I really didn’t think it would happen, but it did. Last night, Mike and I left one of the most depressing election parties ever, bottles of champagne in the fridge never to be cracked open. I know many of you feel differently and a good portion of Americans are celebrating today, but for just as many (nobody can argue that the popular vote was ridiculously close), this is a sad day of defeat.
I know a lot of people want me to go back to being funny and talking about parenting stuff (I’ve lost over 1000 facebook followers since I began talking about the election), but this blog is my story and this day is a big part of it. It feels incomplete not to close this chapter out. Tomorrow, I promise I will try to move forward (you’ll be happy to know, I have a post all cued up about Shimmer and Shine) but today, allow me the freedom to process this loss in the only way I know how— writing about it.
And please respect that even if you aren’t one of the readers who is interested, there are other readers who are waiting for this post because it helps them move forward too.
Our defeat is two fold. One, we are sad that this was not the moment in history when a woman would finally ascend to be the first President of the United States. And two, we are scared by the candidate who won and what that says about our new reality. Let me be clear— last night I cried myself to sleep and it was not because a woman lost. It was because someone who I view as a predator and a bigot and a liar and a cheat is now representing our country. And our vice president, even more so than our new president, champions the opposite of every principle I believe in.
For Trump supporters who feel Hillary is even worse, imagine you had woken up to her victory and try to sympathize.
The most troubling thing for many of us was what to tell our children. Thankfully, my children are still young enough not to know that much. But as I proudly wrote about yesterday, Mazzy has been very excited about this election and the prospect of Hillary Clinton as President in particular. They have been discussing it at school and I took her with me to vote. She asked if she could fill my ballot in and I told her she could, instructing her on how to do it. “That was easy!” she said. “Yes,” I told her. “The hard part is waiting for the results.” FYI, many of you claimed having a child fill in a ballot is illegal, but I checked and in NY State, it is not.
Voting seems like eons ago, when I very much believed Hillary Clinton would be elected the next President and my six-year-old daughter would wake up to the finest example of a glass ceiling shattered. A glass ceiling, mind you, that she doesn’t even really understand exists.
When Mike and I walked out of that party, we both turned to each other and said the same thing, “Mazzy is going to be devastated.”
I cried later that night, retreating into our bedroom while Mike still watched the results tally in the living room. I couldn’t take it anymore. Mike is also devastated by the loss but not in quite the same way I am. It’s triggered a lot of things for me. “Get it out now,” Mike told me, “because you have to hold it together in front of the kids.” “I know,” I said.
This morning, Mazzy crawled into bed with us like she always does, asking for us to turn on the television to watch cartoons. I thought it was good that it wasn’t top of mind for her.
“Mazzy,” I told her. “I need to tell you something. Hillary Clinton didn’t win.”
“What? Why not???” She was shocked. Everyone she knew had voted for her and nobody had prepared her for a different outcome.
I told her that she won in New York and in many other states but unfortunately not enough states to become the President. “She came really really close. Closer than a woman has ever come before.” I said it like that was a good thing and Mazzy bought it. She seemed satisfied and moved on to eating breakfast and getting dressed. We did not discuss Trump but I assume she’ll have more to say about that when she gets home from school. I’m very curious about what her teachers will say.
Then Mike took Mazzy to school and I was left with Harlow, who had just woken up to start her day. I got her dressed and fed her breakfast, all while still trying to explain the loss to myself in my own head.
Just before I was about to put on our jackets, Harlow stopped me. She looked suddenly frightened and confused.
“Mom? Who won the president?”
I was a little shocked because although I made her say “Vote for Hillary Clinton” on Snapchat the other night, we really haven’t discussed it with Harlow at all. She is just turning four next week and I thought she was too young to understand any of it.
“Donald Trump,” I told her.
And then her lip quivered and I saw her eyes process and she started to cry. “Oh sweetie, what’s wrong???” I asked totally taken aback.
“I thought Hillary Clinton was going to win…” she sobbed.
“Oh honey, I did too.”
Harlow did not recover as quickly as Mazzy because that is one way they have always been different. I had to really reassure her that it was okay.
I told her that Mommy voted for Hillary and Daddy voted for Hillary and Grammy voted for Hillary and Ruth voted for Hillary and all the people she loved wanted her to win too. But there are two people running for President and more people wanted Trump to win, even if that wasn’t our choice.
Harlow was still inconsolable. She knows nothing about Trump or any issues whatsoever so I asked her, “Why did you want Hillary to win so badly?”
“I just like girls better.”
“Well if that’s all it is, I promise you that in your lifetime, another woman will run for President.”
“Okay,” she seemed to feel better.
“Maybe you can run for President!”
“I don’t want to be President.”
I hear you, Harlow. But I have faith that Hillary’s loss is inspiring many women out there to be brave enough to try again.
I’m going to end with a quote from Hillary Clinton’s concession speech:
“I know we have still not shattered that highest and hardest glass ceiling, but someday, someone will, and hopefully sooner than we might think right now… 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.”