I'll admit it. I had become a little lethargic in what was once best described as a red-hot, pants on fire, fever-pitched, burning desire to see a woman elected president. Part of the problem is that I had let myself hope with Hillary. I held off as long as possible. But during the many long months leading up to the Democratic nomination in 2008, hope was percolating. Like a slow-brewing coffee, first bubbling in my toes, over time rising up until I could feel it burning in my belly, until finally, with reckless abandon, I let the sweet aroma of full-fledged anticipation flood my senses. This is really, actually, finally, going to happen. I believed it. And I remember like it was yesterday, the cautious worry that ballooned into heart-wringing devastation when Obama's stock began to rise, ultimately snagging the position that many believed was hers for the taking.
But this isn't about Hillary or even President Obama. Full disclosure, I blubbered like a baby during his swearing in ceremony. During the years of his presidency, I was understandably distracted by the issues of the day. I forgave and forgot. I even grew to accept -- nay admire -- Hillary's silver-medal finish as Secretary of State, a consolation prize I had initially and irritably hoped she'd decline. It was back to life as usual, and I just can't deny it. I got... lazy. I was tired at the prospect of ever feeling that hope again.
But I can't be tired any more. None of us can.
I know that now, because since 2008, I've had two daughters. Two young girls, growing up in an era where they are wholly accustomed to working mothers and women routinely performing all manner of jobs that were significantly male dominated a few short decades ago. Unlike when I was their age, they do not hear the term "glass ceiling" passed like rolls at the dinner table. Instead of glass, they look up and see only sky. Their female relatives include doctors, lawyers, and engineers. I find myself corrected by small voices when I make the old-fashioned faux pas of referring to the woman who delivers our post as the "mailman." You see, they've outpaced me in their vision of equality. And frankly, they've outpaced our country. Why? Because we teach it to them. And they believe it. Why shouldn't they?
And so, it is with stone cold fear that I dread the day I know is coming in the next year. The day when my older daughter realizes that, in the history of our country, there has never been a single female president. I can already hear the confusion in her voice. The naïve wonderment in her eyes. And I am petrified, because I can't bear to answer her inevitable question.
I imagine her a little boy. Learning for the first time, at the tender age of 5, that in the over 200 year history of his country, there have only ever been women presidents. When I picture that scene, it sends chills up my spine. The hair on my arm stands up. Because it could only happen in a dystopian novel. In a fictional world so twisted with malfeasance and manipulation that it bears no resemblance to a reality you would ever wish on a child in the real world.
And then I want to scream. A horrible, soul-ripping, carnal scream. Because I don't feel the same outrage at that same scene that will inevitably play out with my daughter. I should feel horror. But I feel only sadness. And fear at answering wrong. Because no matter how I answer her, I will answer in a way that will forever change the way she views women, and the world, ...and herself.
How could this godforsaken burden be laid at my feet? I don't deserve to have to field this question. No parent, male or female, does. We deserve better. And they deserve better. Because just as the answer to her question will shock her senses, just as it will make her reexamine everything she has come to know and understand about her world, so too should the answer shock and outrage every citizen of this country. Every day. And every year. And every. single. election. cycle. Until we do something about it and there is no reason to be shocked anymore.
And so I will answer her. Just as every parent has done decade after decade. But I will tell her that it won't be that way forever. And that it is not that way in other parts of our world. And I will promise her that I will do my part. Both on the ground -- and in spirit. I will never allow myself to get lazy again. I will not just accept it. Because our daughters deserve more than false promises. They deserve the reality as they envision it when we preach to them about equality. 2016 isn't the time to do it. The time to do it passed us by long ago. The damage is done. Let us not wait for tomorrow to remedy what should have been fixed yesterday. Let us not delay another moment. Their futures -- and ours -- depend on it.