Whatever else is going on, parents are expected to keep the kids safe, buffer them from the world, and help them make sense of things. 

I know this isn’t always what happens. Growing up I had friends with a parent lost to drink or sickness. A dad who dragged the couch into the backyard and set it on fire. But we’re not supposed to let this happen, not supposed to do this to our kids. Part of our job is to take the pressures of the world and digest, explain, soften. “Mr. Rogers says you always look for the helpers,” you tell them as the fires burn. You find the silver lining. 

When the towers fell on September 11, 2001, I watched TV for two days without pause. I didn’t sleep much. With only a cat and a boyfriend I allowed myself to curl up into a ball and shut everything out. They could take care of themselves. They did.

In November of 2016, on the other hand, waking to the horrific news that my country had elected a monster worse than anything I could imagine, I wasn’t really allowed to fall apart. I cried, which the kids didn’t like. But I also made breakfast, and got everyone to school. I kept the trains running.

The last four years, watching the US be trampled by an unhealed, abused bully, feeling afraid and victimized, I’ve tried to give myself time off to cope. I marched in my pussy hat and stood with our school community against hate.

But mostly I’ve put on a brave face. Made the sandwiches and planned the beach trips. Remembered that people have survived worse. I’ve tried to help the kids see while they are absolutely not allowed to act like the foul, worthless president of the United States, that we could and would survive this. 

We have. Mostly we have.

But today, with the crushing disappointment that the bully was not overwhelmingly repudiated in the election, that not quite but almost half of my fellow citizens would be fine stripping me of the right to marry, adopt, or hold a job, would be cool if I were devastatingly uninsured, today there’s also a crack of light that our long national nightmare might be coming to an end. 

And suddenly it’s here, in this glimmer of hope, that I feel the weight of the last four years of keeping the family going. The crushing, awful despair. I’ve done my best to be a decent parent. To believe that our system can be made more just, that our world could be healed. That there’s a chance the kids will want to step into what we’ve got here for them. But Jesus Christ, it’s been a big ask. It’s been too fucking much, and it better be about to change because I’m on my last sprint. 

It’s time for a rest.

I hope to carve out some space in this still-divided country to come back into myself, to feel safe in the world again. To help the kids fight so they will be too.

I hope you and yours can also find a way through, and back out into the sunshine.