Parenting After Election Night
Election 2016 left many people with a mixed bag of emotions. We went to bed fearing for the world we were leaving our children. We agonized over increased reports of aggression and violence toward minorities. We struggled with what we would tell our children. I am still working through these emotions myself, as an American but also as a Canadian and world citizen. I feel fortunate that my children are young enough to be well within my protection. But I still agonize, like many of you, over how to parent after the election.I made a decision a week ago on election night. I was watching the polls roll in, witnessing a nightmare unfolding. I wanted to scream. I wanted to drown my sorrows. I wanted to explode with every feeling that was racing through my brain. Fear. Anger. Disgust. Confusion. Profound sadness. I wanted to grab each one and revel in it.But my children were also exploding. Breccan was off-the-walls-overtired. Olin was hungry and exhausted. Both needed bath and bed. Both needed attention and love, two things at the time I was in no mood to give. But Nick was out, and I was the parent on duty. I am not allowed a complete meltdown.I will repeat that, because it saves me regularly when I selfishly want to abandon my recovery.
I am a parent. I am not allowed a complete meltdown.
Later, after they were asleep, I indulged my emotions. As usual, delaying them inevitably brought clarity. My anger gave way to a mild resentment and pessimism. Sadness and fear eclipsed disgust . It is awful to be so full of emotion and yet to feel so empty and drained.A dear friend made a very apt assessment of the situation. Now is not the time to furiously write about our emotions and analyze why and how this happened. That is for later days.
Now is the time to get to work; now is the time to do your job.
Let's ignore our millennial urge to think of every angle and talk out every theory. We just went through something historical. Believe me, no one's going to forget about it. Instead, buckle down and put your real values into practice.If you are a teacher, teach your students it is not okay to bully. If you are a nurse or doctor, lend your skills to marginalized groups. If you are a lawyer, work for immigrants, LGBTQ folks, and sexual assault victims. If you are a therapist, please help those for whom this news makes the world scary enough to contemplate or attempt taking their own life.Most importantly , if you're a parent, focus on your children. Let your children know the right way to treat people. Teach them that it is wrong to be a bully and that it is always right to be gentle and kind. Teach them to care about more than themselves. Teach them consent. Teach them cooperation. Put aside your own fear and focus on making their world as safe as possible.Do the work. Do your job. And maybe, when these 4 years are over, we will have the chance to try again.In an effort to focus on doing the work, I will be posting regular mindfulness cues on Twitter at @happygomama. Check out the hashtag #mommymindfulness to follow, and please tweet your own mindful moments!