Love trumps hate?

Post-election morning with my kids

Early this morning I went to bed in despair. I spent the preceding hours wondering, along with millions of others, how I would share the night’s news of what was shaping up to be a Trump electoral victory with my children. I participated in a video chat with friends, and the question of our children dominated our conversation as the election results rolled in. In disbelief, we rehearsed potential angles that might help our little ones digest the news.

  1. Sometimes the “bad guy” wins.
  2. This man doesn’t represent our values.
  3. It’s okay to disagree with people in positions of authority.
  4. We will have to keep fighting for what we believe in: fairness, justice, empathy, diversity.
  5. We need to love one another just a little bit more than we did yesterday.

Nothing assuaged my fears.

Then, a dear friend who practices reiki entered my mind. I have always admired how she can positively impact people’s outlook and interpersonal relations by bringing loving, calm energy into a room. I resolved that when I awoke I would do this, flooding my children with positivity, love, and hope in order to assuage their fears, our collective terror.

Instead, I woke up and cried. Then, pulling myself together, I entered my eight-year-old’s bedroom. It was still dark out as I gently woke her, kissing her forehead and telling her I loved her. As I tried to channel calming, positive thoughts, I awaited her first words, expecting she would resume her endless questioning of the last few days. Trying to be ready for the conversation that lay ahead.

“Mommy, is 50 an even number?”

I felt my body soften, relieved she was thinking about elementary math rather than election results.

“Yes, sweetie, all numbers that end in 0 are even numbers.”

“And what’s half of 50?”

“25. Two quarters makes 50 cents, right?”

“Right. So what happens if Trump gets half the states and Clinton gets half the states? Then what?”

I felt a punch to the gut. This was an electoral question all along, and I should’ve known as much.

“That’s a good question. It is one people were just talking about last night. What would happen next is pretty complicated, but I think it would involve Congress.”

I paused.

“But that didn’t happen last night.”

My daughter’s chest rose and fell under her blankets as she breathed a sigh of relief. “Oh, good.”

She was suddenly at ease, seemingly reassured that the monster she feared would be gone forever.

In the first light of dawn, I rested my head on the bed, trying not to lose it. I waited, searching for inner strength. I failed. Flying in the face of all my plans, I sobbed the news of a Trump presidency to my child. I just couldn’t hold it in, as much as I tried.

My baby wrapped her arms around me. “I’m so sorry, Mommy.”

After a long, silent hug, I did manage to communicate my earlier ideas about our belief system, the need to keep fighting, the need to love each other a bit more, to go high when they go low. The conversation continued with her younger brother over breakfast.

In the car on the way to school I taught the kids the meaning of the word “trump,” and we talked about the values behind “love trumps hate.”

As we pulled into our historic elementary school in an African American neighborhood in a progressive, blue county — the car line was abnormally long. I imagined that many other parents had struggled with similar conversations this morning and hadn’t managed to get their children on the bus in time. And I felt such empathy for our teachers and administrators, who would be faced with the difficult task of talking about the elections with our children today.

I expected to see a lot of glum faces. Instead, an African American teacher doubling as crossing guard greeted us with just a bit more enthusiasm than usual. It struck us all as out of the ordinary, given our somber mood.

“Look, Mommy! Ms. L. is spreading joy. I read about that recently in one of my library books. You spread joy when you go out of your way to be just a little kinder to others when you know they are down. You give them a smile when they least expect it, and it helps them to feel better. That spreads joy and makes the world a better place.”

I was so proud and thankful for her in that moment. Today I — and millions of others — desperately need something to carry us through what feels like an attack on our very existence.

My baby caught my eye and flashed me a series of extra big smiles on her way out the door and into school. They came from a place of love and hope. She may be worried, but she is not giving up.

May all of us who feel horrified, paralyzed, deeply offended by the results of this election strive to honor this simple lesson as we continue to work for the world we want to be part of. If/when you have it in you, amid your grief, spread some joy where it’s so desperately needed. Let’s work to make love trump hate.