DIARIO DI MAMMA
Reaching unity can begin with parents. I’ve experienced firsthand the little bit of crazy that washes over every mother and father multiple times per day. No matter the race, religion, ethnicity, or sexuality, parents have all locked themselves in the closet or bathroom with a bag of chocolates (or booze). And they’ve considered those five minutes a mini vacation, even if most of it was spent screaming into a pillow before downing a shot. I’ve been there. If you’re a parent – regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, or sexuality – you’ve been there, too. Admit it.
Recently, I visited Sesame Place with with my husband and our young son. On every line in which we stood, I noticed guests of every kind with their children. There were fathers shouting at their kids to pay attention. There were mothers drying the tears of the overtired. There were parents negotiating peace treaties between warring siblings. There were tantrums and tirades, laughs and hugs. A woman in a full burka was worrying about her young daughters in hijabs because they weren’t holding onto the stroller, and she feared they would get lost. There was a black family whose youngest child was scared of going on a water slide, and his mother was trying to give him courage. There was an Indian father and son laughing about who was going to get down the slide first. A Latino family stood with teen children, who were teasing each other about the ice cream flavors they were choosing. And my husband and I were taking turns holding my son, who was complaining about his bare feet on the scalding pavement and fighting sleep to go on one more water slide. “Please, Mommy, please!”
Parenthood is a shared experience that unites us all. Whether your kid is speaking Chinese, Spanish, English, or Italian, you’ve heard, “Please, Mommy, please.” You’ve treated boo-boos and offered love amid desperate cries. You’ve broken up fights between brothers and sisters or cousins, all of which has left you scarred mentally and physically. And you’ve felt the joys of scooping up your baby and taking a whiff of that intoxicating preciousness. You know what it means for your heart to swell as your child takes first steps. You know of the separation anxiety (yours, not your kids) on those first days of school. You’ve been moved by your child in a way you never expected and can’t quite put into words.
These shared sentiments are a way to shove us all forward, a reason to reach out to your fellow man or woman. We are parents. We all want better for our kids. We have a big stake in the next generation. Raising our babies right is great motivation to build bridges between us because we all vividly know the sweet pain of parenting. We are living in the most divisive of times in politics, yet Republicans and Democrats alike can relate to one another when it comes to the kids.
“There’s something about your daughters that just breaks your heart,” President Barack Obama has said, according to the Huffington Post. “The finite amount of time you have with your children, and the joy they bring on a minute-to-minute, day-by-day basis — the idea that that’s not there all the time is something that can hit me hard sometimes.” Me too, Mr. President. Me too.
On July 25, First Lady Michelle Obama took to the stage at the 2016 Democratic National Convention and brought tears to the eyes of parents on both sides of the aisle when she delivered an eloquent and moving political speech about parenting. “That is the story of this country, the story that has brought me to this stage tonight, the story of generations of people who felt the lash of bondage, the shame of servitude, the sting of segregation, but who kept on striving and hoping and doing what needed to be done so that today, I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves — and I watch my daughters — two beautiful, intelligent, black young women — playing with their dogs on the White House lawn,” she said.
Many a tweet has suggested that if you weren’t moved by that speech, then you’re not human. And I have to agree. Her words, our country, our unfolding history is remarkable. I don’t think it’s just Democrats who could relate to the idea that we need to invest in our children and serve as role models for them. They aren’t the only ones who love America and want to make it a better place for those who come next. No one wants to leave their children in the lurch.
“If we don’t make tough decisions today our children are going to have to make much, much tougher decisions tomorrow,” has said Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. Despite the bad rep his party is getting for not being inclusive, they have those who see more of America than old white men and want to better represent that to young people.
“We are a nation of communities… a brilliant diversity spread like stars, like a thousand points of light in a broad and peaceful sky,” has said former Republican President George H.W. Bush. Yes, we want to make those stars shine as brightly as possible. Another famous leader, this time on the Democratic side, once said, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Indeed, aspiring President Hillary Clinton was as right as Bush. In fact, my own village is vast and includes an increasingly multicultural family with roots in Italy and branches all over the world. Whether I’m speaking of my relatives or friends, who may as well be relatives, or complete strangers, wherever I go, whatever I do, I see parents demanding the best for their children in ways big and small. Can’t this shared desire to give our children a brighter tomorrow be enough to bring us all together, to help us cross party lines, to help us at least try to understand those who are different from us?