A few hours ago many of us were huddled around our devices, trying to find comfort or at least connection after the election results came clear.
Several of my friends posted an article from a well-known source who advised us to tell our children, “We will protect them.”
I’ve been parenting long enough and through enough difficulties to know I cannot honestly say I can protect my children. I haven’t been able to protect them so far.
Two of the three of my children have had unspeakable acts occur to them while at school. One of my children was urinated on by a peer, for example. Another child was repeatedly humiliated and called crazy by a counselor. On another occasion I had to literally bend my knee and clasp my hands in a prayer pose to beg a teacher to stop behaving aggressively toward my child.
I cannot protect my child.
I can love my child and stand with my child when she or he experiences the unthinkable. I can listen. I can create a safe space for self-expression.
Samuel stood at my bedroom door at 11:45 last night. I rested in bed, pretending to be asleep as I had been for the last two-and-a-half-hours. I heard sirens and a helicopter overhead. These sounds of unrest mimicked what my heart and gut felt like.
“Samuel? What’s up?” I asked him.
“Do you know who won the Presidential election?” was his question in return. While I didn’t know the answer, I had felt it in my core since I placed my vote at 6:10 pm and tears flooded my eyes, feeling that emptiness begin taking root in my belly.
“No.” I answered.
“I guess you’ll find out when you wake up,” he said as he turned and walked back to his bedroom.
An hour later it was my turn to stand by his door, speaking.
“Samuel, why are you still awake?”
“I’m watching, about the election.”
I hesitated, choosing my words with caution. “How do you feel about what happened?”
“I don’t know.” He is always honest, my son.
“I don’t know how to feel either,” I told him. “I do know that you should get some sleep. I do know we will be all right in the long run. Please turn your light off and go to bed. I’m going to sit on the porch for a little while.”
I walked to my porch and sat in my trusty red rocking chair, usually a favored morning spot.
I looked up at the sky, not able to have even the softest conversation toward heaven. I silently looked at the stars, recognizing their sameness from last night and the night before. When I was pregnant with Samuel I used to lie on my front lawn, looking up at these same stars feeling a similar hopeless emptiness. Circumstances weren't optimal for us then, either, in those last seasons before September, 2001.
When I went back inside, Samuel’s light was still on but he had stopped watching the news. “You should try to sleep, Samuel. That’s what I am going to do.”
“All right,” he said.
“See you in the morning.”
I waited another hour before sending text messages to his older sisters who live on the East Coast. I waited another hour before deciding my continued attempts at sleep would most likely be unproductive until I spent some time with words, with my keyboard, attempting to make some semblance of meaning around what just happened.
Words have been my constant since I was four years old when I started writing cursive “e’s” across the page, not able to translate my own attraction to language. I trusted the movement of the pencil or crayon across the page. Later, still pre-literate, I would dictate to my mother whose words I would then copy onto construction paper with crayon.
I asked my mother to send these letters to the appropriate party be it Santa or my Granny or I can’t remember who else. I knew then as I know now expressing myself honestly with words invokes healing or at least the earliest inkling of understanding.
While I appreciate the entirety of the message from this earnest writer from this famous publication, I still sit numb and unable to nod in agreement no matter how much I wish I could.
I understand the call to use words to create love and reassurance or else I wouldn't still be here, typing.
I cannot protect my children.
I cannot make promises to them on behalf of democracy as much as I would like to – it wouldn’t be honest.
I do know I will love them and stand with them. I will write to create connections, to forge hope and love in spite of what barriers we may face along the way. I will bravely speak even when afraid, like right now.
I think that’s what Samuel was looking for when he came to my door and what he was waiting for before he finally turned off his light and climbed into bed. He wanted to hear my voice, speaking to him directly, saying anything.
He needed to hear my voice saying “I am with you. I love you.”
I hear a rooster crowing in the distance. It is 3:20 am and I realize now I never ate dinner as hunger makes herself known. I hear a train whistle, always reminding me of my grandfather sounds and sounds again. “You are not alone,” it says.
In a few hours the sun will rise. I will make coffee and pour myself a bowl of cereal and maybe eat some yogurt. I will probably drive Samuel to school. I wish I could protect him from the rhetoric and boasting and ugliness he will likely hear throughout the day.
I cannot. I will be here when he gets home. I will speak, I will listen, I will love.
Things will take on a different semblance of normal.
Julie Jordan Scott is the mother to three children. She inspires people to experience artistic rebirth via her programs, playshops, books, performances and simply being herself out in the world. She is a writer, creative life coach, speaker, performance poet, Mommy-extraordinaire and mixed media artist whose Writing Camps and Writing Playgrounds permanently transform people's creative lives. Watch for the announcement of new programs coming in soon!
To contact Julie to schedule a Writing or Creative Life Coaching Session, call or text her at 661.444.2735.
Check out the links below to follow her on a bunch of different social media channels, especially if you find the idea of a Word-Love Party bus particularly enticing.
Please stay in touch: Follow me on Twitter: @JulieJordanScot
Be sure to "Like" WritingCampwithJJS on Facebook. (Thank you!)