What do I tell my kids about a Trump presidency

Trump’s win has devastated pretty much everyone I know on both sides of the political spectrum. From my children who wanted their ‘teammate’ Hillary to win, to friends, colleagues, and neighbours. This ‘victory’ doesn’t sit right with us. And it’s not because our person didn’t win. We’ve all dealt with being on the losing team before. This defeat is different. We’re talking about someone who built his campaign on threats, insults, lies, and fear. His campaign was grounded in hatred, bigotry, misogyny, ignorance, and intolerance. All the things we tell ourselves and our children they cannot and should not espouse… and yet he is now set to become leader of the free world. It’s just too much to take in (To anyone who’s trying to understand what that feeling of unease, degradation, and hurt is it’s how the rest of us feel when we’re attacked because of our race or religion. You know it’s completely wrong and false but it still feels shameful and painful.).

So what do we do now? What comes next? What do we tell our kids? First, hug your loved ones. I held my children a little closer this morning and checked in with my friends and family. I looked around at how my community was reeling from this latest setback and I grieved, and continue to grieve, with them. But soon we need to come out of this fog because, like it or not, we must learn to live in a world where Trump is going to be president.

I am tired of trying to explain to anyone why this is a terrifying moment. I am tired of explaining why this is not business as usual where we just press on. I am tired of trying to make others understand how unsettling this is. If you don’t understand now, in this moment, you won’t understand anytime soon.

So in my mind the absolute best thing to do today, tomorrow, and in anticipation of 2020 is to recommit to love and kindness. Practice it each and every day. Ingrain love and kindness in all you do, at home, with friends, with strangers, at work. Each and every day. If you have kids, teach them love and kindness in word and deed. Muslim, black, Latina, female, LGBTQ, immigrant, poor, middle class, birth control user, none of the aforementioned, whatever. Love and kindness.

Love is not an easy concept to embrace. Love requires us to set aside our prejudices (many of which have been held over lifetimes and generations) and face our fears of others without a tangible safety net. And it can be exhausting. For the most part, we are conditioned to mistrust and judge those we see as different to ourselves. But engaging in that behaviour has led us to this moment now. It has led us to a moment where Trump has been voted in as president on a platform of hatred. Love and kindness are not partisan issues; they are human ones.

So today, along with your children, friends, family members, and communities, let’s make a bold political statement: kindness and love. I am saddened that I live in a world where kindness is a political statement, but fine. I’ll take this as an opportunity to rededicate myself to this mission. I will teach it to my children through my actions, my words, and how I live my life. I will prove to them, and Trump, that his hatefulness will not darken the light of love. His assaults will not make me lash out at others, even if they’re different to me. His ignorance will not stop me from teaching my own children and learning new things with them. Kindness and love.

I will remember this bold political statement as I cry and think about how my boys may be treated as second class citizens simply because they’re Muslim.

I will remember love and kindness as I think about the immigrant families that are afraid they will be deported, separated, or worse.

I will remember this as I think of same-sex couples just wanting to live their lives like everyone else.

I will remember this as I think of the millions and millions of women who just want to be able to access life-saving health services and make decisions for their own bodies.

I will remember this as I think about how Black Lives Matter was labeled ‘trouble’.

I will remember this as I think of every single woman who is essentially being told that a man can treat her as an object to be grabbed, touched, and degraded at a man’s will.

It’s bewildering to think of what a Trump presidency may look like and depressing and downright terrifying to relive the hateful rhetoric that led to his successful election as president. But I believe love and kindness are our first defense against this ever happening again. I believe love and kindness can carry us through these first few overwhelming and crushing days, weeks, and months as we begin to process what happens next.

At this point, I feel it’s impossible to prepare against his policies because no one really knows what those are (Trump included…). So while we wait for this to shake out, I will continue to tell my children that bullying, intimidation, hatred, ignorance, and fear will not win. Trump and his supporters may attack my religion, my ethnic background, my gender, and many of the people I love, but they will not win.

Love and kindness 2020.

p.s. watch us come back stronger.

About Why I’m Raising My Sons to Think Like Women

As I was cleaning up my sons’ toys last night and muttering to myself about the entitlement of my boys, a thought suddenly struck me: ‘if I don’t do this, then who will’? As in, I have implored every member of this household to tidy up after themselves and I still f**king get stuck doing it because if I don’t do it, clearly no one else will.  That’s how I spent International Women’s Day, essentially doing what women do: all the stuff, big and small, that needs to get done because if we don’t do it, who will?

Now make no mistake; I’m one of the lucky ones.  My husband is one of the good ones.  He cooks some weekends, cleans up after dinner, is on toddler duty as soon as steps through the door in the evening and his shift doesn’t end until about 6 the next morning.  I know I’m lucky.  But still, I find myself doing things and thinking ahead in ways my (useful) husband never would.  I often ask myself ‘why’ because I am raising boys and I want them to be good partners to people someday and contribute to the world.  What I’ve realized about the many wonderful men in my life is that most of them are good at the big things.  So they’re good at excelling at their jobs or doing well in academia or being assertive when needed.  But when it comes to the details of life like managing the family calendar, dressing the kids so they don’t look shipwrecked, or running a household they are, as my cousin so aptly put it ‘Mr. 70%’.

As women, we all know how much we do and how much is expected of us.  We’ve obviously known all along, whether it was watching our mothers, aunts, sisters, etc or doing it our damn selves.  But now that it’s hip to talk about women and the unique ways in which we ‘add’ to work environments and ‘contribute’ to society, I’ve been trying to understand what it is about women (and mothers especially) that makes them so impactful.  It’s all the rage to talk about women-owned businesses being more successful than standard ones and the need for flexible working precisely because women’s contributions mean so much to the labour force that we can no longer afford to exclude them.  But these articles, research studies, and statistics don’t answer the ‘why’ of this female contribution.  Why are female employees so productive and why do female entrepreneurs get it right more often?

Quite simply because women learn from a young age that if they don’t make it happen for themselves, pretty much no one else will.  Your parents will try.  Your teachers might encourage you.  Your (female) colleagues may go to bat for you.  Ultimately, though, you’re working in a system that expects you to be a loving and supportive (read submissive) wife or partner, a perfect mum, a flawless homemaker, and a model employee who isn’t too threatening to the higher-ups.

Now of course this isn’t true for everyone.  There are plenty of entitled women and a growing number of men who truly want to see their wives, partners, sisters, female colleagues, etc excel at whatever they choose to do.  And then of course there’s race and social class that transcend gender and quash peoples’ ambitious in horrible ways.  But we know being born a woman can put you at a disadvantage if you don’t find a way to fight the system, whether you’re born in Europe or Asia (although the stakes may be significantly different).

So why can mothers do so much and why are females so successful in the workplace when they are given the opportunity to stay instead of being forced into the home by a desire to have children?  Because as women we approach everything we do with an ‘if I don’t do this, then who will’ attitude.  If I don’t make dinner for this family, then who else will?  If I don’t complete this project thoroughly, then who will?  If I don’t fix the problems in the workplace that I experienced at all my previous jobs, then who will?  If I don’t make a stand for other mothers, working mothers, older mothers, etc, then who will?  We know the answers to these questions are often ‘no one’ and that is what drives us to success when we are given the chance or when we are able to carve that chance out for ourselves.

I have the good fortune of working for a women-owned business and what I’ve noticed is that the female leaders not only slay it in the creativity and idea department, they actually follow all the way through with their projects.  When needed they delegate but often, they will birth and raise an entire project from start to finish without needing to drag an unnecessary number of employees into the situation.  It’s a skill because not only is it highly efficient, it’s inspiring to watch people so committed to an idea that they work doggedly to turn it into something real and beneficial, whether that’s made up of tiny components or outward facing tasks.  One of my siblings also runs a company with two other women and together these three women are completely shaking up their industry from attracting new business to fundamentally changing working practices for parents and employees who want a life outside of work.  I believe it’s because all these women, intentionally or otherwise, approach their lives from an ‘if I don’t disrupt this industry, then who will’ attitude.

So my new mantra to my children is ‘if you don’t do this, then who will?’ I hope this will serve the dual purpose of teaching my sons to think like women so that they’re not just good at the big things, but at all the things that make a home-life and work-life so rich. (And also so that they can walk from one end of the living room to the other without tripping over 18 different toys.) But then also instill in them that fighting instinct that so many women have because they know nothing will be handed to them.  When you’re forced to answer the question ‘if you don’t do this, then who will’, you’re forced to think about who picks up the slack when you fall short.  I want my boys to be the answer to that question, just like so many women before them.


About Women Being Bossy and Men Being Leaders

Strong women make easy targets.  They refuse to bow down, conform, or blend into a crowd making it easy to scapegoat them.  In theory, people love supporting the idea of a strong woman; in practice, not so much.  Here’s the thing about strong women though: we just don’t give a f*ck about your nonsense and just as soon as there are enough of us, your nonsense won’t matter.

I was brought up by an exceptionally strong mum and six larger-than-life aunts, each one strong, talented, and successful.  My mother only let the strongest women into her life, which thankfully added to the positive female role models in my life.  I assumed all women were this powerful because even in the face of so much negativity, these women remained true to themselves.  It’s simply been a part of me to be surrounded by women of strength.  Sometimes that strength is outward and loud.  Other times it’s quiet, watchful, and patient.  Regardless of what form it takes, it’s always awe inspiring.

If you’re not used to being around strong women it can be off-putting.  We are a threat to the status quo.  We demand more from the people around us, male and female, and just as we stand our ground on issues of importance, we expect that same strength and commitment from those we interact with.  Anything that challenges the norm is seen as threatening though and so people will attempt to put distance between you and themselves.  Let them.  They are, in essence, trimming the fat for you and would have cracked under the pressure to hide their weakness.

If this post is off-putting to you that’s also fine.  If I were a man writing this and saying ‘I don’t care what you think about me because either way I’m living my life’ would you be affronted?  Would you think I’m tooting my own horn?  Would it seem that abnormal?  The truth is, if you’re unsettled by this post, you probably wouldn’t care if I were a man writing this.  But because I’m a woman, asserting myself outwardly and publicly, it’s almost cringe worthy.  Well let me say it again, I’m not trying to be rude to you.  The truth is I just don’t give a f*ck about nonsense and your being unsettled by female confidence is nonsense.  Anytime someone exhibits behavior that is perceived to belong to another gender they are ridiculed, mocked, and bullied.  Female confidence, assertiveness, and strength are no different and until these traits are seen as both male and female (or simply human), women will be singled out and demonized for possessing these qualities.

Strength is not drawn from a finite source.  If I show strength that clearly doesn’t lessen the strength you’re able to have or show.  What I’m now just starting to realize, though, is that female strength is not always about the strength that I’m showing as a woman but about the perceived weakness my strength is highlighting in you.  As a woman, I’m meant to be meeker, more accepting, less argumentative.  As a strong woman, however, I won’t stand idly by while some bullsh*t is being played out.  Calling out that bs is what is so unnerving about a strong woman and it’s what scares people.

As with all stereotyping, demonizing a woman for being strong and confident is lazy.  It’s unoriginal, it requires minimal use of brain cells, is born out of ignorance, and is just so tired.  But until and unless we embrace women for all the ways in which they show strength – leaving children to earn a living, staying at home with children, earning PhDs, breaking barriers by engaging in every type of job out there, defending women’s right to choose what happens to their bodies, etc. – this will never be accepted as a female trait.  It will instead be called bitchiness, affirmative action, controlling, whatever to detract from the path that woman is forging for herself.

As far as possible, I’m raising my son and nephews to be gender-blind.  I imagine this may one day morph into highlighting the nonsensical way in which certain attributes are assigned to different genders but for now, it’s gender blindness.  I remember having a conversation with a friend where she was explaining to me how her daughter is essentially a leader at daycare.  She laughed and jokingly said ‘I’m worried about what the other parents will say about her bossiness.’  I was exactly the same in preschool (surprising, no?) and I’ve been called every name under the sun: bossy, bitchy, controlling, you name it.  At the end of the day though the question shouldn’t be ‘why is this girl so bossy?’ but ‘what is this girl (or parent) doing so right that she is a leader?’ Also ps, according to the status quo women are bossy but men are leaders; no thank you.

Showing female strength can sometimes feel like you’re shouting into the wind; no one wants to hear you and they use the blowing wind as an excuse to keep you silenced.  But it’s also possible for the wind to change direction.  We can be that change.  We can raise our children, male and female, to see strength as strength, regardless of whether it comes from a man or a woman.  We can make that an appealing, attractive, and genderless quality.  And for our generation now we can support each other.  This doesn’t mean everyone has to take a stand on everything.  It simply means that we don’t have to let our fear of female strength drive our desire to tear down and destroy those who show strength.  That can actually happen.  Strong women are only a threat to you if you’re benefiting from keeping women down.  Otherwise we’re just wives, mothers, daughters, sisters, colleagues, bosses, friends, neighbors attempting to carve out a space for ourselves.

FYI : if you do continue to hate on strong women, we still don’t give a f*ck and you won’t change us.