Belly Buttons & Makeba

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Belly Buttons & Makeba

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Most people probably don’t think of belly buttons when they think of a pandemic. They likely also don’t think of the South African Activist Miriam Makeba. However, when I consider the earliest days of covid, those days before I realized I would be teaching online for an extended time, or that my Varsity Lacrosse players whom I had coached through their careers would never step on a field for our 2020 season, my life was all about belly buttons and a song called Makeba by a French Singer-Songwriter.

In April of 2020, schools in Michigan closed, sending me home with every other educator to figure out online teaching. Also at this time, my daughter, Edie, was just over one year old. She was very fond of her “Beluh-but’n” (bellybutton) and ran around the house proudly showing hers off, thinking she was hilarious. To her credit, it was hilarious, and also adorable. She had recently heard the song Makeba by Jain on a BMX video featuring my husband from when he used to ride professionally, and it became her anthem. Even at three years old, she still requests Makeba in the car, though today it is second to David Bowie or Vampire Weekend these days. She would dance to it on repeat, her little feet on her ABC play mat making a sticky pitter-patter, her arms swinging wildly, and her diapered baby butt dropping low like she was in a nightclub. She was, and still is, one of the funniest little humans I have encountered. The attached sound clips are recorded from a video of Edie, my daughter, strumming my guitar on its stand, while singing her version of Makeba. These videos are some of my favorites, her head bobbing and bum wiggling with her music. These are the sounds that filled my house and my heart throughout those first weeks of quarantine, and they still bring me nothing but immense joy and thankfulness.

Covid for me meant more time at home with her. I was there when she woke up, we spent much of our days outside in the warming spring weather, and I nursed her and tucked her in for naps and at bedtime. We were lucky, we did not face financial crisis or unemployment, nor did we or our loved ones fall seriously ill. The result was time at home together as a family. While the restrictions and isolations of covid did mount over time, and stress of restrictions were certainly felt during my second pregnancy for my baby boy born in May of 2021, by and large, our lives just kept moving. We adjusted, we kept a small circle of trusted friends and family, and we were cautious. But when it came down to it, covid to me will always be marked by extra time with my daughter, time that I would not have had if the pandemic did not change everything about our lives. I wouldn’t trade the extra moments of her laughter, dancing, snuggles, or silliness for the world.

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This item was submitted on May 24, 2022 by [anonymous user] using the form “Share Your Story” on the site “A Journal of the Plague Year”:

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