Last November on my Daughter’s Birthday
Sonia Awan works as a PR director for a software company in Los Angeles. The Bangladeshi mother of two girls moved to California 26 years ago and had never gotten involved in topics about government or politics.
But as she shares in her own words, things changed a year ago, on her daughter’s 12th birthday. that was the day of the 2016 Presidential Election.
By Sonia Awan, Glendale, CA
Last year on November 8, 2016, my 12-year-old daughter Miriam woke up, full of anticipation and worry on the day of her birthday. She didn’t want me to plan anything for her special day until the election results were announced. She was sure it would be a double celebration. Her birthday would be coinciding with the historic event of electing the first female president of the United States.
The day’s events took an unexpected turn, as we nervously sat across from the TV, holding our breaths collectively. We couldn’t believe what we were witnessing. I glanced at my beautiful, sensitive daughter, whose eyes were glistening as red states were taking over the blue states, one after another, on the map.
When they finally announced the results, we were all frozen in place. We simply didn’t know what was happening. I turned to my daughter, who ran straight into my arms and broke down with a gut-wrenching wail. I had nothing to say to her, as my mind was still processing the loss. We were so sure, so very sure that on her birthday, we would have someone break through the glass ceiling and pave the way for her to be successful and make a difference someday.
But her birthday wish didn’t come true. Instead she was hit with the harsh reality that the world still wasn’t ready for real change.
She cried all throughout the night, didn’t even want anyone come close to her. Her 12-year-old mind and heart were both in turmoil. I told her to calm down, and explained things would get worse before they got better, but she looked straight into my eyes and asked: “how can anything get better Momma? I represent three things that this man hates, I am brown, I am a Muslim and above all, I am a female!”
At that moment, my heart just broke into a thousand pieces. What could I do, what could I say to make my little girl believe in good again? How could I have brought her into a world that was so full of hate and anger?
As I look back on the day, almost a year ago, I find myself feeling more dejected and helpless. I thought maybe it wouldn’t be so bad, maybe we ought to give this person a chance, but it’s been a downhill slope since my daughter’s last birthday.
We had the marches, the protests and social media outreaches and petitions, but nothing seems to stop this abominable evil that is perpetuating everywhere and like a virus, is spreading through the lives of everyone. We taught our children to be truthful, kind and respectful yet we have a leader in this country who defies all that is good and decent. How can this stop? Can someone reason with this person? Is this the legacy he wants to leave behind?
I am not a political activist. I don’t always feel passionate for a cause. I do my part in society by helping in small ways that I can. My life revolves around raising my two girls. I want them to be confident, successful and more importantly happy to be who they are. We don’t talk religion or culture, we blend everything into a nice little concoction and we celebrate life. The discussion about race or color never entered our everyday conversation because it really didn’t play much of a role. We live in California and it’s as diverse it can get and there was no reason for my girls to feel any differently.
But things have changed. I worry each time they are at school, whether they will be bullied. They are still so very young, they shouldn’t have to deal with issues such as racism or bigotry. Life will get tough as they grow older anyway, so why can’t I keep their childhood a bit ambiguous, a little magical?
This year on November 8, my daughter will turn 13. She knows that in life, one must choose their battles wisely. She wants to study environmental engineering so that she can do her part to protect the planet. She still wakes up in middle of the night, almost hyperventilating, crying: “no one cares about the earth, we have a President who doesn’t believe in climate change, what will happen?”
I hold her and calm her down and I tell her, she will be the beacon that shows the way, that she can change the world if she wants to, all she needs to do is to believe.
But do I believe that myself?
I am not sure, but I am optimistic. Things have gotten quite bad, but can we just stop it from becoming worse? As mothers, as fathers or as parents, can we stop the ruthlessness and callousness? Can we do something to make sure that our children are growing in an ideal and safe place? Can our girls dream to be who they want to be, even if that dream seems far-fetched now?
I hope we can. We brought our children into this world and it is our responsibility to protect them against all evil and let them shine.
It is not just a dream, today it is a mother’s prayer.
Mommy In Los Angeles® is proud to offer a platform for local moms to express themselves on topics of motherhood and raising children in today’s world. We found Sonia’s article compelling and felt it echoed the feelings of many mothers in our diverse city. We commend her for her courage to write about her experiences with the 2016 Presidential election as a Muslim, a Minority and Mother. By that same premise, we encourage LA Moms who may have opposing views to share their story too. Every Mom Has A Story.