Parenting and War

Parenting and War

We avoid talking about the war in front of our children. We also don’t watch tv broadcasts nor we listen to any news in the house. So my children don’t have any direct information about the suffering of Palestine right now. Yet, both Marcin and I have been struggling to cope with all the news since October, which makes me wonder how witnessing the assassination of so many children is impacting the raising of our own.

One of the most frequent conversations about parenthood that Marcin and I have had these past four years (that is, since Helena was born) is about the shock and feeling of interruption that we experienced when we became parents. This shock, we came to understand, is a constructed lack of knowledge about the value and transformative power of parenting, as well as a continuous misinformation and propaganda against children, the value of human life and love. Let it be clear that I don’t assume that everyone needs to become parents to learn what Marcin and I have learnt these years, but I do feel that our experience isn’t singular in our society or our generation. Let the lack of governmental and institutional support towards parental leave coupled with the crisis in childcare speak towards my argument.

In any case, as I’ve been contemplating this question of the shock of war and the shock of parenting, I came to realize how both participate in the capitalist and colonial construction of our sensibility. Both events are presented to us as moments of total destruction of our material and daily lives, as if a complete erasure of ourselves is possible. Here, I might highlight the experience of motherhood as being stronger than that of fatherhood in this context. We are asked to either “bounce back” or to completely forget who we were, going “from maiden to mother.”

Today, as I worked on an application for a professor position after a couple of years giving up the possibility of having a permanent job at an university while I took in the impact that becoming a mother had in my career, I was reminded of the continuity of life and, more importantly, the strength and permanence of culture. The shock, the destruction, the ending of lives, and the insurmountable loss particularly in war are real. Yet, the continuation, the rearranging, and, most importantly, the expansion of life is ALWAYS stronger than any system created to shock and paralyze our humanity.

Ideas that separate professional life from parenthood, and that erase personal life from public life are the same ones that isolate parents to care for their children alone, request artists not to engage in politics, and sustain the possibility of war. What a war proposes, beyond its blunt material destruction and loss of human life, is on fact, impossible: any culture built from it will inevitably carry forward the love, the imagination, the dreams and desires that violence tried to squash. I recognize that my vision might be madly optimistic, however, judging by experience, anything that capitalist systems tried to squander in my life — in the case of this text, motherhood — came back to be lived absolutely profoundly and in total power.

Free Palestine. Free the children and their parents. Free the artists. Free our love for life.