I am tired. On the day of the election, I was 36 weeks pregnant. Now I am even further along. I cannot climb a flight of stairs without losing my breath, and when I stand or sit for more than an hour, my feet swell against the seams of my shoes.
I am not sleeping well. I wake from random contractions: a rock-hard belly and a deep ache in my back. Soon I will birth this child, whether I want to or not, and the truth is, in the wake of the election, I’d rather not.
America: I worry for my children. I worry the culture they live in is too concerned with short-term comfort to face climate change. I worry my children’s environmental memories will not be of camping trips or pumpkins or walks beneath the moon but of increasing catastrophes and wars over resources.
I worry for my daughter, and what messages she will receive from others about her body. I worry she will stop at a gas station at night, like I did one month before this election, and that men in the lone car next to her will catcall. I worry that she, like me, will leave with only three gallons in her tank.
I worry for my son. That he will be born into a time where racist and homophobic comments fly like spittle from others’ mouths, and that such comments will incite further violence. I worry this violence is the only news he will hear. I worry that hatred and intolerance, to him, will seem “normal.”
I worry for myself. In a week or two, I will go into labor. I will be stripped down and monitored, in a city, a state, a country that has declared a predatory man can be president. I will rely on the hands of others to hold me and catch my child. I’m not sure I’ll feel safe.
I know we are all scared and angry—including those who voted for Trump. A conservative colleague of mine with three children feels attacked by anti-Trump protestors; she has said feminists want mothers to hate their sons. A white, working-class relative of mine, struggling to pay the mortgage on her house, believes the government has done nothing to help her. She criticizes Obamacare and illegal immigrants, and she has applied for a permit to carry a concealed gun. Though I will never support Trump or his statements, I know the anger of these voters stems from fears and injustices that also need to be addressed.
America: I know that overcoming all these fears will take time and work.
Please show me that you, too, are willing to do that work.
Please show me that this is a world worthy of children.
Jennifer Case’s essays have appeared in journals such as Orion, ISLE, North American Review, and Zone 3, among others. She is an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Central Arkansas and the Assistant Nonfiction Editor of Terrain.org.
Header photo of shoes by Wokandapix, courtesy Pixabay.