I fell asleep long before the results were in and didn't wake until my husband came to bed. I immediately knew who won. I could hear it in his steps.
As my kids got ready for bed, my oldest son kept anxiously asking me, "Will you tell me who won in the morning?" "Of course!" I kept saying back to him. Of course I would tell him. I was actually pretty excited about waking up the morning of my 30th birthday and being able to say to my kids, "Guess what? History was made last night!"
Now it's 3:09 a.m.
I am not looking forward to my son's expectant face, asking me who won. Because how do I explain it?
This election has been intense. It's not been the typical Republican vs. Democrat dance. It's felt more like tug-of-war between acceptance and rejection. Most people probably don't see themselves as extremists, but I think we've all felt rather extreme feelings this time around.
I'm not trying to be dramatic. I know the world isn't ending. But the thing is, for a lot of people, the world as we know it is threatening to end. And while we don't know exactly what that will look like yet, there is legitimate fear to be had. We have elected a man that has made my eight-year-old son anxious about an election he can't understand, because though he can't see yet how it will impact him, he is worried for his friends and their families.
The truth is, I worry less about Trump and his disgusting nature than I do about the people who put him where he is.
I hear a lot of racist, misogynistic, and prejudice crap in my life. I live in the south, it comes with the territory. I've often had the desire to move because I don't want my kids growing up thinking that that way of thinking is normal or acceptable in any way. However, this election has brought light to the state of our nation in a way I didn't think was possible. How can it be? This home of the brave, land of the free? Where opportunity abounds for all? How can there be people cheering for a man who objectifies, demoralizes, and ostracizes anyone who is unlike himself? How am I supposed to explain to my son that this is the man our country sees as fit to lead us?
Because we won't just be explaining to our children that they can be unbearably crass, disrespectful, hateful, and indulgent and still rise to the top. We'll be telling them that that's what it takes to win.
I have my issues with Hillary (don't we all?), but her supporters have given me hope. So I am sad, but I am not hopeless. The outrageousness of this election has sparked a flame that only promises to continue to burn brighter. I'm currently reading the words of men and women who instead of hanging up their pantsuits to collapse in defeat and depression, are rising up to encourage one another. Instead of retaliating with hate, they are linking arms, forming bonds, creating connections. They are holding onto the hope that together we can make big changes. That regardless of who our country calls commander and chief, our loyalty is to each other.
So that's what I will be telling my kids when they wake up.
Our dream is not to build walls, but break them down. Our goal is not to win, but to rise above.