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Parents

Dear Daughters: I Am So Very Sorry

I’m sorry that we don’t have our first woman president, and I’m even more sorry that the one we do have is a man who doesn’t respect women.

Oh, my sweet, beautiful girls.

How I want you to live in a world where you feel safe, where you feel valued, where you don’t feel diminished or sexualized or disrespected. How I want you to live in a world where kindness and oneness overcomes ignorance and hatred.

I am so sorry. I am sorry that we cried together in bed this morning. I wanted us to be crying tears of joy that you didn’t understand, but would someday, because you had witnessed history. Because a woman can be president.

And our country let you down. Its women did. Its men did. Instead of choosing the most qualified candidate, a woman, we chose a laughingstock of a puppet, a hateful, ignorant man who will go down in history for all the wrong reasons.

I’m sorry I gave you hope. I’m sorry I believed our country was better, that our time had come. I’m sorry I told you that I believed she would win, that he never could, that he was terrible and unqualified. I’m sorry I showed my hand. This morning, many people have admonished parents like me whose children are anxious, grieving, angry. They tell us that this is not our children’s business, that we should protect them from it. I couldn’t agree more. But it’s too late for that.

Girls, I’m sorry that you heard at school that Hillary is a liar. I’m sorry you heard that Trump would start a war, and build a wall, that he doesn’t respect women, that he mocks people with disabilities. I was able to dispel some of your worries, but how can I blatantly lie to you about the vile character of the man who now leads our country?

And even if I did? You see right through me. You feel my fear, my rage, my disgust. I cannot hide from you, even though I try.

So yes, I wanted to protect you from knowing what is really happening in our country. But I can’t. And I’m sorry. It’s too late, you already know too much. I’m sorry I couldn’t have had a better poker face, to have assured you that either candidate would be just fine.

But I can’t lie to you like that. And you need to see that I am sad, that I am grieving, and angry. You need me to remind you that our job now is to spread light and love, to stand up for fairness and equality, not to succumb to fear.

You are five and ten years old today. I’m sorry you’re not younger, so you wouldn’t have heard about the election at school. I’m sorry you’re not older, so we could talk in less simplified ways. I’m sorry we didn’t get to cheer together this morning when I told you the good news. It’s how I pictured it. It’s what I wanted for you, for me, for all women, and for our angry, broken, frightened country. I’m sorry I had to explain to you that unjust things happen, that sometimes the wrong candidate is elected. I’m sorry I had to try to clumsily explain about checks and balances, and no, Trump wouldn’t be allowed to hurt anyone.

I’m sorry that we don’t have our first woman president, and I’m even more sorry that the one we do have is a man who doesn’t respect women, one who defiles them, grabs them, demeans them. I’m so, so fucking sorry. I’m sorry that I don’t know how to navigate this; I don’t know how to have a president that I don’t respect. I’ve disliked presidents before, but this is different. And I don’t know how to model this for you.

I’m sorry I couldn’t stop crying when I told you that our job now is to see the good and be the good in our world. I am trying so hard to be strong for you. I’m so sorry you are truly anxious about walls being built and wars beginning. When I promised you your life wouldn’t change you looked right into my eyes and said, “But other people’s lives will change, won’t they?” And I didn’t know what to say.

Today I thought of you as I played our favorite song, “Try Everything,” while I was teaching, and I sang along with twenty innocent, earnest kindergarten students in music class.

“I won’t give up, no I won’t give in, til I reach the end, and then I’ll start again . . .”

Their teacher and I locked eyes and hearts and sang with lumps in our throats and I thought of you, and how I promised you a pajama dance party tonight. We will dance, and we will hold each other. We will mourn and we will be strong.

My babies, my girls, my incredible strong daughters, I promise to protect you. I promise to teach you. I promise to hold you if you are scared and need to cry. I am so sorry the country let you down today. We will keep fighting for what we know is right. As I reminded you before I put you on the school bus today, we are surrounded by people who believe in love and goodness, like we do.

Your uncle shared this quote with me that has helped me through my morning:

“I agree with you wholeheartedly that things are not as we would like them to be. However, my feeling is that there is only one way to deal with it, namely, to be alright with oneself and to try to create around one at least a small circle where matters are arranged as one wants them to be.”

Anna Freud, age 85, responding in a letter to a man lamenting the state of the world.

We will make things right in our small circle. And our small circle is larger than you think. We will fill it with love and light and yes, tears and anger and determination. Our circle is strong; never forget that.

**If you need a resource for what to say to your children who are grieving, frightened, or confused, I loved this article on Huffington Post today: “What Do We Tell The Children?”” target=”_blank”>“What Do We Tell The Children?”

This post originally appeared on Mommy, for Real. Connect with Stephanie on Facebook.