A mother’s letter to her daughter in the time of COVID-19

"I see that you are already getting used to disappointments. And that makes me very sad. But I also know you will become a kinder, smarter and more compassionate person because of it."

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You are growing up in a difficult time. The world is at a tipping point, and you and your generation are going to be the ones who decide which way things go.

It’s not fair that you have been put in this position. Many people who have come before you have not met their responsibilities to take care of this world and the people in it. We had a responsibility to protect the planet and build a bright future for our children that we have not fulfilled. I myself wonder if there is more I could have done. I’m sure there’s enough blame to go around. But here we are with a global health crisis, a climate crisis, a political crisis and a moral crisis. And I’m not going to pretend that things are good or that any of this is easy.

Many generations lived through difficult times. My mother lived through the Great Depression, World War II, the Vietnam War and more. Unfortunately, now it is your turn, as you are living in a strange and stressful time in history. It breaks my heart, because all I wanted for you was to have a happy childhood. I know for many reasons this has not been easy.

I saw a chart in the newspaper the other day listing the “risk level” of various activities — going to the playground, seeing a movie, visiting an elderly relative, etc. All I could think was how nice every single one of those activities once was. Now we have to be concerned about endangering our health and that of others with every decision we make. You are being denied so much that is supposed to be a part of childhood, including social interactions and learning opportunities and connection with extended family.

What’s needed right now is for us to make the best of a terrible situation. COVID-19 is a horrible disease, and we still do not know enough about it. The world is learning more every day, but good science takes time, and people are very impatient these days. We have lived in a time where so many of us have gotten used to getting anything we have wanted, almost immediately, with a click of a button. It’s a shock to our systems when that doesn’t happen. “No” is a word most Americans have not often heard.

It was not this way when I was growing up, but my generation has grown up to a different world. We have become accustomed to “having it our way.” It will be different for you. I see that you are already getting used to disappointments. And that makes me very sad. But I also know you will become a kinder, smarter and more compassionate person because of it.

The goal I have for our family is to stay safe. This will take patience and an ability to adjust. Science will catch up to COVID, and we will learn even more about how it’s transmitted, who’s at risk and how best to test for it, treat it and prevent it. But right now, we must be patient and stay safe.

I know it must feel like life is passing you by, but I will do everything in my power to make up to you every day that you have lost. I will also try to make every day as wonderful as I can for you, and I will try to think of ways that we can do things safely.
You can lean on me. You can cry on my shoulder or tell me when you’re angry or bored or scared. I get it. It’s difficult. I am here for you. And I will help you try to figure out how to make the best of it.

Hopefully, we can figure out how to build a future that is still bright for all of us and still have some fun along the way. I know this might not seem like much consolation. But you will be a better, stronger, even more amazing person for having gone through all of this.
You know how much I look up to my own mom. It’s because she struggled so many times, but always came through it better than ever, with a sweet, sunny smile and a kind, loving heart. Every woman I look up to is this way. It’s not that nothing bad ever happened to them, it’s that they handled it.

It’s also why I look up to you. I am so proud that you are my daughter. You are so talented and beautiful and smart and fun and kind. But you also have gone through some stuff. And you have come through it better and more wonderful than ever.

I love you so much. I hope that I can be a great mom to you always. I hope we always have a great relationship. You are my joy in life. You are my Sunshine Girl! And because of you, I have hope for the world.