cycle. Yes I am nervous for this presidency, so very nervous.
I can’t really know what the next four years will bring – please, please let it just be four years – but so far all I feel is dread. I try to be hopeful, but it’s hard. It seems like it only gets harder with every day we get closer to the January 20th, or with each new Trump-related story that’s released.
Yet I know the most important thing for me in the next four years, and for so many others, is to not give up hope. I must continue to believe there are still good people doing good deeds and creating beauty, even when everything I see on the news is so ugly. I have to believe there are other people and other parents out there just like me, who aren’t willing to let the hatred spread.
The absolute best thing I can do though, is the thing I would have done no matter who won the presidency. That is, to teach my daughter all the things I hope the rest of the country remembers in the time to come.
I will teach her to be kind, especially to those she may think of as different. I can teach her tolerance, and the bravery to always stand up for others being bullied. I will teach her that nobody is better than anybody else, that everyone has his or her own strengths and weaknesses. I can teach her to never judge a person based on gender, skin color or religion. I will make sure she knows all bodies are beautiful, regardless that they come in any manner of shapes and sizes.
If I can do that, I must continue to hope there will be others all across the country remembering the same things. That’s why I can’t give up hope.
I have to believe we’ll come together as a country and make it out okay. I have to believe we can weather whatever ups and downs the presidency of “the Donald” will bring. I must believe that, or else the next four years would surely drive me utterly mad.