Breakfast this morning was unprecedented in my home. Never has the breakfast table been so quiet. A dark cloud seemed to hover over us, as if a death had just occurred.
I was blinking back tears. I was too choked up to speak about what I thought was the impossible; Donald Trump has been elected President of the United States. The feeling of dread around the table was palpable.
Throughout the campaign, I’ve had numerous conversations with my daughter about the historic nature of this election, mostly that we would be seeing the first female president of the United States. Throughout all the insane commentary from Trump, I never wavered in my surety that it would be impossible for him to win, but also that it would be impossible for Hillary Clinton could lose.
And now many mothers this morning are wondering how we explain this to our children? That we were so wrong. All night long, all I kept thinking about was my daughter. This morning, I had to tell her that sexism, racism, xenophobia, sexual assault and marginalizing minorities are what many people think could make America great.
My daughter and I watched last night, until she couldn’t keep her eyes open anymore. She watched with me in bed, as I powered back so much junk food (stress eating!)
So this morning, when I had to tell her that Trump won, and what that meant, she too was in shock. Not just that Trump won, but that Mommy was wrong.
My 13-year-old daughter seemed so sad (I’m sure my depressed, black vibe affected her mood, too) but also because I had promised that it was going to be a moment she would remember forever. How do you tell your daughters and sons that hell has frozen over, that this is insanity, that a man who can at best be called a bully and at worst a monster has won the most powerful position in not only America, but the world?
It’s not something that’s easily discussed over scrambled eggs during the morning rush to school. Mommy was sad. My daughter was sad.
I imagine that mothers everywhere are heartbroken like me.
My daughter also asked if I thought that Hillary was crying right now. Yes, I told her, she probably is.
She then tried to engage my surprisingly silent four-year-old son, completely unprompted.
‘We live in Canada,’ she told my usually rambunctious son, who shockingly listened. ‘While there’s another place called America. You know how some people at your school are mean and are bullies? Well, in the end, the bully won. Isn’t that bad?’ my daughter asked.
Then we all got in the car and I drove her to school. Crushingly, her school motto is ‘Girls can do anything.’
How do we explain to our kids that we were wrong? That the first female nominee of a major party lost to a candidate who has made the most sexist, misogynistic comments of any nominee we’ve seen in our lifetime?
CNN’s Van Jones cut right to the chase last night and voiced what many of us are thinking today and will be thinking throughout the day, and for weeks and months to come.
‘It’s hard to be a parent tonight for a lot of us,’ Jones said. ‘You tell your kids, ‘Don’t be a bully.’ You tell your kids, ‘Don’t be a bigot.’ You tell your kids, ‘Do your homework and be prepared.’ And then you have this outcome, and you have people putting children to bed tonight, and they’re afraid of breakfast. They’re afraid of ‘How do I explain this to my children?”
And he was bang on and his emotional words bring tears to my eyes every time I watch the clip.
During breakfast, I just couldn’t explain. I still can’t make sense of this. I had no words. I wasn’t prepared for this outcome. How do you explain that so many Americans voted for a racist, sexist, uneducated President? ‘What’s wrong with this world?’ is such an open-ended question. As is, ‘What is wrong with Americans?’
There’s so much to discuss. What will happen to America’s freedom of speech? To women’s rights, to Jewish people, to Latinos, to healthcare, the economy, and the disabled? How do we tell our children that we are scared?
Well, we do it with a broken heart and tears in our eyes. We tell them that hopefully Clinton will become an even more powerful voice and go on to continue to fight for the rights of every marginalized person. She has left an immense political legacy and has fought a fierce battle. She has paved the way, and it will be, hopefully, easier for the next woman who runs. We have taken a huge step forward and millions of women around the world have been inspired to see how strong and smart and ambitious they could be. We can teach them to act in direct opposition to how Donald Trump has acted.
I wonder how many other parents had a terrible, silent breakfast today. This will be a breakfast I do not want to remember.