On the evening of May 8th, I was home on my last long day of the semester with our two kids while my partner taught two final classes. I checked the election results a couple of times online before it was clear that Amendment One had indeed passed. I had been half-consciously preparing all day for this outcome but my heart sank anyway.
A lot of thoughts flew through my head. The excitement I’d been feeling over the house we’re under contract on in Winston-Salem vaporized. I wished we could move out of North Carolina to a state where my family is more welcome. At the same time, I want my children to grow up close to my mom (and other supportive family members) and moving out of NC would mean moving further from her. Which is better for kids, I wondered: growing up around a large and loving extended family in a state that demonizes their parents or growing up with minimal extended family presence in a state that’s more accepting of us?
I damned the job market for landing us here even though my partner loves working at this small liberal arts women’s college which also provides me with partner benefits. I imagined all of the self-righteous, anti-gay people who supported the amendment rejoicing together and feeling smug at the same time as I and so many good, decent, compassionate people felt crushed and dejected. I knew that running away is not the answer, that we need to stay and be the change, but at what cost? Our kids’ childhoods?
Our one-year-old toddled around the room (he’s walking now as I predicted) and our three-year-old chased him, both oblivious to what I was going through. I decided to take them outside for some fresh, cool air and a change of scene. I grabbed my camera for added distraction and I asked my older son to sing me a song, expecting to hear Itsy Bitsy Spider or his original song, Smash (which goes something like this: Smash, smash, smaaaash, smash, smaAAAash!).
Instead, he fetched his ukelele and made up a new song on the spot:
In case you can’t watch, or understand him, here are the lyrics:
I just want you to stay with me
and I don’t want you to go out
in the woods by yourself.
I will come with you in the woods
because I don’t want a bear to get you!
That’s right, my son wrote his first love song, and his timing couldn’t have been better.
Good, kind people of North Carolina, I want to thank you for voting with and for my family. Unfortunately, there are a lot more bears in these woods than we knew. But I want you to know we’re staying with you, we’re walking with you through these dark times, and together we will keep each other safe and loved.
And we will fight back.
Here’s a roundup of my favorite reads from today: