an inauguration invite explained

I’ve struggled to watch the news lately.  My stomach turning at every tweet and retweet of our incoming President.  I’m saddened by his fundamental misunderstanding of our foreign policy, and his flippant disregard for decades of diplomacy.

Like many women, I regard him as misogynist; however, I don’t so much think of him as racist – as misinformed.  Profoundly disrespectful and careless with his words.   I have no illusions that he will change when he takes the  White House, but I have a small degree of hope that the selfish dedication of the political servants, diplomats and military; and the largess of the job of the Presidency will lessen his selfish ambition.

It is from this vantage point that I stood when my husband called and said, “Do you want to fly back to Virginia to the inauguration?  I have been offered tickets.”

innaguration

Now, for most of you out there the answer is probably easy.  An easy yes or an easy no.  Either you can stand on your pedestal and claim you would never go and support this new President.  Sure, I get it.  The view is pretty nice up there on the high road.   Others of you, whether you voted or him or not, would jump at the idea of attending an inauguration.  I wouldn’t fault you for that either. For many of us, it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Me, I’m somewhere in the middle.

A few nights ago we watched the movie Selma.  It was my first time watching the history of MLKs march between Selma and Montgomery.  It’s a remarkable movie and I recommend it.   The most interesting part was the relationship between Lyndon B Johnson and MLK.   Before MLK walked on Selma, he approached LBJ more than a few times – pushing him towards the voting rights act.  LBJ knew it was the right thing to do, but – as politics goes – had other priorities at the time.  He also knew it would use up a large amount of political capital.  So MLK took to the streets to protest.  He raised awareness, and forced LBJ’s hand.  A few years later, we had the voting rights act of 1965.

Now, I’m not going to claim that Trump and LBJ are similar. To start, LBJ was a progressive, and MLK and LBJ ultimately had similar visions for the country.  They just didn’t agree on the methods and timeline by which it would be achieved.  MLK didn’t simply protest.  He sought to persuade the President to his vision; and when he couldn’t, he worked other means.  Many of us do not share most of Trump’s vision for our country.  However, I don’t believe that the solution is to simply protest, (or rant and rave on social media).

It is childish and ineffective to claim that Trump is not my President and to shake our fist at every move this government makes.  This is our Government, and this high office deserves our respect, regardless of our vote.  If we want change, we need to work with and through our government.   I was reminded of this much last night.  As our outgoing President said so eloquently in his last speech:

Our founders argued, they quarreled, and eventually they compromised. They expected us to do the same. But they knew that democracy does require a basic sense of solidarity. The idea that, for all our outward differences, we’re all in this together, that we rise or fall as one….

Citizen. So, you see, that’s what our democracy demands. It needs you. Not just when there’s an election, not just when you own narrow interest is at stake, but over the full span of a lifetime. If you’re tired of arguing with strangers on the Internet, try talking with one of them in real life.

Show up, dive in, stay at it. Sometimes you’ll win, sometimes you’ll lose. Presuming a reservoir in goodness, that can be a risk. And there will be times when the process will disappoint you. But for those of us fortunate enough to have been part of this one and to see it up close, let me tell you, it can energize and inspire. 

The central problem in Washington DC the last 15 years is the intransigence of its people.  Many Americans (including myself) feel lost in a battle between extremes of the left and the right.   And I – for one – will not contribute to that problem.   I may not agree with most of what Trump says, but I do believe that most of the people who go to Washington to serve do so with some sort of honorable duty.  They have a desire to help.  If you haven’t heard of it, become familiar with an organization called No Labels (https://www.nolabels.org).  They are doing their best to try to fix Washington’s problems, without partisanship.   If you are frustrated, sign up.  Learn about it. Be a constructive part of the solution.

So when my husband called and asked if I would go celebrate this incoming President, whom I did not vote for, and whose policies I generally do not support, I said yes.   Yes because despite what I believe about him personally; I do believe that he wants what’s best for America.  Yes because I believe in the Greatness in our Democratic Project.  Yes because I believe we need to do a better job of understanding and not judging or assuming.  And yes, because we all need to participate to move us forward.

 

 

 

on how to raise the mysterious middle child

When we welcomed our third baby into the world two months ago, we finally became outnumbered by our children.  But probably more importantly, C. went from our baby to our middle child.   And I’ve spent the last two months trying to decide which event has rocked our house more.

Man, oh man. Middle children are no joke, and I can’t seem to find a good parenting blueprint for how to help her and me.  So here is mine, for anyone who is trying to parent a middle child, or deciding to have one.

The paradox of the middle child is that they are so influenced by their older sibling.   In our case, our first-born patrols the whole house like a military trooper.  A. regularly tells C. to go into “time out” for straying from the rules;  unloads the dishwasher and cleans up her play space, and routinely breastfeeds, dresses and bathes her dolls.

In all honesty, our first-born is a better version of her mother.  Yes, me.

So our mysterious middle child is naturally the opposite of our first-born: funny, mischievous, sweet and wholly disobedient.   In one hour, she will ask thirty or more times if she can have a snack, or watch TV, or wear her favorite dress – completely ignoring my “no”, or any variation thereof.    She doesn’t like rules, or being told what to do.   C. will have us laughing one minute and the next minute cutting her sister’s hair with kitchen sheers.   C. is mix of personalities, because of the simple fact she is very influenced by her older sister.

According to most experts, middle children get (sadly) less attention – in both life and research.   This is partially due to the fact that of all the birth order positions, “middlessness” is the most difficult to define.   Middle children were born too late to get the special treatment of first borns, but too early to have the benefit that last borns enjoy – having parents lighten up on discipline.  Middles’ temperament is also highly influenced by their gender, and their siblings gender, as well as how many years separate them.

Middle children can – quite simply – can get lost in the fray.

middle child mischief

middle child mischief

So, if you are thinking of turning your baby into a middle child, I have some advice.

1) Spend quality one-on-one time.  Middle children will rarely ask for it, but they need quality individual attention.  C. thrives when I spend time with her alone.  Her tantrums subside and she listens to my rules.  In return for my undivided (and technology free) time, she gives me her happy, funny personality.

2) Take pictures.  A few weeks ago my mother told me that she had hundreds of pictures of A, a bunch of pictures of C. and no pictures of the new baby.  It’s hard. I get it. But snap a few of just the younger kids alone.  It will be worth it at their wedding for the embarrassing slide-shows.

3) Not everything is for sharing.  This past winter we went to Disneyworld.  We bought each girl a present, and C. picked out a big stuffed animal “Lady”.  She loves this thing.  She drags this thing everywhere.  So “Lady” is for C. alone – no sibling sharing.   Similarly, while hand-me-downs are a beautiful thing, C. deserves some new clothes, too.   Not everything is for sharing.

4) Notice them amongst the chaos.  At least a few times a day, C. yells at the top of her lungs, “LOOK AT MEEEEE!!!”  I resist the urge to say “Inside voice!” and instead say, “Yes, C. what a nice dress!”  Middle children often go to the extreme to get attention, which in our case is why C. often yells inside.  So put the baby down, and find the positive in what they are doing.

And if nothing else, consider this.  Perhaps the grit and determination of the middle child leads to great success later in life.  After all the tantrums, the chaos, and the sibling rivalries, the middle-children are the best children at finding their voice and individuality.

After all, Donald Trump is a middle child.