The President, the Princess and the Book

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Mami used to say "you can treat me however you like but if you show a kindness to my kid, you have my heart". A kindness is what the frog princess was shown. And for me, it defined so much about this administration in the White House. Let me say that I know not everyone is on the same page as me and I'm kinda glad about that, being the same is boring.

When we met the First Man a few weeks ago, I brought along one of my treasures. A picture book titled Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters written by President Obama.

It has been part of our library since the book came out in 2010. And when I heard that I was going to be able to bring the Frog Princess along to meet Potus, the book was one of the first thing I thought of (I think "holy crap what will she wear?!" was first).

The (ex)man had it with him as he waited and a staffer told him he could take it and get it signed. After the President's speech and the disbanding of the crowd, we stayed behind and waited.

What happened next will forever have a special nook in my heart. Jesse (and I hope I wrote his name down right when I met him) came out, book in hand. Both the (ex)man and I were standing there and he could've very easily handed it over to one of us and been on his way.

There was a young man waiting to give him a t-shirt or something and I recall Jesse telling him "give me a moment, I have to take care of something". He then proceeded to face the frog princess, lean down and speak to her. Jesse opened the book and asked her if she could see who signed the book. I know he said something else to her but I was busy taking it all in. I still get choked up telling this story.

Because you can think what you want to about me, you can ignore me, not like me, not agree with my views, etc. But taking the time to address my 4-year old? Taking the care to show her what you were handing her? Having such a clear understanding of what imprint is being left on her for the rest of her life as it relates to this particular experience? I would call the action priceless but I don't know if it does it justice.

I'm mad at myself because, while I took about 4 shots of this moment...

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...I did not capture the way she ran to him and hugged him after he stood upright. For a little girl who by her own admission has been "a little shy" when meeting new people, that hug was huge.

As was the gesture and care taken with my girl. And for that, I will be forever grateful.

I'm also grateful for the words inscribed in the book. If you've known me for any period of time, you know I'm big on dreaming so this was perfection.

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*yes, that's an Amazon affiliate link up there, in case you wanted to know.

Meeting the First Man

Prologue

During the last inauguration ceremony, we watched on TV and I pointed people out to the frog princess as the day went on. When Michelle Obama came on the screen, I told her that was President Obama's wife, the first lady. Without hesitation, the then 3-year old frog princess turned to me and announced: Mami, he's the first man!

Last week I had a once in a lifetime opportunity. I got a chance to meet the first man of the United States. If you're thinking: OHMAIGAAH! Then we are on the same page. It seemed that POTUS was having a round table with some women in Orlando and I was asked to be one of those (special thanks to MomsRising!)

What did I do first after hearing I'd be chatting with the president? I hung up the phone and cried. Seriously. All I could think of was Mami. The BFF said that this moment was a culmination of all of the hard work I've done before now. And if that's the truth then it stands to reason that this has also come to pass because of her existence, her spirit and her prayers for me.

The next thing I wondered: can I bring the kid?! She's a fan of the prez. After all, she's the one that gave him his official "First Man" title. And after that? It occurred to me that it wouldn't be prudent to tell the entire world on social media that I would be meeting Potus. So as a torture exercise, I kept my mouth shut.

Do you really want the specifics of what it took for me to get ready? I didn't think so. Suffice it to say there was little sleep in my life and one mad dash for my one remaining pair of pantyhose to wear with my black dress (can we start a petition to end the use of pantyhose?).

The Day Of

I could not eat. I just couldn't. I felt like I also could not remember my name, which was an issue. If I couldn't remember my name, how was I going to talk to the leader of the free world? Also, though I had a general sense of what the discussion would be about, I had no clue on the format, the schedule, the setting. Of note here: I'm controlled challenged and it was difficult walking into a situation where the only control I had was of arriving and hopefully speaking.

I was able to bring the frog princess. The (ex)man was going to be bringing her along and sitting with her while I rubbed elbows with Potus. I told her we would be meeting him and yet when she woke up she told me it was going to be a BIG day and then reminded me that we were flying out to see titi Q and uncle John. Long story short: I had a conference I was speaking at in D.C. on Friday and she was coming along. Because of the invitation, I had to change up my travel plans which of course a certain someone couldn't understand. Potus or first plane ride? She thought they were both cool but obvs, the plane ride took center stage in the happenings of her agenda.

I dressed as best I could. Did my make up like Yanira said I should. I went with a simple black Calvin Klein dress which I love and feel comfortable in.

Mami and Frog Princess Meet PotusEverything else chosen that day had a special meaning. I wore my Bloom and Grace bracelet proudly showing that the purchase was worth 6 vaccines to a child in need, my baraka wrap that Lu damn near twisted my arm to buy for myself at Christmas (thanks for the gift card, babes!). My signature flower in my hair: the color lavender chosen as it was Mami's fave.

And finally, I asked my daughter for permission to wear the earrings that her Abuela left for her. It was all I could do to not break down and cry all morning as I felt I was going to be walking in to meet the president with the spirit of my mother securely by my side.

The women I met (6 of us total) were amazing. I'm kinda hoping that they K.I.T. as I gave them my card because I feel that with them I share one of the most important days of my life.

I put my phone away and set my notes in my bag. I waited. Tried not to drink too much water, talked to the other women in the room. And I prayed. When the moment came and he glided into the room (because can I tell you, that man doesn't walk. He glides!) I just tried to take it all in. I tried to take in the fact that the first man was shaking my hand, looking into my face and greeting me. Um…excuse me…is this for real?

Listening to the stories was ah-mazing. I was reminded once again that our stories connect us, they call to our humanity and allow us to understand that what we do makes a difference. That our experiences matter. I was grateful that the President as well as Valerie Jarrett and Betsey Stevenson were there listening and open to receiving our stories. It reminded me that we matter.

Yes, there is more. But I didn't want to write a 5,000 word post. So I'm dividing it up for you. You're welcome!

I will be chatting about it with Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner tomorrow on her radio show, though. I'm sure I will tell it all there. If I can remember what I said.

You can check it out on iTunes OR on TuneIn. Two things you must know:

  1. Kristin rocks and I will be super nervous
  2. It is my #FortyMinusOne birthday so you better tune in

Lastly, I know you are all rushing to Amazon to get me a gift and have it delivered tomorrow afternoon BUT if you really want to get me something, I invite you to buy me a shot!

Epilogue

The frog princess had a front row seat to the President's speech. I was three rows back  in my reserved seat after the round table. I have ZERO pictures with Potus. But, guess who does?

Not Defeated

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As the election raged on and emotions were high I found myself deeply thankful for all of my friends. Democrats and Republicans alike. I started thinking of what I’d say if my candidate lost. And what I’d say if he won.  When the results came in. I found myself sending love notes and thoughts of thanks to those who voted differently from me. Because with all of the mud slinging going on, I found my timelines on both Twitter and Facebook virtually mud-free. I did not feel like we were divided. Rather, I felt like we knew we needed to come together after the votes were counted. I am looking to us mamis to unite this country once again. We do everything else, right? This is my way of beginning the healing process.

MamaDweeb and I have been friends on The Twitter for quite some time now. Then, I finally got to hug her at the Niche Mommy conference. I’ve been in love with her ever since. When I saw this Tweet, I had to reach out to her.

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After a little back and forth where she spoke nothing but the truth (about the president having his work cut out for him) I asked her if she would write a post to share with you all. Here is my friend Annie, who I love and respect dearly, with her own thoughts on the election.

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I voted for Mitt Romney. I wanted to see change and in my research and in my heart, I decided Mitt's values aligned with my own. I haven't enjoyed watching this country experience so much frustration, struggle, and digression in the past four years. I didn't vote for Obama the first time and I exercised my blessed ability to vote this time too.

But you know what? This is not the end. This is not the beginning. This is our life, our continuing to carve out the best possible life for us and our families.  This is America and I have hope that even if our favorite candidates are not elected, we still have a powerful voice and an ability to effect real change.

As a blogger, I can create a huge movement. You know Prop 37 in California? Much of the campaigning for it was done by bloggers, writers and vloggers. Real change will occur as we vote with our dollar, educate each other with knowledgable sources and act on our beliefs with compassion towards others.

Continue to live with a purpose. No matter what happens, I respect President Obama and meanwhile I will be raising my children with my values and teaching them to live out their beliefs with empathy and passion. Will you join me? As long as we have freedoms and a voice, we can still make change!

About the author:

Annie Shultz is the owner of MamaDweeb.com. She lives in Kansas with her husband, 3 kids, dog cat and chickens.  She is always on Twitter @MamaDweeb and loves to chat about issues that weigh on her heart, always looking up optimistically.

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My Vote Counts

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“ No self respecting woman should wish or work for the success of a party that ignores her sex” – Susan B. Anthony

I voted early. I voted my conscience on all items of the ballot, not just the presidential race. Like Michelle from Think In Color Now, I voted for my daughter.

So many of my favorite bloggers have already said what I felt that I’m going to simply tell you to go visit them because I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Deborah over at Motherhood the Truth talked about how she was voting solely on the issue of women’s rights this year and man, do I agree!

Jill from Scary Mommy talked about her reasons for voting and again, she said so many of the things that I think I feel.

I want my daughter to be paid the same as your son.

I want my friends who have kids with disabilities (or who have disabilities themselves) to have good healthcare in spite of their pre-existing conditions.

I don’t care who my child marries, so long as she is happy, she should have the similar rights regardless of who she chooses to love.

I don’t want anyone’s daughter to be put at risk because they are not allowed to make choices for their own bodies, even if that decision differs from my own.

I became a naturalized citizen at age 22 and have not missed a presidential election ever since. Why? Because I feel that people fought and died for my right to vote. So much is riding on this election. And not just the presidential candidates.

In Florida, we have an amendment that is trying to waive a women’s right to privacy.  There’s an amendment that will allow funds to go to religious sects though the amendment is very vague as to who will decide what organizations will qualify for my funds. And there is an amendment that directly opposes the Affordable Healthcare Act because, you know, it’s totally constitutional for a state to secede from federal law.

I don’t urge you to vote like I did, though I wouldn’t be mad at you. BUT, I want you to get out and VOTE regardless of whether you agree with me.

This morning, I went out to canvass in a neighborhood close to my house. These are my stories (insert Law & Order bum bum here)…

1. I ran into an older Argentinian man who proudly flew an American flag in front of his apartment. He showed me his credentials as being part of the democratic party. He was jolly and happy and more than willing to let me know who was home and who was not. He was also very errr, complimentary of how I looked. Told me that another canvasser had come by from DR as well but she was a bit older whereas I was…tender. That’s the word he used! Old guy, thanks for the compliment, for your vote and for the creepy feeling.

2. I knocked on a door and a young woman opened. I asked for the person on my list and she told me that her mom happened to have been out to vote right at that moment. I smiled, checked her off my list and asked her if she had an idea of who she had voted for. She smiled at me and told me that she was voting Democratic. But then she also told me that they were having an election party because she was a strong Republican. I loved the pleasant and respectful chat I had with her. I thanked her for voting, patted her dog and went about my way feeling great about the interaction and hoping to the sweet baby Jesus that my house is never divided. Also, I was secretly hoping she’d invite me to the party so I could see how that went.

3. Finally, I was making my way down the last side of one of my streets. I spotted an older couple smoking outside of their apartment on the 2nd floor. I climbed the stairs, said good morning and went to the door listed on my sheet. I heard whispers. After a few minutes of waiting and no answer at the door, I left the card on the door reminding the person of their poll location. As I walked back, I wished the couple, now looking at me with a mixture of hatred and…disgust, a good day. They mumbled something else and I went down the stairs.

As I was walking away I heard “There’s no soliciting here. This is private property.” not to my face but mumbled to my back along with some other comments that I did not hear but could imagine.

See, I've been in Florida for a long, long time. And the undertone of racism can creep up in the same way that the afternoon summer storms can settle in the sky. With little notice and with great intensity. I walked away and chose not to finish my job on that side of the street.

I also vote because I’m hoping that my child never has to deal with that. That people won’t mumble names under their breath or worse yet, shout them to her face. Not that voting the way I voted will change that but, I am praying that with each move forward, we can leave those things behind.

Have you voted in this election?