Over the weekend, this video of 106-year-old Virginia McLaurin meeting President Barack Obama in the White House went viral. The joy of her spirit, the pride in eyes and the satisfaction in her voice is enough to inspire anyone.
At 106, she has personally witnessed many pivotal shifts in American history. She was born not long after African Americans were granted the right to vote. She was born before women were granted the right to vote. So the opportunity to meet an African-American president for whom she was able to vote was the chance of a lifetime.
Just days prior another viral video focused on President Obama hit the internet. Only this time, the mood wasn’t happiness, but despair. Caprina D Harris posted this video of her granddaughter, who shares a birthday with the President, in hysterics because he won’t be president for much longer. What a stark contrast in response to the same event.
On Saturday morning just before Gymnastics, My Dranbaby found out that our President Barack Obama was no longer going to be our President!!! He has been her President all of her life and Yes her birthday is also on AUGUST 4!!!! My poor baby!!!
Posted by Caprina D Harris on Monday, February 15, 2016
Also this weekend, Olivia and I watched a video where a young girl quoted President Barack Obama stating “Yes We Can.” To explain the reference I showed Olivia the music video “Yes We Can.” Arranged and produced by will.i.am of the musical group Black Eyed Peas, “Yes We Can” is set to the words of a speech delivered by Candidate Barack Obama during the 2008 Presidential Election.
I was overcome with emotion and had to fight back tears watching this video again. There is great significance to the song, the speech, the slogan and the place that President Barack Obama holds in the history of our country. I realized in order to fully explain it I have to reveal some ugly truths about who we have been and who we are as a nation.
And as a mom, I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t ready because my uncertainty. I wasn’t ready because of my own emotions. I wasn’t ready because of fear. I wasn’t ready because of hope.
May your choices reflect your hopes and not your fears. Nelson Mandela
I allowed uncertainty to win. The uncertainty of how my compassionate giver would respond to such harsh realities. The uncertainty of whether or not these realities would motivate her drive or crush her spirit. The uncertainty of how she would handle accepting reality kept me from engaging that day.
I let my emotions rule the day. I didn’t want to have to explain the pride or the sadness behind my tears. I didn’t want to incite emotion in my little humanitarian. I didn’t want to have to own up to my emotions that day.
I gave into my fear. The fear of responding to questions for which I can’t provide clear and reasonable answers. My fear of her response to what’s really happening in our country versus what she experiences in her everyday life.
But I should have allowed my hope to intervene. The hope that she will see goodness in the world. The hope that the goodness within her will be seen by the world. The hope that her faith in humanity will remain and grow.
I should have operated from a place of hope that day. The same hope that brought us to the place we are today. The same hope that is the source of so much joy and so much sorrow. The same hope that inspired the very young and the very aged.
Do you struggle to parent with hope and not fear? I would love to hear your story.