The View From Here: February 2017

Dear Future Grown Child,

Dad wrote you a letter last July, as the 2016 presidential campaign was just starting to really pick up steam. It’s now late February 2017. The election has come and gone and we’re sitting in a very different place than we expected to be.

By the time you’re old enough to read this and appreciate it, I’m sure that you’ll know that life isn’t always easy. I’m sure you’ll be bored of me telling stories about the past and urging you to read more history books. I’m sure that this particular moment will seem, even in the retrospect of your short life, ancient history. But for us right now living through the early days of the Trump presidency, it’s hard to imagine what that future will look like.

You won’t be surprised to hear that our house, that little bungalow that we lived in when you were first born, was full of people on the night of November 8, 2016. The mood was cautiously celebratory at first. There were several bottles of champagne in the fridge and your dad had insisted on using the laser holiday lights to stream red, white, and blue stars on the front of the house.

As the results came in, though, it started to feel less and less celebratory. I tried to stay optimistic, frantically talking with people and texting with friends about how Clinton couldn’t possibly lose Pennsylvania and Michigan and Wisconsin. That there was no way the country would actually elect Donald Trump as president. But then the reality started to sink in. Donald Trump would be the 45th President of the United States.

It’s safe to say that everyone was in shock. Several people were crying. Dad was going back and forth between wanting everyone to leave and wanting everyone to stay. The last few folks left a little after 1:00 am after we’d watched Trump give his victory speech. In truth, he seemed as shocked as everyone else was.

We didn’t sleep very much that night. Getting out of bed the next morning was difficult. I couldn’t imagine how I was going to go into work and face people all day. Somehow I did, though. And somehow I’ve continued to do so every day since then.

We had some serious conversations following the election about whether or not we wanted to move forward with starting a family. How could we possibly bring a child into such an uncertain world? If Trump pursued even half of the policies that he’d talked about during the campaign, what would the world even look like in five or ten years? But we realized that there was never going to be a perfect time to start a family and to raise a child. All over the world, babies are born and families are started in the most desperate of circumstances. In comparison, we live in relative comfort and stability. And the more we talked, we came to the conclusion that we couldn’t NOT have a baby. When we looked around the world, it seemed like the world needed more love, compassion, and empathy. I hope that we’ve raised you to share those qualities with the world in abundance.

In a way, it almost feels like we’re placing such a great burden on you. As I write this, you’ve not even been conceived yet. We haven’t yet met your Bio Mom or your Belly Mama, but here I am writing a letter to your future self, hoping that everything turns out okay, and that through living your life, through simply existing, you will make the world a better place. But, I guess this is just a version of what all parents do. All parents want the world to be a better place for their children. All parents want their children to succeed and flourish. All parents hope that their children will bring change in places that they themselves haven’t succeeded in changing.

So, I hope that you don’t grow up with a weight on your shoulders from the accumulated hopes and dreams of your parents. Rather, I hope that you grow up to understand that we believe that we all have a part to play in helping to make the world a better place through the way that we live our lives. I hope instead of a weight that this letter, and other letters like it, and your experience growing up and becoming your own person, act as a guide, as a signpost on your journey. I hope that they help you to understand how deeply we love you, even when you were yet an idea. I hope that instead of a weight, you feel love and support.

Right now, in February 2017, just the idea of your future existence is giving both me and Dad so much support and so much incentive to fight for a better future and a better world for you to be born into.