For the first time, after almost three years, I caught COVID-19. Every time we think that this virus has played its last note, it comes back for an unwanted encore performance. And that it did. It was rough, terrible and is still using my body as its germy playground. But more than it being an uncomfortable few days, it also sent us back into the trauma and mental games of quarantine.
Every one of my family members got sick. High fevers, chills, and mucus galore and a drastic dip in mood and level of patience. I rediscovered my ability to be both a winning and sub-par mother, all at once and even though the creepy virus sat amongst us we managed to find small moments of sweetness in the raw meat of being quarantined together in an apartment that we have outgrown, once again.
In the moments that I spent avoiding work and sulking, I tried to at least keep my poor kids sane with creative lunacy to entertain them and myself. We made pizza from scratch. I introduced my daughter to Beyonce’s “Who Run the World?” (The answer is girls.) And we got lost in conversation, random thoughts on death and fires by a four year old and lots of dance parties. (You’ve never lived until you’ve gotten down with a household of sick kids, dogs that need to go out, and 90s hip-hop.)
As we were winding down after a long and surprisingly smooth day (during our week of quarantine,) my daughter turned to me and said, “Ema, will you get me new pajamas? I think that mine are small?” Before I could answer, she corrected herself and said, “Actually, I am not asking, I am telling you that I need new pajamas.”
This little girl who was entering a less little girl phase of her life, knew how to stand up for herself. She knew how to tell me what she needed and not wait for it to happen. I was proud of this self-assured person who continued and continues to surprise me at every moment.
And as I was thinking about what she asked and how I should have already ordered her, the pajamas (what a terrible mother I must be to not realize that she needed new pajamas,) it dawned on me that she was walking in the shoes of the amazing ladies, the daughters of Zelophad in parshat Pinchas who demanded their share of fair treatment in a patriarchal society.
Her comment to me wasn’t radical nor a bring down of the patriarchy, but it showed me the power of a girl who knows how to use her voice. It showed me that we sing songs about girls running the world by Beyonce because seemingly it is not status quo, even today for girls to know that they can speak up.
Quarantine has since ended. I am a bit worse for wear after an intense week, but I know that somehow I have raised my daughter to walk in the shoes of the daughters of Zelophad; not waiting for the world to give her what she needs, but using their voice, making their point and making a seat at the table for herself.
Here’s to the wisdom of children, a healthy world, and people advocating for what they need.