Monday, September 26, 2016

First Person

Things that I expect in my mailbox (in no order):

The Shopper Stopper
Special offers for AAA members
'or Current Resident'
Solicitations for Money
The New Yorker
AARP applications
The magazine I work for

Things I do not expect in my mailbox:
Actual correspondence from the next president of the United States, addressed to my 7-year-old daughter.

I wrote Hillary Clinton on a lark. 

My daughter, a few months ago, declared at the dinner table, "I want to change my name to LILLARY." Me: "Why, hon?" Her: "So I can be president of the United States." 

Both of my kids are seriously thoughtful, funny kids. (I know, I'm biased). But as a writer, I do think that the way their minds work is fascinating. The words they choose to express their thinking, surprising. Their sense of justice and fairness, admirable. 

I mostly thought what the heck-- I thought this was funny, why wouldn't a Hillary staffer? Poor things. It's probably some intern who is sitting in a windowless basement, forced to read all the crazy pants stuff that people write to Hillary from her web site. Maybe I could give them a chuckle. Or maybe they could feel inspired, as my daughter obviously did, by this woman who is the first female major party nominee for President of the United States.

Fast forward to last Thursday. Mailbox open. No spiders (thank GOD! I mean, I appreciate them eating bugs and all, but I don't really want to touch one). Shopper Stopper? Check. And nestled into its nest of newspaper-print want ads and offers, a slim envelope with a red arrow. A letter. A letter addressed to Lilly.

I'm kind of a ninny and, at 42, I really don't care who knows it. I'm the person who signs petitions about endangered animals. I care deeply about issues, and about fairness, about the poor, the underserved, I care about gun sense laws that we can all agree on. So I get a fair number of form letters from my legislators about the issues I've written that I was a bit skeptical that this was something real.

But OH MY GOD. It was real. It was realer than real. And it was written for my daughter. Very specifically my daughter. 

If you're reading this, you probably know most of the rest of the story. I'm not here to retell it. What I am here to do is to say THANK YOU in this day of trolls and cynicism and sexism and racism and anxiety for reading those words in the letter. If you feel unhinged (like I feel right now), read them. Replace my daughter's name with your daughter's name, or your OWN name. 

We need to hear these words, and we need to speak them. As one of my idols, Glennon Doyle Melton says, "There is no such thing as other people's children." We are all a part of this one thing-- this life, and we need to show up and stand up for each other. We need to encourage each other's voices, we need to hold each other's hands. We need to read and write each other's stories, and our OWN stories. 

Let's write our own history. Together. Now. Forget the haters. Come sit by us. There's room on the bench right here. There's room for humanity, there's room for love and respect. We make it. 

"If the space you're in doesn't have room for your voice, don't be afraid to carve out a space of your own."

With love and peace, 


stiaden said...

I saw this on scary mommy and I have to tell you it made me cry. That letter she sent was amazing and articulated so much of what it is like to live as a woman in our society. I'm an engineer and I struggle to have my voice heard as well and I'm so proud to vote for her now. I was always going to vote for her, but I didn't feel paticularly enthused and couldn't see exactly what type of person she was. This and stories like these have strengthened my position and feelings and I will now vote with joy. Thank you so much for sharing this. I have a "Lilly" as well and would love for her to see a woman as president, so she knows she can really achieve anything she wants in life.


Christina said...

What a wonderful letter for your daughter to have received. Thank you so much for sharing the message so that we can all share it with our kids.