Today this is how safe my family is: My 2-year-old baby girl skips around the house in lime-green underpants, her family cheering every time she succeeds in making pee-pee in the Elmo potty.
This is how sweet our life is: Later, she and my son and his friend take turns stirring a wooden spoon through pumpkin batter, then delightedly lick the yellow bowl clean with their spoons and fingers.
This is how much fun we get to have: Next my husband Sean and I join the kids in hide and seek, taking cover inside the shower curtain, beneath the bedspread, behind closet doors, in a shadowy nook between the foot of a bed and a changing table. There is more than enough space in which to hide in our large suburban home, and we keep all the lights off, occasionally giving a clue to our seekers via whistle or knock. When we’re found, we and our pint-size seekers shriek with mirth.
This is how much love we feel: After our son’s friend leaves and after dinner’s eaten, after bedtime stories and lullabies—“another one, mommy; a longer one”—Sean and I lie prone beside one another in bed and complete a Sunday crossword puzzle in an hour and four minutes. It’s the first crossword we’ve done together in a decade, and this makes it feel intimate; it returns us to the couple we were when we were more present for one another because we did not yet need to be constantly present for our babes, like our daughter who, at 11:12 pm, sits upright between us, swiping hair from her eyes and sucking a pacifier.
This I know: In these Sunday moments nine days into the Trump administration, my family’s lives are still the free and lucky ones we’ve always been graced to know. I’m able to escape the anxious knowledge that moments like these are finite, not because we’re mortal, but because our liberties will be short-lived under Trump. This man and his men, day by day, are taking away life as I’ve always been privileged to know it.
Yes, I also know: The only thing I’ve done to receive this privileged life is be born white and raised Christian and with resources in America. Yes, I know this nation is built on genocide and slavery, and that I’ve only been so free for so long because of the sacrifices of so many others. Because of that, it is also my duty to defend every person’s equal right to a fairer shot at having the same freedoms and opportunities I’ve had. It’s my responsibility to help create a more perfect union.
This is what I’ve done: Two Saturdays ago I walked with women, men and children on a warm and sunny afternoon in Chicago. This past Saturday, Sean drove to the airport to show up beside others holding signs to protest a ban on a whole bloc of people yearning to breathe free. Today I am praying and writing and talking to my kids, husband, family and friends, and voicing my opposition to the un-American orders of this un-American administration. I am trying to think beyond protests and phone calls. I am trying to think strategically. I am trying to channel my fear into action. It is not easy. It is a fight to keep from drowning in the darkness of this man and his men.
This is what more I’ll do, for starters: I’ll teach my children that America isn’t perfect and that it isn’t right that so many people don’t get to share in its promise. I’ll teach them that we can build something better—where more people are free, as we are, to love life and to love this country—and that it starts with me and with them and with each of us individually seeking first to understand those who feel threatened or hurt; who fear for their safety and security and their own ways of life. It starts by reaching out. It starts with considering all the facts and continuing to choose compassion. I’ll teach them to recognize that anyone who tries to wrest from them or others the sanctity of and right to a safe, sweet, free life is an enemy, not only of this country but of humanity. If enemies hold fast to greed and hatred, I will teach my kids to grip more tightly to them the gads of good people who sincerely want to make things better for everyone.
This man and his men cannot ban us all. They cannot obliterate compassion. No matter what, some of us will always continue to care about each other. Together, if we choose love and actively resist hate, we’ll overcome the unthinkably bad. We’ll be more perfect than we ever imagined possible.