An Open Letter to My Boys

Children…ever the one to find another teaching moment, I cannot let social media, your friends or even your teachers weigh in on something so significant and truly life-changing without adding my 2 (teaching) cents.

Last night, I asked Jon to stop telling me about the results as they came in because a) they were really upsetting and b) surely the “important” States would come in later and I (and you) would wake up and it would all be “ok”. But at 4:45 am when I woke up, all was not ok. A true monster was now the elected leader of the free world. 

I will not repeat the “facts” as you can read them on social media or watch them on the news. However, my advice to you kids is to watch and read with a critical eye, arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible and ask questions and then, ask more questions. So here, in my letter to you, all I can tell you is how the last 24 hours changed my life (and I guess by association, yours). 

Like literally millions of people around the world, I am in shock. You saw the debates, the interviews, the memes, the news over the last few months. Donald Trump is the worst of the worst and somehow, despite all of that, and who is a person who I would not in a million years even invite for dinner, is the going to be the leader of the free world. 

As you know, I have been apolitical my whole life. I am not proud of it but I won’t deny it. I truly think it’s based on two realities. One, I (we) live in a county that is fairly stable politically and I have always felt that my one vote would not have much (if any) effect on the outcome. And I write this being very ashamed. I have been the person who does not vote but who does not complain, and somehow I justified to myself that that was ok. But in the last 24 hours, I am woken up to the stark and haunting reality that that is not ok. Again, I am ashamed of my rationalizing thoughts but I think living in Canada, with the political process the way it is and the political parties the way they are, I allowed myself the “out” to call myself “apolitical”. After last night, I am forever changed. To be honest, I don't think Canadians would EVER let it get to a point where someone like Donald Trump would be in the running for a major political office but I also realize that if I don't exercise my right to vote, I am not only allowing for that possibility, but I am also putting my friends and family at risk of that happening. And you my loves, are too important to ever let that kind of nightmare become a reality. So I pledge to you, to my country, and to myself, that I will forever vote in every election, from municipal to federal, with insight, education and a belief that my one vote can make a difference.

And then there’s the other issue about being a woman and a mom and the devastating reality which we now face. And you might say, “well we’re boys so a woman not becoming President is not that big of a deal” (although I don’t think you would say or even think that). I don't consider myself a feminist. I am a woman, a mother, a daughter, a wife and a girlfriend, but I haven’t traditionally defined myself by my gender. And like my stance on politics, and again I am not proud of this thinking (or probably not thinking), maybe this has been because I have had a pretty good life where my gender has not affected (at least overtly) any significant life outcomes.

No more. As a mother and as a woman, it is my duty to tell you, to teach you, to show you, that women, that people, that every living creature deserves compassion and respect. The silly jokes that we hear on TV or read on social media aren’t so silly anymore. Millions of people voted for a man who values one gender less than the other, who devalues people of colour or certain classes (the list goes on). That is not ok. That will never be ok. If I do anything in this world, it is to lead by example to show you that not only do women deserve your utmost respect but that it is due to every single person you meet. You have the ability and unbelievably huge privilege to change peoples’ lives - don’t ever EVER take that for granted and please please please always act with kindness and respect in your heart. There is a great quote that I often see on social media … to paraphrase … it talks about not being proud of your children for the marks they get in school but of being proud of them for sitting beside the kid who is eating alone in the lunchroom. So while I will cheer you on and brag about your every accomplishment, whether academic or athletic, I will applaud louder and my heart will explode with pride when you treat others… women, people of difference races, people who are disabled, animals, everyone …with respect and kindness and compassion. That is how I will measure my worth as a parent and how you should measure yours as a human. 

I am sorry you have witnessed (and maybe you don't even realize the impact at your young age) the world turning on its head. It is a truly terrible thing. But I can only hope that we, as a family, can learn from this, not take our rights and situations for granted and help be leaders in our community. Be the one who sits with the lonely kid at lunch, help an old lady across the street, make friends with as many people as possible and be that kid who everyone says, before they talk about your brains or athletic abilities, how kind and generous you are.

You guys joke that I pride myself on being a “proud Jewish mother.” I do. But today, I am not only that, I am also a “proud Canadian woman.”