Today I made a TikTok video with my daughter
I wasn’t very good in it. I’m stiff, lacking her moves and finesse, and I’m about a half a beat behind her through the entire thing.
It was harder than I thought it would be and I had a terrible time learning the moves. I felt old. My daughter thought it was the funniest thing ever. She showed me the moves over and over, in an exaggerated, slowed-down fashion, and giggled at me every time I got it wrong for over an hour. She giggled at me for being so stiff. I giggled at her giggling at me. It was good to see genuine joy on her face.
It was really fun doing a TikTok with my daughter
And even though I’m not very good in the video, we are both smiling wide during it the entire time.
See, the thing is, she’s been obsessed with TikTok for a while…as many 13 year olds are. In the last year or so, she’s asked me to watch a thousand videos she loves. I’d watch one and then tell her I was too busy to watch anymore. She’d “renegade” in the middle of the store, and I’d tell her to stop. She’d take over the living room trying to learn the dances and get irritated when I walked in the background. I’d get irritated at her for telling me where I can and cannot walk.
In short, I didn’t have time for TikTok. I didn’t have time for her.
We all have the same story: So busy we don’t seem to have time for anything. Work and school, homework, dinner (often on the road), practices/games, shower, bedtime later than it should be. Get up and do it all again the next day.
This is scary stuff. I have an immunocompromised mother to worry about. A pregnant sister-in-law, who is also a nurse, to worry about. As a single mother, I worry not only about what will happen at work, but what will happen at my ex-husband’s work and how I’ll make it by if either of us loses our job.
We’ve been home from school and work for weeks and are under a shelter-in-place order in our state. Just like everyone, I saw all of the moms on Facebook putting together homeschooling schedules for their children. But I only have one daughter, and she is very responsible.
In fact, she is a little too responsible: She suffers from anxiety and is in therapy to cope with it. She would have laughed at any schedule I made, telling me she was already ahead on all her work.
I decided to let my daughter do her own thing
So I decided to just let her do her thing. The schoolwork is encouraged, but not required, by school. I know if I told her she didn’t have to do it, that would create much more anxiety for her. So she works in the morning to get it out of the way, but then I let her veg out and let her do what she wants the rest of the day. I decided being isolated at home was just the opportunity she needed to relax.
We read and we take a walk every day. She probably spends too much time in front of screens, but I don’t really care because she also spends time daydreaming in silence. She doodles and draws while listening to music. She journals. She makes slime.
These are things she enjoys, but never has time to do.
Since we’ve been home, she has been visibly happier. She is less stressed, more relaxed. She laughs and is silly. She smiles more. She wants to help me more around the house. She wants me to sit closer to her and spend more time with her.
We get up when we want, not from an alarm. We make big meals, and linger over them. We are more productive in fewer hours with our work. We spend quality time together.
My daughter’s life makes her anxious
In this time of extreme anxiety for most of the world, my kid is less anxious than ever. That has really hit me hard. I realized she’s not exactly an anxious kid, but that her life makes her anxious.
A month ago, if I had asked anyone how they were, they’d respond with, “Busy.” Everyone was busy. Too busy. Feeling overwhelmed, feeling like they never had enough time for everything, feeling like they just weren’t getting it all done in a day.
I wish the circumstances surrounding this isolation were different; I’m scared and paranoid and fearful about what the future holds. But I’m also grateful we are in this isolation. It has given us a chance to slow down, a chance to regroup, a chance to reconnect.
I hope that when this is all over, and life returns to “normal,” the “normal” will look different. I hope we all take this as an opportunity to reset. I hope we continue to slow down and take family walks and cook delicious meals and daydream. I hope we remember what is most important. I hope we take the time to engage in our children’s passions.
I know I’ll be making more TikToks.
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Jennifer L. Grybowski is the mom of a teenage daughter, who is fierce, smart, and best friend material. She is a freelance writer and journalist who enjoys baking, working out, and navigating the single mom life with her best girlfriends. She also occasionally enjoys making TikTok videos