I hate being the bad guy. But no matter what I do, there it is. It follows me. Sticks to my shoe like week-old gum, which, even though I've scraped it out with a bamboo skewer, still stubbornly connects with the floor, then lingers for a fraction of a second, holding me back. When I try to run from it, it becomes my shadow, just as fast as I am, but skinnier.
I could blame my kids. The four of them have made my life into an endless series of responsibilities that pursue me even in sleep. I bolt up at 3 a.m., unable to remember if I've filled out the latest form, sent in the appropriate check, without which my child will never get into Princeton. And while I'm up, did I remember to call the plumber about that leak?
But these are grown-up problems, not mom-specific problems. At least not in my house. We share those kinds of responsibilities. So why is it that on a Sunday morning, when my husband suggests we go on an outing as a family, I'm still the bad guy? I point out that the kids have homework to finish, that there's laundry to be done. That the day he has planned includes a set of activities that could only be accomplished if we had a helicopter. And a time machine.
And they all look at me like, 'Dude, chill, it'll all work out. We can do our homework some other time. And we don't mind getting home at 11. We promise we'll go right to bed. And we totally won't start complaining we're hungry after ten minutes in the car, and no one will say that the museum is boring and it's too hot at the beach. Just relax. Dream with us. Don't be such a bummer.'
And there are times when I wish I could dream like that, lofty dreams with no boundaries. But early on, the practical questions started creeping in. How can we DO that exactly? How much will it cost? How much time do we have?
I don't think the tendency to be practical is an inherently female quality. Likely it is socialized in such an imperceptible way that I'm passing it on to my own daughters without even realizing it. But because it is viewed by society as something women do, it is less prized.
'Don't bore me with the details.' 'You're such a buzzkill.' 'You sound just like my mother.' 'Stop nagging, Hillary.'
That's right. Our national political circus is about liberalism and conservatism, to be sure, but it's also about tactics. Bernie Sanders is inspiring to people in part because he articulates a vision of a utopian future that is appealing no matter what side of the aisle you sit on. A future where small business owners happily hand their employees $25 per hour because they are flush with cash, having sent their kids to college for free, and paid 50 percent less for their healthcare. And all of it paid for by wealthy investment bankers who were unable to find a way to influence the congressional vote on raising their taxes to post WWII levels. A mythical bill-passing consensus-achieving Congress.
And then comes Hillary Clinton. And she says, just like I think when I hear his dreamy plans, now let's talk about the real world. And it's so annoying, your mom waking you up for school too early just when the dream was getting good.
Look, I want things to happen fast and I don't want to compromise, and I want to get everything I dream about. Who wouldn't? But grownups, whether they're young or old, know that in the real world, dreams only get realized with planning, and hard work and setting realistic goals and all that unpleasant sounding stuff. It's a hard slog and sometimes it takes years, and sometimes we lose. And we have to get up the next morning ready to fight another day.
It all sounds less glamorous than a revolution. But as those who have fought one can tell you, even a revolution is less glamorous than a 'Revolution.' It's important to dream big. There's magic in those dreams. And, as lots of women (and men) who have spent years accomplishing goals and fighting for change would remind you, there's magic, and progress, in the details as well.