Meeting the First Man
This post first appeared on MyMamihood.com
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.
Everything 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.
- Kristin rocks and I will be super nervous
- 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!
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?