This morning when I woke up, I didn’t want to get out of bed. I felt depressed and battle weary for the loss of Hillary Clinton as our next president. I truly believed she would win and support the values I believe in for our country and for my family. I also felt saddened that after all the times I’ve told my girls they can be and do anything, as a country, we showed every woman, there is a limit.
To my surprise, as I made breakfast, my daughter Hazel asked me if Hillary won. I told her no, she did not. Disappointed with a furrowed brow, she asked, “Why?” then proceeded to ask if we could vote again. I told her not yet, but we will vote again in the next election like we always do. And then, despite the sadness I felt, I told her we would be ok and that sometimes people make choices that are different from ours.
To my surprise again, she then asked me who won the election. When I told her Donald Trump won, she said, “No! He was not supposed to win! Donald Trump is not nice. I want Hillary!” I told her, “I know, I do too.” And then she yelled, “But I want the first woman president!” I explained that I do too, but sometimes people aren’t ready for new and exciting things. To which, she reacted in true toddler fashion and started whining, “I want Hillary! I want Hillary” repeatedly.
It took everything in my power to not cry because I felt the same way. What was I to say to my intelligent and abnormally socially conscious little girl? I took a deep breath. I smiled. I looked her in the eyes and proudly reminded her that we are smart, strong, and kind women and we will figure it out. I told her that sometimes people are different from us and they vote differently too, but that’s part of being strong women – we figure out how to deal with it.
When we have tough experiences and face disappointment, that’s what makes us stronger. As strong women, we have a special talent for making it through tough times and it’s times like this: when we feel sad, disappointed and hurt, that we will be stronger. She smiled at me. She seemed to understand. So I said, “Now we just have to figure out how to make our voices heard,” to which, she was satisfied, or she had moved onto something else in her toddler world.
Not long after, Hillary’s concession speech aired. We watched it live, letting both of our girls watch it with us. I’m thankful we did because Clinton’s words were those of a true leader, and a person who respects humanity and values equality. They were the words of a deeply passionate and honorable woman, someone we can all admire and strive to emulate. She captivated us all, with every word, we were with her.
And, then Hillary said something for our Hazel and Lola:
“And to all the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and to achieve your own dreams.”
This speech was important to me because I wanted the 2016 Election to be an empowering and historical moment I could celebrate with my daughters. I’m a feminist and I’m proud of the steps we’ve taken to achieve equality and I hope to teach my girls to be confident and strong each day. Yesterday, I took them to the polls, we read girl power books, and I reminded them they could be and do anything they wanted. We laughed as we imagined all of the amazing (and silly!) things we could be.
Yet, when Hillary lost the election my heart broke. I was excited to be teaching my girls about feminism while sharing in this historical moment even though they are so young. But the truth is, like I told Hazel this morning, strong women are able to endure, persevere and to find another way. And as I watched one of the strongest women I’ve ever seen, give one of the hardest and most eloquent speeches, I thought, that’s a lesson I can teach: Stand with strength and integrity, even in defeat. And never stop fighting for what you believe.