Thursday, November 3, 2016

First I Will Vote, Then...

Last Monday I spent several hours in the waiting room of a very busy hospital while Peyton had surgery on his leg. I sat with other moms and dads and friends waiting for word from the doctors about our loved ones in surgery. We all had pagers like we were waiting for a table at Outback. When someone's pager started buzzing it meant there was information at the front desk about your loved one. We all sat and waited and watched and worried. Some people sat quietly while others talked, a lot. There was a feeling of quiet camaraderie and support in that waiting room. Even though none of us wanted to be there, the scene of everyone rooting for each other and giving one another supportive head nods and understanding smiles felt nice, and even a little hopeful. And that felt great. I mean the world hasn't felt very supportive or understanding lately. It's felt angry and divisive and full of fear and anxiety and who are you voting for and which scandal and what and more and more anger and holy shit, the election is killing my hope

I've been walking around with a feeling of dread and physically feel ill when I drive past a Trump sign (which is a lot because there are a TON of Trump signs around my area).

These are the signs of my people, but I imagine someone somewhere is driving by feeling annoyed or angry by these signs. And I vow to honor them and listen and be patient and put out positive vibes into the universe.

After bringing Peyton home from the hospital, picking up Lucy from practice and getting the other boys off the bus and making dinner, I went to a middle school choir concert to hear Lucy sing. Once again I found myself in a room full of supportive, loving people. They were taking pictures and videos of their kids and smiling at each other. It felt sort of hopeful again. I thought maybe it was time to turn off the news and just start embracing all the hope around me in real life. I sat up a little straighter and took a deep breath, maybe everything would be okay I thought. But just then, I noticed the man in front of me looking at guns on his phone. He sat and looked at Instagram pages with names like ConcealandCarry. It bothered me. It annoyed me that he was on his phone throughout the concert AND that he was into guns. But whatever. Then he went on his Facebook page and while he was scrolling picture after picture of women in lingerie and underwear kept popping up on his feed. Then there were a few posts about the evils of ISIS with disturbing pictures. I was disgusted, but mostly completely upset that Wade, who is in first grade, was seeing the images too. 

"Sir, will you please put your phone away, my son is looking at everything you are looking at because you are holding your phone up," I said to him. He rolled his eyes and made a breath noise like my teenagers, then put his phone in his pocket. That hopeful feeling was obliterated. 

This is Trump's America I thought--guns, unabashed objectification of women and men acting like pouty teenagers. There is no hope, we are screwed. 

But that can't be right. Can it? I mean we aren't screwed. Yet. Part of the curriculum at my preschool where I work is the First/Then transition rule. The teachers are supposed to say "First we ___________, Then we ___________" to help the children with expectations and responsibility and routines. For example, "First we wash our hands, then we have snack." It helps the children know what's next.

Maybe we grown ups need to use a First/Then rule right now. First we VOTE. Then we _____________. Fill in the blank with either celebrate or grieve. Then we move onto the next step. And I think we need to think about what those next steps are going to be.  I mean are we going to fill in the blank with "stay angry" or "hate my neighbor" or "leave the country." I'm not.

Even if I celebrate my candidate winning, there will be another First/Then with all the people that live near me with the Trump signs. With less than a week to go until the election here's what my "Top 10 Then List" looks like (no matter who wins):

First: VOTE

1. Limit my time on social media. Sometimes it's a good thing and sometimes it's stressful. If I feel stressed or anxious, I will go offline.

2. Continue to speak up respectfully. I will share my opinion. I will tell obnoxious men to stop looking at half-naked women on their phones and to do gun shopping at home and not at the middle school choir concert. 

3. Educate myself about and get more involved with local politics. Yes, Presidential elections are important but my god, creating change on a local level is HUGE.

4. Embrace compassion and be more patient. I swear to god I will work on this. I will see the other side. I will genuinely try to understand more and judge less. Even people that spent a ton of money on those giant Trump signs for their yard.

5. Remember that it will be okay. It will. "The rancor ushered in a golden age of literary assasination in American politics. No etiquette had yet evolved to define the legitimate boundaries of dissent. Poisonous pen artists on both sides wrote vitriolic essays that were overtly partisan, often paid scant heed to accuracy, and sought a visceral impact." This is a quote from the Hamilton biography Ron Chernow that I'm every so slowly reading. Guys, we've been here before and we made it through, we'll do it again.

6. Spend more time outside. Because it makes me happier.

7. Let shit go. I will embrace my inner Elsa and let go of what I can't control.

8. Dance more in my kitchen because quite frankly it's fun and I haven't been doing it enough lately.

9. Say thank you more. And just appreciate people doing nice things and stop taking it for granted.

10. Find the good in people, search for and provide camaraderie in waiting rooms whether it's in the hospital or at Outback or in line to vote for the next election. I will remember those good people moments, find hope in them and pay it forward.

But first, I will VOTE.


  1. Love this, Angela. But I had to laugh about Wade seeing those provocative pictures at the choir concert. KH

  2. Yes to all of these!! Thanks for the inspiration! And seriously, at a middle school choir concert?! That's ridiculous! You totally did the right thing!