I’ve had so many thoughts and emotions flying around my head the past several months and I wasn’t sure I was going to write about it. But whatever- if you can’t express yourself on your own blog what’s the point?
If you’ve been following ThisIrishFamily for any time you know that 3/5 of us are American. ThisIrishGirl and ThisIrishBoy have the unique experience of dual citizenship by birth. And since their birth we have strived hard to be sure they identify as both Irish and American. We combine both cultures in pretty much everything we do.
Despite over 12 years living as an expat in Ireland I continue to have strong ties with America and identify as American. This means that this past November I too cast my ballot and watched along closely to the US Presidential election.
I spent a very sleepless night November 8th watching the US news and keeping up with friends back home via social media and WhatsApp. And as night slipped into morning here I wept.
With the dawn ThisIrishGirl ran into our bedroom asking “Did she win? Did she win?” You see in our house we for weeks we had been talking about how our behaviour is viewed by others and there was no better teaching than the US election. ThisIrishGirl was very clear who was better behaved.
“Did she win? Did she win?”
I scooped her up in my arms and under the duvet and told ThisIrishGirl that no, she did not win.
For the first time I felt the great sadness and concern that hasn’t left me since. In that moment I very seriously questioned what kind of world my darling girl would grow up in. And again I cried.
Life went on and we went about our day here. I did my best not to engage in US election talk at work, or at least get wrapped up in the emotion of it all. After all this would effect the entire world so of course every Irish person had an opinion. I just wasn’t ready to talk about it. I grappled with the mixed emotions of wanting to be at home in NY and feeling glad that there was an ocean between us.
Over dinner that night, both ThisIrishGirl and ThisIrishBoy had their own thoughts on “Donald Duck” (at 3 we had to clarify some things for ThisIrishBoy).
Both children were adamant in their disdain for the President Elect.
In their innocent 3 and 6 year old minds, fair questions were being asked. ‘Why build a wall if those people need help?’ ‘Why does he always shout and talk angry to others?’ Tough questions that deserved honest answers.
But I am an American and grew up with the value that the American Presidency is to be respected. So I firmly explained that while we didn’t agree with much of what the President Elect valued we as a family would respect him as our President come January.
It’s January now.
It’s January now and a BIG part of me wishes I never had told the kids they needed to respect the President Elect. For the past two months we have watched as the President Elect has consistently acted in a manner that shows a blatant disregard and disrespect of the very values we are raising our kids to hold sacred:
Be kind always.
Be gracious when you are wrong.
Be thankful for all you have and do what you can for those who are less fortunate.
Education is important.
Be honest in your words and actions.
Think before you act.
How can I as a parent in one breath expect the above from my children and in the next honour a man who’s behaviour is in direct contradiction?
I’m not sure I can.
While I have always been proud to identify as an American and will continue to do so, now more than ever I will focus on being a PARENT.
I will put all my efforts on ensuring my children witness daily acts of kindness and acceptance.
They will see us embrace diversity and respect others.
We will continue to set examples of love, honesty and fairness.
We will teach them daily right from wrong.
We will make them feel safe, valued and loved.
And if every parent across the world does the same then I have great great hope in our future.
And to you Mr. President, the children are watching, the world is watching and we are all hoping.