Wednesday, November 09, 2016

To My Liberal Friends - A Story of Healing.

To begin with, I think it is only fair that I state up front that I suspect the only people who would venture to call me a liberal are some of the people in this small Utah town where I live.  I am pretty sure that just about anywhere else in the world I would be called a conservative moderate (or maybe even just a conservative).  That being said, this past election cycle I was one of the people in the, “Anyone but him” camp. 

Last night as the polls started coming in I felt my stomach sink, and, as the night wore on, I kept telling myself it was like the Bush Gore election, so I went to bed hoping (naively) that a decision wouldn’t be made when I woke in the morning.   

But, when I woke up at 4:30 this morning instead of turning over and going back to bed, I couldn’t resist the temptation to check.  My worst fears were confirmed.  Somehow we had elected (by a landslide!) a man that I truly felt was a horrible person into the most powerful position in our country.
As my husband and I went over all the worries and concerns this development caused us, one thing kept coming to the forefront of our minds, “How do we tell our girls?”  The younger ones we suspected wouldn’t be too hard.  They are only 5 and 7, and while they are aware of what has been going on, I suspected that their minds would effortlessly move on to what they were going to do in school today.  

It was my 10-year-old I was worried about.  She was aware of what was going on.  She knew the horrible things Trump had done, and the radical issues he was touting he would put in place if elected.  She knew a lot of her friends (and their parents) thought he was better than Hillary, but she held out a hope that the people around her would not vote for him.  In retrospect, this was my fault.  When I talked to her, I left out the fact that most of the people around us felt differently.  I didn’t warn her to steel herself and be prepared to stand alone for her beliefs.

When the moment finally came to tell my girls the news, I started to repeat a phrase I had heard in my college years about respecting the man because you respect the office…but the words died in my throat.  I couldn’t bring myself to tell my girls that because he was going to be president, they should respect a man who bragged about being able to grope women and get away with it because of who he was.  I just. couldn’t. do it. 

The moment slipped away and, although disappointed, they all moved on.  It wasn’t until we were in the car later that my 10-year-old asked, “Mom, who did Utah vote for?”  My throat clenched as I broke the news that Utah’s electoral votes went to Trump.  While the news of Trump’s win disappointed her, this news shocked her.  She couldn’t understand how the majority of Utahans would vote for him.  I could see her little mind churning, trying to reconcile the thought of all these people around her, who she knew to be good, intelligent, conscientious people voting for him.  It was then that I realized my mistake. 

When I was growing up, every time I felt strongly about an issue, my dad would purposely take the opposite stance and force me to confront how a reasonable, intelligent, good person could possibly think differently than me.  This did one of two things.  It either changed my mind, or it made me more firm in my own belief.  (Okay, one of three things…either those, or I’d storm off in a rage…I was a teenager after all).  But, regardless of what it did to my opinion on the issue, it always made me look at the people supporting the other side with more understanding, respect and compassion. 

We live in a very conservative place.  I assumed my daughter was hearing lots of conservative opinions, so my talking to her about more liberal views, I thought, was balancing that out.  I didn’t take into account that the majority of the conservative opinions she was hearing were coming from 10-year-olds, and mostly consisted of, “At least he’s not Hillary, she wants to kill babies.”
As I saw my daughter trying to figure out how on earth these good people she knew could possibly vote for this man that I had demonized, I determined to take a page from my dad’s playbook and decided to do my best to explain to her why good, reasonable, intelligent people would choose to vote for Trump. 

We talked about issues people had with Hillary.  We talked about her emails.  We talked about religious liberties.  We talked about late term abortion.  We talked about corruption and elitism.  We talked about the judicial branch of government.  We also talked about the thought process I had gone through in deciding that, despite my disagreeing with her on many things, I would rather have her in office than Trump. 

Then the conversation turned to Trump. 

We talked about the issues I have with Trump’s policies, but this time, I explained them to her from the other side.  We talked about illegal immigration.  We talked about the working class.  We talked about state government versus federal government. We talked about marginalized people feeling like they have no voice.  I made a conscientious effort to not use the terms racism, ignorance and hate (remember, my goal was to get her to better understand where these people she knew were not racist, or ignorant or hateful were coming from).  We did talk about fear.  I don’t know how to explain Trump’s desire to ban a religion without talking about fear. 

But something happened as I assumed the role of the defender of the people voting for this person I had been vilifying for months.  I began to have compassion for them.  I began to think about how their life experiences had led them to their decision.  And while I still, wholeheartedly, disagree with their decision, and still feel anxiety over what the next four years will bring, some of my faith in the people of this country has been restored.  I now understand a bit more about where they are coming from, and feel a desire to make sure they have a place in this conversation where we can discuss their needs and concerns without making them feel like bigots or hate mongers. 

I also feel like I understand my dad a bit more.  He wasn’t just forcing me to look at the other side of issues for my benefit.  He was also doing it for him.  

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Mother's Day 2016

Yes, it has officially been a VERY long time since I last blogged...and in all reality, it will probably be a VERY long time until I blog again.  But today was one of those days that I want to remember forever, and I just had to write about it.

First of all, I woke up to four very excited girls who had been waiting for what felt (to them) like AGES to give me their Mother's Day gifts. (A couple even tried to convince me to open them on Friday when they brought them home from school). 
A Mother with her four daughters

I have only been a mother to kids in elementary school and younger so far, but I have to say, I think having elementary school kids on mothers day has to be the most awesome time to have kids on Mother's day! (Did that even make sense???)  I seriously love the notes and gifts the girls give me that they make in their classes every year.  This year the twins were in  preschool at an elementary school so even they had some pretty rockin presents.

I am so stinking thankful to the girls teachers who help the kids make the gifts every year.  This year Addison gave me this AWESOME apron.  I am 100% an apron person.  I'm pretty sure I have at least 10, and I feel like it's not enough.  I spill stuff on myself ALL the time (My husband will confirm it if you ever get to talk to him).  Remember that 30 Rock episode when the intern thinks Liz Lemon is a mom because she always has food on herself?  Yeah, whoever wrote that skit probably got their inspiration from me.  If I don't have an apron on it is a miracle if I don't spill on myself.  The poem Addison wrote in her card was pretty awesome too.

Then Hannah gave me this awesome hot pad (which we ALWAYS need on our table)!  She insisted I see the paper she made it from because the red didn't come through too well on the tile.  That just makes me love it more though.  I will use it forever!  Are all mother's day gifts from kids so useful???  I feel like these kids really nailed it this year!

And the twins.  I love flowers so much, and am so excited to plant these, but I must confess, my favorite are the "All About My Mom" notes.  I'm so glad Maya got my age right, and apparently, according to Lilly, even I get them confused....yeah, that's probably true.
I love my kids so much.  Sometimes they seriously drive me crazy, but they really are just so incredible.  I couldn't imagine life without them.  

And now, the real reason I felt like I had to blog today.  This guy:
Although I do not have pictures of it, he woke me up to a spotless house, and an INCREDIBLE french toast casserole this morning.  Seriously, it was SO GOOD...I'm REALLY hoping he wants it for Father's day just so we can have it again.  (I can't justify eating that many calories unless it's for a special occasion).  ;)

And then for dinner he made me this AMAZING salmon with asparagus and mashed potatoes.  This man knows his way around a grill.  I have had many a fish some VERY nice restaurants too...but I have NEVER had fish as good as the salmon he cooked me today.  It was seriously amazing.  I ate WAY too much of it.

And as amazing, and wonderful, and loved, and appreciated as he made me feel all day, this was the thing that really made me love him so much today:

So we are LDS (Mormon) and for Mother's day for the past few years, the men in the ward (congregation) have taken over all the Sunday school, primary, and youth classes in the third hour so that the women who normally teach those classes can attend Relief Society (the women's meeting at the end of our church block).  

Well today, when I got to my seat, I was surprised to see my husband sitting next to the bishop at the front of the room.  The bishop got up and told us that they had been trying to figure out the perfect present for all of the women in our ward for Mother's Day.  They didn't want to give us a plant that would most likely die before half of us were able to get it in the ground, and they didn't want to give us candy, which would most likely wind up divided between begging children on the way home, so they commissioned Bart to create a custom block print to give all the women in the ward.  

As the bishop said this, I remembered the late hours Bart had been spending after school for the past few weeks.  I just assumed it was because the year was winding down and he was helping his students get their portfolios ready for the A.P. test.  But as the bishop was speaking I remembered that at one point, when I asked him what he was doing after school for so long, he replied, "You'll find out."  

I imagined him searching for this quote, placing the type and then painstakingly carving out the linoleum block he would create the prints from.  I imagined him applying ink by hand to the block and making the print over and over, discarding the ones that were sub standard in his opinion.  And doing this for all the women in the ward. I swear, my love for my husband grew ten times today.  I truly cannot express how much I love him.  I am so grateful he is the father of my children.  

And he couldn't have chosen a better quote.  If you haven't read Elder Holland's talk on mothers that this quote came from, you can find it here.  It is such a beautiful, uplifting, inspiring sermon on mothers and motherhood.  I truly love it.  

After explaining about the prints, the bishop said the other thing he knew we never had enough of was time.  And they wanted to give us a little time back for ourselves.  So instead of sitting through a class, the bishopric had set up an ice cream bar and tables in the cultural hall (gym) of the church, so we could all grab some ice cream and just sit and visit with each other.   It was seriously the most thoughtful, loving, wonderful mother's day present I have ever received from a bishopric. 

And to all the amazing and women in my life, and especially to my own mother who put(s) up with so much from me ESPECIALLY (but not exclusively) when I was a teenager, I love you and hope you have had a wonderful, uplifting Mother's Day.