January 28, 2017
Parenting has never felt as if it came completely naturally to me. I always desired to be a mother, and am grateful daily for the honor to do so for my daughter. Yet, how to show up for her best has been an ongoing conversation and at times a downright struggle. To be accountable to another human being’s experience so intimately and formatively is no small task. It is downright humbling and overwhelming on the daily. The more that I have recognized the inherent need to take responsibility for my own life though, and to constantly do so to the best of my ability in any given moment, the more clear I have become on how I want to show up for my girl. Just a few years ago, I was taking multiple pharmaceuticals daily for anxiety, depression and sleep. I was completely disconnected from myself and most around me, feeling like a total stranger in my own life. I was engaged in unhealthy personal and professional relationships. I was lost in many ways in spite of the privileges and good fortune in my life. My contribution to my friends, family, community and the world was far less than I desire. I was unclear about who I was and how I should show up, especially as a parent. In that period, it was easy to blame everyone else for how they were treating me, but in the end, it became clear that only I could save myself.
The state of our country right now feels much the same. Many of us feel like strangers in our own lives, unsure how so many values and rights that we hold sacred are being stripped away at a rapid fire pace. As I felt years ago, this week has left many deflated, depressed and disconnected. People are rightfully frustrated and angry. This morning over breakfast, my daughter expressed her sadness and frustration about the incessant pro-Trump sentiments being shared at school. Sadly this aggressive banter has been happening too often over the past weeks. More specifically, she said that yesterday one student expressed her joy over Trump’s decision to build the wall between the US and Mexico. This same student has been bullying my daughter with comments about her “support of Hillary’s desire to kill babies” for weeks now. There is a line between our right to free speech and bullying over another’s beliefs. The tone emanating from the White House sadly crosses this line constantly.
My daughter and I speak often of tolerance, and this discussion includes race, socio-economic background, religious beliefs and more. As a white person in a privileged community, I want to raise a human who has an awareness of other people’s experiences, which may not always be as supported and embraced as hers. And, at the same time, I have had to talk her through more moments than I care to count about honoring her Jewish faith in the midst of ignorant comments and teasing at school. My daughter shared how Trump’s immigration and refugee orders “feel like the worst of Ellis Island” and, as a proud Jewish American, she reflected on the parallels of the rejection of a safe haven for the Jews by many during World War II, sadly the US included for a while (further reading by Smithsonian, “The U.S. Government Turned Away Thousands of Jewish Refugees, Fearing That They Were Nazi Spies”). She was extremely upset and starting to spin out.
After telling her how deeply I understand how she is feeling, I encouraged her to hold her beliefs and not feel the need to stoop to the levels of bullying, anger and negativity that are being promoted by our so-called leaders. I explained the connection we find when we act from our values with purpose. I shared about the opportunity I had yesterday to do an interview with one of our dear friend’s, Anne Van de Water for her project, “The Reason.” Anne asked me questions about my driving purpose in life, my key values, my message and my vision for my life, and how all of those feed what I do and how I live. I explained to my daughter that in this moment, we must ask these questions of ourselves, which is the whole purpose of Last Cut, and then stand up for the truths that we believe in most. We must find our purpose in all we do. Now more than ever, we must live our values and show those around us that we love and support them. The only way that I know how to move forward with all that is happening is the following:
Ask myself daily what I believe in most.
Live those beliefs in every action.
Pay extra attention to how I can stand up for others who might feel scared or threatened or just in need of love. Follow through with my words and actions to show support to causes and those in need.
Constantly do an inventory of where I am not living up to what I believe in. We discussed how I am leaving Chase for banking because of their support of the Keystone and Dakota Access Pipelines. I said to her that if she feels as if Trump is making a mess of our country, she can ask herself where she might be making messes in her life and do what she can do fix them. We must make change right around us in our own lives, as well as on the macro level.
And, yes, I will keep writing letters, making calls, donating money and taking action on behalf of what I believe in most that is being attacked by this administration. I will continue to stand up and speak up in the broader sense.
I will approach this precious and precarious moment in time as I have learned to do parenting. I will keeping asking the honest questions of myself that provide direction and meaning. I will act on behalf of those truths. This moment in our country’s history is challenging us all to show up even in the moments that feel like a downright struggle. We are being asked to consider deeply what we hold most true and act on behalf of those beliefs day in and day out, within ourselves, our home, our schools, our communities and our country. We must show up. We must, for ourselves and for our children.