Rediscovering my Daughter during COVID19
Updated: Sep 23, 2020
From March 6--August 28, 2020, I was with my 21-year old daughter every minute of every day – over 5 months of nonstop togetherness. About half way through this time, I realized that in our 21 years, this was the first time we had been together this much.
When she was a baby, my mom took care of her during the day so that I could work full-time and finish my Ph.D. dissertation. Then she went to daycare until she went to primary and secondary school; I’d be with her in the morning and after work. And eventually, she went to college. Of course my daughter was home from college in the summers, but I still worked during the day so I didn’t get to spend time with her beyond an early breakfast and when I got home after work. COVID19 gave us the longest, uninterrupted period of time together in both of our lives.
Prior to COVID19, I considered us close. We have a deep love for each other and share nearly everything. Our relationship is built on respect, care, laughter, curiosity, honesty, love and even the pain that we have both endured in our lives. I honestly didn’t think that we could possibly get to know each other more deeply. What I failed to realize is that COVID19 was giving me an opportunity to get to know my daughter as a young woman, as an adult, and this would be one of the most beautiful gifts and opportunities I’ve ever received.
Part of our COVID19 routine (before she left to go back to college) was walking – we walked a minimum of 10,000 steps per day and usually more – and we would talk on our walks. We talked about anything and everything from the mundane to the controversial. We shared our dreams, our fears, our frustrations, and our joys. Although we had walked together for years – all over the world – these walks were more intense and focused on where the world was going – where we were going. We talked about our mistakes, about not dwelling on the past and instead looking forward. We talked about how important it is to see the joy in every single day and each of the moments. We talked about wanting people to be kinder to each other, more forgiving, and more loving. We even talked about leaving the United States for a quieter life, one in which we could embrace our love of joy, solitude, and peacefulness. We talked about how much we were alike, how much we had in common, and what we were willing to do for each other. And, most of all, we laughed, so much.
Just like many other people, we cooked meals together every day during quarantine. Cooking together wasn’t new for us as we have been doing it for years. However, I decided to use the time to teach her many of the things that my mom taught me – lessons that I had yet to pass on to her. And as we revisited those lessons or learned them for the first time, we talked and talked and talked and laughed. We were two women in the kitchen talking about sexism, and men, and women, and relationships, and politics, and health, and the comfort of various foods.
During all of these conversations, I began to notice so much about my daughter. I listened closely to her opinions and perspectives, and how she had formed them. Of course, her ideas are shaped by mine, but they are not mine. She is well read across many genres – even those I’m not familiar with. When we travel – regardless of where it is – she takes it all in and learns from the experiences. As she talked, I began to envision the woman she will be –kind and caring, thoughtful and curious, dedicated to her career yet loyal and attentive to her family, and committed to justice.
By the time she left to return to college, we were both stunned by how much we had learned about each other, how much more deeply we confided in each other, the ways we supported each other, and how much we truly enjoyed each other’s company. Although we are apart now, and miss each other greatly, I’m confident in her ability to make good decisions, to ask for help when she needs it, and to navigate her path in life.Despite being daunting and frightening at times, COVID19 has had a silver lining for our relationship. Neither of us knows what the future holds, but we discovered that for us, it must hold each other for a lifetime.