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When a Mom Votes Blue in a Red State

Photograph by Mary Sauer

Last night, my husband woke me just after midnight so I could feed our youngest child. I had fallen asleep, too emotionally exhausted to keep watching election coverage and I was honestly terrified to ask about the outcome.

When he broke the news to me that Donald Trump is our next president, neither of us had much of anything to say. We just looked at each other and then I turned to feed my baby. I swaddled him and rocked him back to sleep. The whole time my mind racing with fear of what is next.

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After he was asleep, I found myself drawn to my daughters’ room. I pulled their blankets back over them and tucked them in. I sat with my oldest while she slept and watched my middle daughter toss back and forth in her bed across the room and I cried. I wanted my girls to wake to a world where women can do anything. I wanted them to wake to a promise of a better future. Instead, they woke to a world that is still governed by fear, a country where people put their own selfish interests before the greater good.

I can’t understand the motivation behind the votes of countless parents and grandparents in my state.

This morning, I woke up in shock. I honestly can’t believe that Trump won, that so many in our country believe that he is the best option for our country over a woman with decades of political experience. I didn’t expect this outcome.

The outcome I did expect has been the hardest one to cope with. I expected Trump to win in my state of Missouri. Ever since I was old enough to vote, I have been a blue voter living in a red state. I wasn’t surprised by his win, but I still find myself overwhelmed by that fact that I live somewhere that appears to be driven by hate, fear and greed. I can’t wrap my mind around it, I can’t understand the motivation behind the votes of countless parents and grandparents in my state.

As someone who typically votes democrat, this has always been a tricky place to live, especially since I grew up in the evangelical tradition where conservative voting is often treated as required by our faith. Choosing to vote for Hillary wasn’t easy, not because I didn’t believe she was qualified, but because I knew just how unpopular my choice would be.

Now that she has lost, I honestly feel so frustrated by my home state but I also know that eventually I will have to move on. Tomorrow, or maybe next week, I have to pick myself up and try to figure out how I move forward in relationship with friends and family who live and feel so differently than me. I’ve always felt comfortable keeping an open mind, allowing the people around me to form their own opinions, but this election feels like a step too far. Today, as a mom of daughters, I feel hurt that the people I see each day chose a man who trivializes sexual assault to lead our country. I can only imagine how betrayed my friends of color feel, as they should, knowing their country has failed once again to provide them with a safe place to live their lives.

In a country that is failing our children, we are tasked with standing in the gap.

Today, I feel selfishly grateful that my children are so young. I feel relief that I didn’t have to get up this morning and explain to them the choices our country is making right now. One day soon, I won’t be so lucky. My oldest is nearing school age and it won’t be long until she starts to learn about our future president and why he is so popular in our home state. I know that part of my job as her mom is to talk with her about it first, to tell her the truth about how so many of the people in our country feel about people who are different, and I hate that this is a conversation we have to have.

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As I go about my day today, dressing my children, tidying my house and cooking lunch, I feel overcome with the gravity of what we do each day as parents. In a country that is failing our children, we are tasked with standing in the gap. We have the job of raising them to do better than we are doing right now. Each interaction we have with them is a chance to point them down a path of love, compassion and hope or to further add to a toxic culture of fear and greed. It is so, so important that we stop failing them, that we teach them to be better. Today, as I grieve for our country, I find hope in knowing that I am making a difference, no matter how small, in the lives of my children. I'll move forward with that as my motivation, hoping one day they make a difference in their world.

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