First

I voted in my first Presidential Election in 2000 when I was nineteen. Al Gore won lost. I voted for the second time in 2004 when I was twenty-three. John Kerry also lost. I voted for the third time this past November and today watched as Barack Obama became the 44th President of the United States: My first president.

I kept Archer home from school this morning to witness this day, this moment and I sat between my babies, eyes glued to the TV and I cried. Clutching the hands of my son and my daughter, I cried.

I cried because the world feels very small. Because the next time I travel abroad I won't be ashamed to say I'm American. I cried because people are good and decent and capable of such profound change. Because the future is hopeful as are my peers, my friends, family, even those most cynical. Because Bush is no longer the face of this country and Mr. Potter's Cheney's karma is already at work. Because everything just feels new, today. Different. Because when my children will think, "first family" they will think of this:


When I'm old and people ask "where were you on Jan 20, 2009," I will say, proudly, that I was home, between my children, the reflection of change personified flickering like fire in their eyes. That I got to watch history unfold whilst being surrounded by the future: On one side, an infant gurgling, waving her little fists with wide, wandering eyes. On the other, a boy, perceptive beyond his three years, watching the television with cockeyed interest.


As Biden was being sworn-in, Archer turned to me and said oblivious to the weight of his words.

"Barack Obama gets to go next, right Mommy?"

"Yes, baby. Barack Obama does get to go next."

"Because it's Barack Obama's turn. And then we clap, okay?"

"Yes. We clap as loud as we can."

And so we did. We clapped along with millions... with billions of people in the United States and the world.

We're still clapping.

GGC

P.S. Happy Birthday, Mom.

67 comments:

Amy | 11:56 AM

It was beautiful to hold my son and say, 'yes, son, yes we can.'

Lady K | 12:11 PM

Amen sister, amen.

Girl Friday | 12:14 PM

YAY for us! I can't stop saying "President Obama". What an amazing day.

Chalsey | 12:15 PM

I sat between my boys and did the same thing this morning.

Melinda | 12:17 PM

I loved your post today! While I watched from my computer at work, I thought of my son (5 months old) in his day care providers arms as she watched in her home. I imagined him leaning into the TV listening to the music, happy but not understanding that today was the day that will change the rest of his little life.

Average Girl In Average World | 12:20 PM

Great post!

I think for those of us that had the opporunity to witness what happened today, will never forget where we were, what we were doing and who was with us. Just like 911, we will never forget.

Ju Rizzolo Blackman | 12:26 PM

From the other side of the Atlantic, we also felt very honored to witness this moment.

XX

Momma, The Casual Perfectionist | 12:28 PM

Yay! I watched the inauguration with my 3-yr old, too, and she was enthralled. At one point, when the announcer said to please stand, she said, "Can we stand, too, Momma? Or do we just stay sitting on the couch?"

It's such a great day.

Marie-Ève | 12:34 PM

Hurray! Today, we're all Americans!!! (Even those of us who are "technically" not). I couldn't be more proud when I see my nearly two year-old shout: Go, go, Obama! whenever he sees him on TV.
I was thinking the same thing as you did: wow, this will be his image of a president. This will be his image of our neighbors the US. This will be the hopeful future he comes to know.

little sara | 12:35 PM

You always know how to make to cry...tears of happiness and tears of understanding. Thank you for always saying things so beautifully.

K | 12:39 PM

What a nice way of putting the beauty of today into words. It's a life-changing moment, for sure. How sad, though, that you ever felt ashamed to say you're an American.

Lindsay | 12:42 PM

I haven't stopped crying all morning! It's like catharsis after a long 8 years. I am so proud. SO PROUD! OUR PRESIDENT! One day when I have children, I will bring them into a world where change is possible and it does happen. That gives me more peace and hope than I ever thought I could experience.
OH HAPPY DAY!!
Hug your babies tight today - I want to kiss everyone!! :)

Billie | 12:44 PM

I also was sitting with my 3-month-old in my arms and my 3-year-old sitting beside me watching todays events unfold. Sage started chanting O-BAMA! O-BAMA! with the crowds and I told her that even though we're Canadian this is a very important day for us. I told her that the world changed today, change that made it a much better place and I hoped she would never forget this day. She climbed up and shared my lap with Emery to watch President Obama be sworn in then turned to me and said "tonight I'm going to dream about this.....and Santa."

Issas Crazy World | 12:45 PM

"My first President." Bec, this so sums it up. I feel the exact same way.

I TIVO'd the whole thing. Had to swear on the baby, that I'd not watch it until tonight, when we can watch it as a family. I can wait though, because I know what happened. We finally got a President that makes me proud.

mrs.notouching | 12:45 PM

Funny... I clapped too! Alone at home :-) What a great day in history.

GIRL'S GONE CHILD | 12:47 PM

You guys are making me cry!

hoppytoddle | 12:48 PM

We went to the library for storytime, per usual, but watched with our favorite librarian as he was sworn in, on her computer. We generated a crowd. It was so nice to feel a sense of community that has been lacking. Wounds were healed for me.

& MiniMe has started telling a knock, knock joke where she responds with "Bah!" then "Bah-rock OOO-bah-ma! Yeah!" So, I think even she feels the joy.

Can I get a "YAY, US!"?

megan | 12:56 PM

my 2 year old daughter and i were watching as obama first appeared in front of the crowd, before he was sworn in and everyone was cheering and waving their flags, and she turned to me and said, "mama, obama makes everybody happy!"

ain't that the truth.

Margaret | 12:59 PM

I don't remember much about being five but I'm pretty sure I didn't know who our President was, nor did I care. I feel such a surge of hope and pride when my 5 year old yells "Mommy it's Borack Obama! He's a nice man" Every time we see his image. My 5 year old knows and is excited and I hope that when he's my age he'll have some memory of this amazing time.

Anonymous | 1:07 PM

I'm not saying, like, that everything's bound to fail and is hopeless and it's not worth it and such, but such high hopes cannot possibly fulfilled.

Some progress will be made, sure. I was pleasantly surprised when he won, too; it proved minds were slowly changing. But it's not like he's gonna fix everything in 4 years and put an end to corporate America which puts money way above the well-being of people, push thousands to bankruptcy because of medical bills and wants a "fair" trade system that roughly sums up to letting natural selection follow its course and let the stronger economy destroy all the others while millions starve.

He's not gonna fix that.

But hope is better than despair I guess.

bitemycookie | 1:10 PM

we have change fevah over here, too. i'm just gasping myself as i watch them walk their way home down pennsylvania. i just want to reach out and hug them and thank them and cry and drink champagne and scream and throw my pom poms in the sky. it feels good to feel hopeful, doesn't it lover? in other news, i hope them boobies is feelin aok.

what a wonderful way for wendy to start her new year!! happy happy everyone.

thewhites | 1:11 PM

i sat with my baby in my lap... my husband came home from work for lunch to watch with us. our first family sat in our living room, watching america's first family in all their glory... our glory... everyone's glory. such a wonderful day!!!

Carmen | 1:20 PM

I'm Canadian and I cried when he was sworn in as well. Congratulations on your new president!

Caroline | 1:26 PM

Amen, Sister. Well said. I'm so proud to be an American today.

(On another note, I now realized that I am a year older than you and feeling rather inadequate. I guess when you admire people, you always kinda figure they are ahead of you by at least a year or two. Not that you look any older than me. Oy. I'm digging a hole here. You rock, ok?)

Chantelle | 1:26 PM

Your post, as well as many of these comments has made me cry.

In Australia you'd think it wouldn't matter so much, but I can feel that the change is profound.

Yes he can. x

Karen ~ | 1:40 PM

Yay, Yay, Yay! I cried all morning.

AND - I wasn't going to comment because really, all I want to say is "ditto" - but then I noticed your PS, and today is MY mom's birthday, too!! She says this is the best birthday she can remember.

jjlibra | 1:47 PM

whaaaa- wrote a comment and it didn't post- i prob forgot to verify :(

it was nice to hear a white girl say "my president" because he is ours too. everyone says they don't see color blah blah but they do and he is called the black president and too many black people say "he's my president" and i feel excluded...let's not forget he is half white!! raised by his white family!! he is our president. "our" as in the nation. the whole, multicolored, multigenerational, multibeliefed nation. and not because he's black or white or both. because we voted. because we wanted him. he is ours.

vertigobcooks | 1:57 PM

Thank you thank you thank, GGC. Once again, you summed it up beautifully.

Finally, finally, we have a president we can point to with pride, not one that makes us want to hide our face in shame.

I too watched the day unfold with my children, and my husband and my mother. Three generations, so proud and so hopeful, so thankful that we are here to witness this.

A | 1:58 PM

I'm so glad that I could come here and read all these comments (as well as the blog post). I had read some comments and status updates on my FB that were not so excited.

He is my first president, too (my first presidential election to vote in). I finally feel what my parents and grandparents must have felt about the Kennedys. What a time to be alive!

I had a meeting today, and my 11 month old daughter accompanied me. The CFO came out and said to her (what a very special day in your life, and you don't even know it yet). But I know it. And I will convey it to my baby...I will remind her of where we were on this day and how we felt and how proud we were!

The Obama Days are here!!

She Likes Purple | 2:14 PM

I am so proud my son will be born during the Obama years, that he'll never remember a different time than this.

Adventures In Babywearing | 2:30 PM

Yours was the first post about this today that made me tear up!

Steph

minniemama68 | 3:33 PM

Rebecca,
I've a real fan of your writing. I enjoy reading about your life. Your children are beautiful.

That being said, I have ALWAYS been proud of being an American. Thankful for being an American every. day. of. my. life.

I was thankful when President Clinton was almost impeached for LYING to a grand jury (something you and I would have gone to jail for doing, btw).

I was thankful when Richard Nixon quit in disgrace (yeah, I do remember it).

And I am thankful today.

I didn't vote for Obama, and you probably think I'm an idiot.

But he is MY president--OUR president, and I have great respect for any man who can run for, win and works for our country as our president.

Even if I don't always agree with him.

Ali | 4:04 PM

Well done America, Lets hope this decision you've made really changes the world.
I watched it alone, because it was 2am and it would have been kinda mean to get the kids up, but I'm so glad I saw it all the way down here in Australia

Hillary | 4:19 PM

Yes! The fact that so many little babies and boys and girls will think of Obama when they think of President of the United States, because he -- this black man, this world-traveler, this community organizer, this multicultural father of two little girls not much older than them -- is the first president they remember, that fact is powerful enough to change the world.

Erin, Nick and Merrick | 4:25 PM

My votes have been the exact same thru the years......
Oh happy day.
I watched with my 8th grade home ec. class.....answering a million questions- them watching me as I cried my eyes out....
Oh happy day.

Megan | 4:27 PM

I turned on the TV here in New Zealand just in time to see (live) Bush boarding the helicopter and leaving the White House. I actually cried tears of joy! Like Ali said, let's hope this decision you've made in the USA really does change the world.

Christy | 4:32 PM

I'm Canadian, but staying in Florida at the moment...and it was an amazing feeling...being here while this is happening. What a great day. Part of me wishes I was American so that he could be MY president too.

Amy | 4:42 PM

I sat with my 2 yr old daughter in my lap, and when I explained that the crowds on TV were there for a big party for our new president, Obama, she said, "Will he have a CAKE?!"

Juggle Jane | 5:00 PM

Bubba has been calling today "Barack Obama Day" and it was so great to watch it with him. He ran up to the screen, waving and yelling "HI BARACK OBAMA! Happy Barack Obama Day, Barack Obama!"

Wendy Woolf | 5:26 PM

I just wanted to share this with everyone, especially owing to today's momentous events.

You Have to Pick Your Team
by Sonya Vetra Tinsley, as told to Paul Rogat Loeb


Every day presents infinite reasons to believe that change can't happen, infinite reasons to give up. But I always tell myself, "Sonya, you have to pick your team." It seems to me that there are two teams in this world. And you can find evidence to support the arguments of both. The trademark of one team is cynicism. They'll tell you why what you're doing doesn't matter, why nothing is going to change, why no matter how hard you work, you're going to fail. They seem to get satisfaction out of explaining how we'll always have injustice. You can't change human nature, they say. It's foolish to try. From their experience, they might be right.

Then there's another group of people who admit that they don't know how things will turn out, but have decided to work for change. I see Martin Luther King on that team, Alice Walker, Howard Zinn. I see my chaplain from college and my activist friends. They're always telling stories of faith being rewarded, of ways things could be different, of how their own lives have changed. They'll give you reasons why you shouldn't give up, testimonials why we've yet to see our full potential as a species. They believe we're partners in God's creation, and that change is really possible.

There are times when both teams seem right. Both have evidence. We'll never know who's really going to prevail. So I just have to decide which team seems happier, which side I'd rather be on. And for me that means choosing on the side of faith. Because on the side of cynicism, even if they're right, who wants to win that argument anyway? If I'm going to stick with somebody, I'd rather stick with people who have a sense of possibility and hope. I just know that's the side I want to be on.

Tanyetta | 5:53 PM

Elation!!!!

Tiana | 5:57 PM

I watched today's events all the way in Canada on the TV in Sick Kids hospital. All during my MRI I was thinking of his words and how the world is finally changing.
My dad's American. I'm no longer ashamed to say that. I am so proud of my heritage and what it's done.
Today, though I found out I'll need surgery, was one of the most memorable days of my life.

Desiree Fawn | 6:16 PM

I may not be American, but I watched & I got chills & I cried.
I love knowing that this is the world my daughter will be born into!

zack & penny | 6:23 PM

yes! us too...

http://littlekeenans.blogspot.com/2009/01/obama-babies.html

Pamela | 7:05 PM

At the risk of sounding negative during this hope-fest, I have to disagree with part of your post.

As an American, EVERY president elected is my president, whether I vote for him or not. Perhaps it's because my husband is military and the president is his commander in chief, but I will always hope for the best from our president and pray for him as often as I remember, regardless of whether or not I agree with his policies. I may not like him a whole lot, but he is still my president.

That being said, I thoroughly enjoy your blog and am glad you got to share such a historic day with your children.

Amber | 7:34 PM

No kids yet but I have two pups and cried happiness all over them! I couldn't be happier!

Amber | 7:38 PM

PS: I've had CNN on all day and am still watching! Watching the presidental couple dance keeps making me tear up. =)

marissa | 7:38 PM

I went to my son's school today and sat with him and his little first grade friends and watched my president take office. My little boy laid is head upon my shoulder and never asked why tears flowed from my eyes and the eyes of his teachers. I think he could sense in his own way the power of the moment.
It was amazing to watch the kids, knowing that this was their future being changed. I am still in awe.

Baby in Broad | 8:17 PM

I was fine--with respect to crying, that is--until Barack and Michelle Obama got out of their car and walked, waving to the crowd and holding hands. Of all things, the hand-holding got me.

I've been trying to get Westley to say "Obama." He says "Mamama."

Noob Mommy | 9:22 PM

Looks like you and me both finally got our President :) It's an amazing feeling to be here as a mother, with my little one born in such a historical year. I wish our children a lifetime of hope and opportunities!

bluejeanamy | 9:29 PM

so effing exciting. you'll always be happy you watched it just like that.

i played hooky, sat on my couch, and did the ugly cry thing; riding the bus to work afterward, there was a palpable change in the air.

had goosebumps all day.

abi | 10:12 PM

"Because the next time I travel abroad I won't be ashamed to say I'm American." I couldn't have expressed this sentiment any better. It really did feel different when I woke up this morning. I'm so excited.

seph | 10:41 PM

i agree with the previous comment that every president is "my" president. while i may not agree with everything he does, the president of my country is a leader who deserves the utmost respect. it's disappointing to hear previous presidents bashed -- can we even claim to comprehend the weight they carry? how quick will we be to bash obama if he doesn't deliver the way we imagined?

second, if you believe in karma, i'm pretty sure it's risky to delight in another's injury.

finally, i sat between my two young children and wept today as well. the inauguration was moving and inspiring. i look forward to watching this presidency unfold.

cheers to a thought-provoking blog.

sarah

the weirdgirl | 10:43 PM

It was an amazing day all around!

Amanda | 7:11 AM

Great post, great day. When I picked up my daughter from daycare yesterday, I was so happy to tell her there was a new president. Sure, she's only 18 months and had no idea what I was talking about. But still, I felt the need to tell her.

birdgal | 7:30 AM

Luckily, I was able to be home to watch the inauguration w/my kids (6 inches of snow in NC is a big damn deal, man)--my little boy also gurgling away on my lap (he and Fable were born on the same day!) and my three year old running around the living room. It was a wonderful feeling! Ever since Obama was elected I ask my daughter who the president is and I fill w/my pride when she says 'Barack Obama!!' So much better than George Bush, that's for sho' ;).

Melissa | 7:46 AM

I was clapping too, in a tiny, little, Canadian town. Clapping because I was so happy. Clapping because it was beautiful. Clapping because I am pregnant and so at peace knowing this new world is the one my daughter will know.

Sakkue | 3:09 PM

I, too, sat in front of the TV with my 21 month old daughter and cried. I also voted, at 19, in 2000. And this is my first president too! I am so proud that my daughter gets to be a part of this presidency and nation. When she is older, she can say that her mommy voted for Barack Obama, and that she watched him get sworn in. She pointed at the screen and said, "Obama! Obama!" Then when he had his eyes closed listening to the music, she said, "Obama sleeping!" Yes we can!

Zip n Tizzy | 1:34 AM

I have to admit that I've been afraid to get to hopeful, but I I am finally relaxing into my joy and am savoring the moment. I think what really brought it home for me was the spontaneous delight of my children. They have a passion for him that goes beyond anything we've fostered which amazes and humbles me and leaves me very hopeful.

And one more thing... While I was reading the comments I heard my five year old roll over in bed and call out in his sleep, "Is that Barack Obama?"

Yeah, they're feeling it alright!

beth | 11:34 PM

I was there, on the mall, for the inauguration ceremony. It was wonderful and inspiring and awful, all wrapped up into one.

Surrounding me, there were people of every race, age, religion, sex...and there was this amazing energy, this spirit that came forth from the people there. I was soaking it all in, enjoying this amazing moment of history that I was able to witness in person.

And then there was hate. There was bitterness. From a group of young African American men that were close to where I was standing. There were comments made throughout the initial prayer, throughout Aretha Franklin singing, thoughout President Obama's speech - many hateful words that made me realize that we really have so far to go. And in this moment that I had hoped would be so full of absolute happiness, of true 'change', I was so very disillusioned.

For a moment...

And then I listened to our leader's words...that this is just the beginning. That there is so much work to be done, so much still to fix. And at that moment, I truly realized it. Because it was all around me.

One man does not define our country. Or create the change we need. We all do. We all HAVE to.

And Yes We Can.

Mom101 | 6:46 AM

For a boy who took his time speaking, he certainly uses his worlds powerfully now.

I'm sitting here clapping right along with you.

Jaelithe | 8:05 AM

Gore/Bush was the first presidential election I was old enough to vote in, too.

When I went to the Missouri State Democratic Convention as an Obama delegate, several of the other delegates there were EXACTLY the same age as you and me, Rebecca, and had voted, or, in some cases, TRIED to vote, for the first time in that election.

I figure they became delegates because they wanted to MAKE SURE every vote got counted this time.

A lot of the field organizers who registered voters, and the lawyers and the lawyers who did voter protection at the polls in my neighborhood on election day were our age, too.

In so many ways, Obama is OUR president. The one our generation chose. The face most of us want our children thinking of when they think "President." I get what you feel. It's not that we didn't respect the office of President before. It's that President Obama is the first one who seems to belong to us.

Caitlin | 3:31 PM

Rebecca, I love you and GGC, but I don't like how you say Obama is YOUR first President. Remember, on Election Night Obama said he will be the President of those who did not vote for him.
And Cheney's "karma"? A bit harsh.
Don't go thinking I'm right-wing though -- Obama all the way!
And Archer and Fable, always adorable.
Keep being awesome,
Caitlin

GIRL'S GONE CHILD | 3:46 PM

Yes, Jaelithe. Exactly. Obama is the first elected president that I helped get there. And Cheney is a fucker. Period.

GUGAW | 5:38 AM

it must be such an exciting and buzzy feeling for you all at the moment, we can even feel over the pond here in england!

Cindy | 8:51 AM

It was a beautiful day! There were tears shed. I was excited to have my son, who goes to afternoon kindergarten, at home to watch it with me. I was even more excited to see that my girls would be able to watch it at school. This was a happy revelation for me, living in the most conservative part of the country.

sara | 1:55 PM

My breath still catches in my throat when I see that beautiful family and think of the significance of it all.