Monday, November 10, 2008

What Obama's Victory Means to My Children

Tuesday night, as in many households, our family cheered and whooped and hollered like never before as we watched the election of Barack Obama. My daughters understood the historical significance, but there's something else - a very personal reason for each of them to consider Obama's victory a sign of hope for them.

We're not African-American - that wasn't it. We're not from Chicago, we have not been foreclosed upon, and we are fortunate to have health care and our health. In fact, it took me several days to truly understand the personal victory we felt that night. Barack Obama, our next president, was raised by a single mom.

I have an answer now to every "expert" or study that says my children would be better off in a 2-parent household. Well, I've always had an answer, which is no. We're better off without him. Even my children, albeit unhappily, would tell you that. But I have proof that being raised by a single parent does not have to be a barrier to anything they want to accomplish. Because a single mother raised our next President of the United States.

True, she had help. So do I. And I'd encourage any and every single parent out there to be brave enough to ask for all the love and support and help you can get. My daughters are better off undoubtedly because of my parents and extended family members. But even with that, and along with all the sacrifices mothers make every day for our children, there are some jobs, chores, decisions that are solely mine. And there's no one to run interference in a moment where I've had it. There's no one else who will take out the trash, dole out the discipline, or simply love and obsess over them the way I do.

I have cried many times about it. I have struggled with my own culpability in it. And I know in my gut that Obama's mother did, too. I'm sure she questioned herself, and cried her eyes out sometimes, and worried how deep the scars of his childhood would get.

This victory is a personal victory because it lifts all the shackles that society has been telling us single parenthood causes our children. My children are free to write their own stories, complete with mistakes and lessons learned. Their gender, their background, their mixed ethnicity will be what they make of it.

My mother was slightly appalled when she learned I was naming our first-born Sylvia. She thought it was an old lady's name. Minutes after holding Sylvia for the first time, I stated that she had already made it her own.

All of our children will make their futures their own. If Barack Obama can do it...well, you know.

Originally posted on LA Moms, Nov. 10, 2008.

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