Things Best Not Forgotten (Project Posterity: The COVID Chronicles)

Today we played badminton and cursed the wind, chasing the birdies through the year’s first grass before the dogs could get them.

Today is the last day before online lessons are given for a grade, but my fourth grader finds herself wanting to do the optional ones anyway, to do work she could choose not to do. But still she wears pajamas, fights me about brushing her hair. We are, after all, at home.

We counted the days of online school to come, clocked it at only 12 though it somehow feels an infinite number before us. In counting we assumed a return date that isn’t set in stone, but rather in each other and how well Americans manage to stay at home.

I call this Day 18.

Eighteen days of togetherness in which everything has changed: How we eat, sleep, shop, parent. How we read the news, communicate, say our prayers, and breathe.

I’ve yet to sew a face mask.

I have a machine, and cloth, and thread, but lack discernable sewing talent and so I doubt I’ll be posting pictures of colorful face coverings anytime soon. But a sincere thank you to those whom God has blessed with the gift of stitching us together, weaving half measures into whole.

I just found out our neighbor is an ER doctor. I didn’t know. But now a neighborhood email has been sent and read that tells me this is true. Tomorrow we will gather outside his home as he returns from his shift at a now empty hospital, the calm before the storm that is projected to hit our state in 16 days. Which is fewer than the infinite 18 in which we’ve lived fully into our homes.

I still see neighbors walking their dogs with one another. Kids riding bikes down the empty streets. I shake my head and close the curtains with a sigh.

When did we start judging people for how close they stand to one another as they amble in togetherness? And when will this judging stop? I wonder.

The day so far is beautiful, despite the wind. My three children are enjoying the sun together, dodging dogs and their messes, laughing as the wind carries a birdie ten feet away one minute, then backwards the next. My youngest has worn the same clothes five days now; he wants to set a record. I told him he already has, but he just laughed and kept them on: Florescent green shorts and a maroon Razorbacks shirt handed down from a cousin whose sister just cut his hair because all the salons are closed. I was impressed with how well she did.

My mom has a mask. One mask. She uses it for Kilz and sawdust and the other noxious fumes and particles of construction. “Should I ask Collin if he wants to wear it when he goes out for us?” she asked me this morning. Collin is in his 20s and likely the best suited of us to risk exposure.

“I don’t know,” I said. Because I don’t.

There’s so little I know these days, other than a schedule really helps, but so does pretending it’s not a schedule at all; else the kids might revolt. I’ve learned if the house isn’t tidy I can’t do this thing we’re all doing together separately. I’ve learned to hit refresh on Prime Now to snag a delivery spot as soon as one opens, and how to wipe down a box of cereal to make sure it doesn’t kill my mom. I’ve learned we’re all amazingly resilient, but I also wonder how that day will feel when it finally comes. The day the kids return to school. The husband to traveling for work. The house as empty as it ever is, which is to say it’s down to 2 adults and their barking dogs. That moment, when it comes, will be strange, I think. Happy but a little sad, a celebratory moment of peace, but also a moment of loss, as I send my kids away.

For now, I’m keeping them in check with prizes. They draw post-its from a once-red bowl, now orange from time and washing. These post-its hold their next task, whether fun or work, and they earn points upon the task’s completion. At the end of the day, or perhaps two, they are rewarded prizes for how well and nicely they performed their tasks. So far the rewards have been gifts purchased for birthday parties never held: the virus has halted even the earth’s movement around the sun.

Andy and I agreed last night that it will be a shame when we go back to how things were. Moments of rushing and shushing to get where we’re supposed to be. To hurried bedtimes that happen right after tired dinners that happen right after Andy gets home. To times when I can’t—or think I can’t—sit in the shade of a beautiful day, watching my three laugh over failed serves, fighting against the sun dots dancing before their eyes.

It is wonderful. And quiet. And joyful. It’s all the things parenting should be. Perhaps that’s why I’m writing this so early in the day when there are still so many hours left to come: This is a moment to hold on to, to reread in coming years. There is much to remember about these crazy days, but the sun and wind and laughter are the ones I hope to remember most.

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In Which I Am Tired but the Dogs Don’t Care (Project Posterity: The COVID Chronicles)

The kids and dogs are outside.

The house is quiet and not a little boring.

It occurs to me that instead of scrolling Facebook and reading dire, apocalyptic articles that don’t tell me anything I don’t already know, I should probably Do Something.

I don’t feel well enough today to do anything that takes physical energy or that even requires me to take multiple steps (i.e., pay a bill that I have to look up on the computer and then set up bill pay with my bank. That’s TWO WHOLE STEPS), so I decide I should start a COVID-19 journal. I’m sure all the cool kids are doing it, and you know, that’s what I do: I write.

I’m always complaining there’s not enough time or mental energy in the day to put words to page, but here it is: a golden opportunity. So okay. I’ll do it.

April 2, 2020,

 The emotional toll of this pandemic is not at all like 9/11, or —

Wait—is that the backdoor? Yes, that was definitely the backdoor. I hear paws on wood, and then footsteps.

Collin comes through the living room, typing furiously on his phone. Without looking up, he says, “Uh oh, Mom. Muddy paws. VERY muddy paws.”

Well, shit.

(There’s something about this pandemic that makes me curse. I have no idea why.)

I assess the damage and it’s worse than I thought.

Both dogs, looking rather pleased with themselves, are covered in mud. Their paws, their bellies, their shaggy rear-ends. And, to make matters even worse, I just gave them their monthly bath TWO days ago. AND cleaned out the giant whirlpool tub I bathed them in. This takes effort, folks. Lots and lots of effort. If I remember correctly, the doggy bath two days ago resulted in my being covered in water from neck to knee, and cleaning the tub involved me kneeling inside the tub in a bathing suit and holding a bottle of bleach. I cannot do this again a mere two days later. This is not okay.

I try a towel on their paws, which involves illegal WWF moves and lots of “come back here you mangy dog” from me. The dogs were not impressed.

So, I will save my first journal entry regarding this historical pandemic for another day.

Because I refuse to consider that this—this muddy moment of atrocity—is day one of such an important recordation for posterity.

Parents, You Are Rocking it Right Now. I Promise.

I’ve spent more time on Facebook and the interwebs in general in the last two weeks than I have perhaps all year. Not because I’m cooped up at home—I’m always home anyway—but because I so desperately want to know what’s next in this whole mess. Hitting refresh on pages or chatting with friends online or posting on Facebook helps pass the time but also helps me feel better somehow. Like since none of us know what’s next then it’s all okay. Which makes zero sense but there it is.

In my new life of Facebook binging, I’ve noticed several common COVID-19 themes:

  • Lots of accusations of parents hating their children because said parents are complaining about being with their kids
  • Lots of comments about alcohol consumption regarding those complaints
  • Lots of frustration by homeschooling parents at the use of the word “homeschool”
  • Lots of support for one another in this stupid crazy time

So. Let’s take them one by one.

1) Parents do not hate their kids. Parents love their kids. A lot. Parents are complaining for a multitude of reasons that have nothing whatsoever to do with the amount of love they have for their kids. This s**t is hard, folks. We are home 24/7 with kids who we love, but who are kids and therefore are not meant to be cooped at home and are thus going crazy just like we all are. They cannot (presumably) drink their frustrations away like many parents appear to be doing (more on that later), complain on Facebook about their crappy parents, or get in the car and go for a drive. All they can do is complain bitterly and turn up their music and rudeness level (teens); whine and ask for snacks, screen time, and answers to when this will end (pre-teens); and bounce of the walls, cry, complain, and protest their parents-turned-teachers demanding they sit down and work when home is supposed to be a place of refuge from the pressures of school (little kids/all kids).

We don’t have kids without thinking and then complain about them. We have kids, love them, complain anyway, then snuggle them to sleep. I mean, do we ever complain about spouses/jobs/pets/cars/houses/etc.? Of course. Does that mean we hate them? Nope! So parents, ignore those saying you hate your kids because you complain. Go ahead and vent because that’s what keeps so many of us sane. If it makes you feel better, add an obligatory “I love my kids but …” but know that you don’t have to. Most of us get it. We get you, because we are you.

2) Do folks really drink as much as the memes would imply? I had no idea! I’ll admit that does worry me a bit, and it worries me too that our kids (universal) will see the memes and jokes and think drinking is a way to solve problems. But, see number one above. Jokes are jokes, and many of these memes and comments are likely just that. I personally find it strange, but a strange without the teeth of judgment behind it. Hope that’s okay.

3) We are doing school. At home. So, given the rules of compound words, we are indeed homeschooling. I think we get that what we’re doing because of school closures is not the same as what those who homeschool on a daily basis are doing. There are co-ops and apps for that. Play groups and specialized resources. We are not there. But it’s semantics, folks, and this is no time to argue semantics or be offended by the use of a sensical combination of words to explain what we are doing to keep our children from suffering educational losses. It’s okay, really. So homeschool away, everyone, and may the force be with you. All of you. No matter what.

4) Oh, there are hearts. And rainbows. And chalk art and Zoom groups and driveway tea times and my kid had a playdate with the neighbor kids from literally across the street: He stood on one side and they stayed on the other and they called it playing “together.” We are in it to win it, folks, except maybe for those who are price gouging TP and hand sanitizer. (Seriously, today I saw a 12-pack of TP for $75 on Amazon!) The stories of support and caring are legion, and I am beyond impressed. For every story of craptasticness, there are 10 of awesomeness. So keep being awesome. I’ll try to as well, but on occasion I’ll likely complain about my kids. Maybe even my husband. But I promise that I love them.

For real, there is an increase right now in child abuse, domestic violence, and other horrific things. This is real stress about real things, and even though this too shall pass, it isn’t clear yet what it will look like on the other side. For some, like me, things will be nice and rosy. For others, not so much. Please, let’s hold each other in prayer, and in so doing, please remember our school districts and our teachers who are struggling along with the rest of us, deemed “non-essential,” yet working from home with their own kids screaming in the background and their own issues to deal with.

And now I will go because Jeffery, my Instacart shopper, is texting me that 800 of the items I ordered are out of stock and no, butter lettuce is not a sufficient replacement for a grain bowl.

Perhaps $75 for TP isn’t so bad after all.

The Problem with a Woman’s ‘No’

Like most women I know, I am a woman who “does things.” Whether in the church, classroom, or community, I volunteer for activities and events because I enjoy doing them.

The problem with this (one of a few) is that once a woman gains a reputation of saying yes to things, even more requests for stepping up come her way. There is some good that comes with that, but also some bad. The requests begin to broaden in scope until they encompass unenjoyable, un-called-to things. They also begin to pile up, as two hours of help turn to three, then ten, and before you know it, a whole month has gone by. Sleep is lost, kids ignored, husbands relegated to last in line for attention. Nutrition and exercise fall to the wayside, and, perhaps, stress begins to manifest in physical ways.

Hence the market for self-help books teaching women the seemingly-easy skill of saying no. There are actually books—plural!—that contain hundreds of pages explaining how “no” is a word women shouldn’t be afraid to say. Those two little letters, that tiny package of a word, is truly a linguistic barrier to a happier, healthier life. If we women who “do” things could just learn no’s value, the books claim, we could better live into our actual calling, better love ourselves, our husbands, and our children. But wait! There’s more! We also wouldn’t lose friends, professional opportunities, important roles in the community, or any of those other things we’re afraid of losing should our yesses stop coming.

It isn’t just books: Pastors give this advice. Therapists. Friends. TV doctors with good intentions. And I agree with them: no-saying is a necessary skill for those of us living in a world with too high expectations and too few people to fill the roles we’ve spontaneously created then deemed essential.

But knowing intellectually that we should balance our yesses with a handful of nos is one thing; putting it into play is another.

It’s hard to step back and let something fail, go fallow, or not be done to our personal specifications. It’s even harder to let go of things that fulfill us, that intellectually stimulate us, that give us more to talk about over dinner than laundry and homework. But sometimes there are reasons we must say no, even if we’re left not just with more family and “me” time on our hands, but also with isolation, unpracticed talents, unstimulated minds, and deep sadness.

A couple of years ago I was really sick. Like go-to-the-hospital-bi-weekly sick. In that two-year season I posted on this blog a grand total of FOUR TIMES. I couldn’t even write while at home in my PJs sipping cocoa! I was living off prednisone and even with that most hated of the best loved drugs propping me up, I still just couldn’t go on being someone who “did” things.

So my husband and I decided it was time I just said no.

I emailed heads of boards and bowed out of roles. I spoke for hours, days, years it seems, with my (very supportive and understanding) pastor about church roles I could no longer fill. I let folks at my children’s school think I’d fallen off the edge of the world. I rejected clients. I just … stopped.

So I’ve been there, and you can trust me when I say that sometimes saying no is way, way harder than the overburdening of all the yesses combined.

Being out and about in the world I knew without being an integral part of how it ran was devastating. Not because of the loss of control, but because some of us, like me, were created to be in the ranks of those who do. I thrive on the yesses.

But then … it got easy.

Don’t get me wrong—it wasn’t like easy easy. Just … easier. Enjoyable, even. After the boredom and sadness passed, I started to feel better. I went off the prednisone. I had the energy to switch to a vegan diet (one of the top five best decisions I’ve ever made, by the way. Feel free to ask me about it.). I watched TV. Read books. Had an actual conversation with my husband. And then I was able to go off the immunosuppressant medication that kept me living off antibiotics.

Through this I learned that while the yesses might be life-giving, saying no can be lifesaving.

But I’m sad to say I learned another lesson as well.

I learned that the books are wrong. That our well-intentioned friends are wrong. That the TV-doctors and celebrities are wrong. Even our religious leaders are wrong.

The hard truth is that few people want to hear a no.

While many are sympathetic to the need to step back, many are not.

I was told I didn’t care about my church.

I stopped hearing from friends I’d made through shared volunteer activities.

I was excluded from certain conversations and actions I still wanted to be a part of.

I was stunned.

I readily admit it’s true we can’t always have the best of both worlds. In some roles you’re either in or out; there is no in between. It’s also true we can’t expect place holders: we snooze, we lose. And, of course, there’s the issue of reliability: will she or won’t she back out at the last minute?

Showing up is crucial—when one takes on a role or task it’s expected that she will perform it. How, especially after repeated cancellations, can others continue to rely on and trust those who no longer seem reliable? Likely they can trust that the intentions are good, but good intentions never cleaned the church kitchen, taught a Sunday School lesson, or edited a manuscript. You need an actual person for that.

So this isn’t a bright line issue.

There’s a burden on the chronically ill person to know her limitations and establish firm boundaries, even if those boundaries are disappointing. Being on a particular board may be something really relevant, important, and desired, but if all the meetings start at 8pm and you need to be asleep by 8:30pm, then not accepting the board position to begin with is essential.

There are other roles, however, that are more fluid. Roles someone can more easily step into on the fly if needed, roles that can be quickly understood and executed. Roles where a bit of delay won’t actually cause as much of an issue as others might like to think it will.

There is definitely nuance to the conversation.

But the point here isn’t to delve into each possible scenario, rather it’s to bring a hard truth to the surface for conversation: though we are taught, preached to, advised, and counseled that “no” is a viable and even respectable option, the response received to it does not always correlate with that position.

As I write this, I’m wondering if some will think this is a pity party or indictment of my various communities.

I reject both of those notions.

Let me say that I am writing this only because I hope that by bringing a real-life experience to light, those on the receiving end of “nos” may reflect on their own responsibilities as leaders and respond the way we’re taught to believe they will: sympathetically, warmly, and with understanding.

I also hope that by reading this, those who need to take a step back from some responsibilities can go into the process as better-informed decision makers. Are there things you will lose, perhaps long-term? Will some—even those you think of as friends—respond with criticism? Will people second guess you? And worse—will you begin to second guess yourself? The answer to all of these questions is a resounding … maybe.

All this begs the question: should you say no if you don’t feel up to a yes? Yes! And should you say yes if it may sometimes be dotted with nos? Well, yeah, I think you should.

My mentor, who has her own chronic health issues, explained it this way: we don’t forgo our work in this world because of illness. Yet we don’t necessarily need to live it out in times of flares or in ways that push us to the brink. Instead, we establish systems and supports that can be put into place as needed. That is one of the many things community is for, and part of successful ministry is learning to use the strengths of community wisely.

As hard as some things have been post-season-of-nos, it was worth it. I got a significant-if-limited portion of health back, reconnected with my family and myself, and made radical life changes that I will continue to reap the benefits of in the years to come. There is nothing more important than that, even ministry, as we cannot give of ourselves if there’s nothing left to give.

 

 

Laundry Before Laughter: Day 1 of Lent

I’ve been asked a few times what I’m giving up for Lent. When asked that during Ash Wednesday service, I answered with a full and complete answer, but only because I got to write it down, ball it up, then burn it away. Sometimes we want to hide what we’re foregoing, because foregoing it admits that we did the thing we want to stop to begin with.

For the other times I was asked today, I responded with an honest “I don’t know,” because there are the things you give up on a piece of paper soon to be burned, and things you give up that you can say aloud to others. It was the outloud one I’d yet to land on.

There is a tendency, I think, to forgo things like TV, meat, cell phones … the types of things that bind us to worldly ways and impinge upon the parts of life deemed sacred. Family. Friends. Church. Community. The earth.

These things can sound trite on the surface—Christ died on the cross and you’re giving up (insert first-world luxury here)?!?— yet hold deep spiritual meaning for our lives. Do they directly address our mortality? Our sinfulness? Bring us to repentance? For some, they may.

For others, Lent is a time of self-improvement. An opportunity to quit sugar, or caffeine, or cooking-based reality shows so that we may become the healthier, more perfect earthling we think we’re meant to be.

As tempted as I am to focus on improving myself over the next 40 days, I know instead my inward reflection, my Forty-Day Habit of a Highly Effective Person, must go from the inside out. Besides, I really don’t want to give up cooking shows.

Earlier today I posted an article on my church’s private Facebook page regarding the health benefits of friendship. And last Sunday at my church’s annual meeting, we were made aware of a church-wide desire for stronger community and increased fellowship. Not the drink-bad-coffee-together fellowship, but the no-need-to-knock-just-come-on-in type. And today, after a long talk with old friends, I’ve spent a good portion of the afternoon reflecting on friendship or, more specifically, the society-wide, self-imposed lack thereof.

What used to be a rare ascetic practice of withdrawing from society has now become a sought-after daily act, removed from religion and all things spiritual, as we go from car to garage to house, shop without leaving our homes, text instead of talk, work all hours instead of finding time for play. And as much as I like staying in my sweats and ponytail all day, I know that our chosen isolation is harming our neighborhoods, our churches, and even our marriages and kids.

To right this wrong, I may just have to suck it up and put on a pair of jeans.

So in addition to the hidden things I burned to ash today, I have decided to give up complacent community. Complacent friendships. Complacent isolation. What does that mean, you ask? Well, I would argue it means exactly what it sounds like.

I’ve lost friends and family to death and misunderstandings, to long distances and opposing views, and yes, to laissez-faire attitudes towards community and friends. And yet I still too often take for granted the people in my life who bring me joy and better health. To be blunt, I’ve put laundry before laughter for far too long. The time has come for me to own up to that and fix it before it’s too late.

But this isn’t just an issue of living life fully and appreciating what I’ve got before it’s gone. It’s a deeply spiritual matter as well. It is only in community that we can realize our calling and how to live it out. It is our community that affirms—or not—what we think that calling is.

Ministry cannot be realized or fulfilled in isolation.

Our friendships themselves are microcosms of ministry, one to the other, a quid pro quo of the best sort. As we belong to Christ, we belong also to one another. Worship was never intended to be done individually and life was not meant to be lived alone. Our increased physical well-being when living in community bears that out. And in that way, perhaps foregoing complacent community is in fact a habit of highly effective people. Perhaps it is a self-improvement method equivalent to cutting out sugar or screens. But unlike those types of items, the sacrifice of which improves primarily our own health, sacrificing our complacent aloneness might just help us and those around us live a longer, fuller, and happier life.

Post-Christmas Gingerbread Dilemma: A Solution in Ten Easy Steps

I don’t entirely love making gingerbread houses with the kids at Christmastime, but I do like it. Even if I didn’t, I’d do it anyway because in the Book of Mom it says I’m supposed to. This year we had bonus gingerbread fun by not only making our own at home (and by “making” I don’t mean “baking”—thank you, Trader Joe’s!) and going to a super cool gingerbread house birthday party.

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Super fun gingerbread party!

Despite how much fun this was, it also meant we had double the sugary construction taking up space in the kitchen. Of course, that also means double the sneaking of candy pieces, double the arguments over whether or not Aaron stole Rachel’s gingerbread girl, and double the “what the heck do I do with these houses now,” come January.

Thinking others may face this same dilemma, I thought I’d share what I do to solve the problem of gingerbread overabundance.

Step one: Make the houses, cursing the mess and arguing with Rachel about whether she can use the stand mixer to make the icing because I’m distracted by something else. Chastise Aaron for continuing to eat the icing/candy/cookies without permission and then lying about it despite a face covered in royal icing. Notice that the kids forgot to put something under their houses and examine the sprinkles that have found their way into the cracks and crevices of our reclaimed wood table. Know that my mother will notice the sprinkles and tell me once again she hates my (super cool) tabletop and wants to make me a new one. Pretend she isn’t correct when she claims bacteria might grow in its artistic and funky blemishes.

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Step two: put the finished houses on top of the dog crate in the kitchen because there’s no other convenient place for them. Leave them exposed to the elements for one+ month because what the heck else am I supposed to do?

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Step three: alternate between chastising the kids (okay, just Aaron) for sneaking pieces off and pretending I didn’t notice them (him) sneaking pieces off.

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Step four: mediate fights over Rachel’s (usually well-founded) suspicion that Aaron stole her candy figures.

Step five: forget they exist (the houses, not the kids)

Step six: during the January 2nd (or post-Epiphany) take-down-the-decorations storm—because by now I am SO TIRED of the Christmas clutter—debate what to do what the houses. Warn the kids that I will soon need to get rid of them (again, houses, not kids). Respond to their protests by giving them an arbitrary deadline by which they need to have said their goodbyes.

Step seven: Notice the deadline has come and gone yet the houses remain and no child has said goodbye. Add on a couple more days because I struggle with consistency.

Step eight: after a few more days pass and my frustration with remaining Christmas decorations has reached a new high, break the houses into pieces so they’ll fit into Ziplocs bags. Put them on the top shelf of the pantry just in case someone breaks down in tears once they notice the neighborhood of gingerbread people has been razed for new development.

Step nine: After a random period of time has passed—say, three days to three months—and no child has noticed their absence, toss the gingerbread in the trash and put lots of other trash on top of so kids don’t see any evidence of parental meanness.

Step ten: develop idiopathic amnesia (or perhaps it was brought on by overindulgence in pumpkin-flavored items?) in November and buy more gingerbread kits from Trader Joe’s before they sell out, eagerly anticipating the family fun that will come from decorating them with the kids while sipping cocoa and listening to Christmas carols.

And that’s all! By following these ten easy steps, you too can rid yourself of leftover gingerbread houses, guaranteed!

Fiona Hill’s Defense of Women

Democrat, republican, or a member of the who-gives-a-damn party, anyone watching Dr. Fiona Hill’s testimony yesterday was surely impressed. Having watched the impeachment hearings from start to finish (I’m recovering from surgery so have had plenty of time on my hands for TV watching), I can say emphatically that she was the most impressive in a line of impressive witnesses. I use the word “impressive” here not necessarily referring to the content of testimony but rather to the poise and intelligence of the witnesses (even Sondland, whom I otherwise take issue with regarding both character and veracity).

But Dr. Hill… she blew them all away. Her no-nonsense attitude, clarity, poise, steeliness, and resolve were gratifying both because she’s a woman and because her expertise is a credit to career civil servants. I don’t know her politics (though she referenced both non-partisanship as well as leftist ideals in line with the UK, not US, definition of “left”) or personal history beyond what she disclosed. On the face of her performance, however, I stand by my complete takenness with Dr. Hill.

Importantly, Dr. Hill stood firmly in defense of herself, Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, and Congresswoman Stefanik in the face of sexist treatment. These women have been bullied by primarily white, primarily male politicos, and, in Stefanik’s instance, support of male bullying by those on the left who would—and do—cry foul at similar treatment of women by the right has reeked of hypocrisy. I have little doubt that Dr. Hill has faced bias throughout her career in a male-dominated field. Knowing this, I wondered if this bias is what has led, at least in part, to her steely, no-nonsense demeanor. Men often label women’s anger and indeed any show of emotion as histrionic, and women seeking respect and career advancement must quash emotional responses, whether those responses are warranted or not.

Earlier this morning, President Trump stated on Fox and Friends that he was told by others in his administration they had to be “nice” to Ambassador Yovanovitch because “she’s a woman.” This is disturbing whether it’s true President Trump was actually told this or whether it’s a fictitious account. No, women do not need to be treated “nice” because they are women. Kindness is a trait we should all work to demonstrate, but in the hard-knock world of politics it’s absurd to expect genteel kindness based on gender. President Trump’s statement furthers discriminatory treatment and hiring practices by giving credence to a belief that women in the workplace will require special treatment and kid gloves lest they break down in tears, scream in anger, or lodge a harassment suit against unkind treatment.

Dr. Hill’s testimony lays this myth bare, exposing it for the fiction it is. Anger at times is warranted, such as when one is being undermined in their jobby others acting in direct opposition. In this precise circumstance, Ambassador Sondland characterized Dr. Hill’s anger as “emotional,” to which Dr. Hill replied, “Often when women show anger, it’s not fully appreciated. It’s often, you know, pushed on to emotional issues or perhaps deflected onto other people.”

Indeed.

I applaud Dr. Hill for refusing to allow that kind of disregard and disparagement go unchecked, whether it is against her, her colleague Ambassador Yovanavitch, or congresswoman Stefanik. Sexism is not bound by political party and our reactions to it should not be, either. Dr. Hill’s across-the-board calling out of bias is either proof of her non-partisanship, proof of her deep belief in gender equity, or proof of both. As we continue along our political journeys in a deeply divided United States, I strongly urge us all to remember and emulate her example. Disagreements over policy, candidates, and politics are one thing, but disagreement over equitable treatment of our shared humanity is simply not debatable.