a bad mother goes to gaza

May 5, 2010 § 10 Comments

thinking of going to gaza.  srsly.  the calling to go is getting stronger and stronger.  and now that aza is three years old (omg she is three!) some switch has clicked in my head where i feel able and responsible to leave her for longer periods of time.

i have been following the free gaza movement for the past couple of years.  doing some media work for the project and support for our friend theresa in scotland who has done amazing work for free gaza.  she was on the boat that first broke the israeli blockade and landed safely in gaza in 2008.  a truly incredible story of solidarity.  i have watched this free gaza movement and feel that they have done some of the best work i have seen on radical solidarity.  making honest relationships with people w/in gaza.  and challenging the israeli military.

right now they are organizing a flotilla to break the blockade.

On May 24, 2010, the Freedom Flotilla sets sail for Gaza determined to, once again, challenge Israel’s blockade of 1.5 million Palestinians trapped in an open-air prison. Under the coordination of the Free Gaza Movement, numerous human rights organizations, including the Turkish Relief Foundation (IHH), the Perdana Global Peace Organization from Malaysia, the European Campaign to End the Siege of Gaza, and the Swedish and Greek Boat to Gaza initiatives will send three cargo ships loaded with reconstruction, medical and educational supplies. At least five passenger boats with over 600 people on board will accompany the cargo ships.These passengers include members of Parliament from around the world, U.N., human rights and trade union activists, as well as journalists who will document the largest coordinated effort to directly confront Israel’s illegal blockade of Gaza and take in basic supplies.

if the flotilla gets to gaza, there will be a lot more opportunities to join more ships and boats going to gaza in the upcoming months.

i was talking to a friend this weekend about me going to gaza. and he said i was being irresponsible to aza, to leave her for so long and do something *so* dangerous.  my response to him was: yep, im a bad mother.  even before i was pregnant i had planned on being a ‘bad mother’.  habibi and i have had long talks about the fact that our work may mean that one of us will not be available (in jail, in the field, etc.) as a day to day parent for her at times.  and i can see how some people, most people, would consider that i (esp. me because i am the mama) am being so irresponsible and unloving to my daughter to leave her (with her father) for my own ‘selfish’ need to support the freedom and survival of others.

all i can say in response. is that when i was first envisioning having a child, i prayed and meditated with that baby spirit, explaining who i was, who we were, asking that spirit to be strong, to know that i love her too much to not fight for her freedom. and that we are only free, when we are supporting the freedom of others.  that this love is not theoretical, something nice and tidy that i read in a book, and then go back to my socially approved life.  that her baby spirit felt and knew that i refused to let my love be a practice of hypocrisy and giving into fear.

but honestly, i could talk and write until i was blue in the face.  and either you get it or you dont.  and if you dont, too bad for you.  spending my energy and time justifying my love to people who dont love me enough to trust me…is a waste of my time.  when my time is precious.  my freedom is precious.  my daughter is precious.  and so are the daughters and sons and mamas and hajjis in gaza.

anyways, my friend stared at me w/ a puzzled look.  and then dropped his shoulders and said.  well, i guess i am defensive because i feel like i should do something about what is happening in palestine.

and i told him.  this isnt about what your response should be.  you have to figure that out for yourself.  im not judging you.  im saying what i need to do.

because i love my daughter too much to be a good mother.

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§ 10 Responses to a bad mother goes to gaza

  • Aaminah says:

    i find it honestly ridiculous that people would question you being away from your daughter to do something that helps create a better world for her – considering that the people who are telling you that probably spend 10 hours or more each day out in an office or otherwise working plus travel time – away from their kids, probably pay for tutors rather than helping their kids with homework, probably wouldn’t think twice about having to fly somewhere around the world for “business”, and probably wouldn’t think twice about taking a promotion that required them to go work somewhere to live for months before they were able to bring the family along.

    so, bad parent if you want to do something GOOD for society because it doesn’t pay you. If only they’d be honest enough to say that. It’s about the fact that you aren’t getting PAID to do it so they can’t fathom why you would do it. and it says something about their lack of hope or love for others that they don’t think you should even bother.

    • mama says:

      yes. yes. yes. it is so funny how if i had a job that meant i had spend three months out of the year away from my daughter…that would be okay…if habibi had to do it –he would be praised to the hills. but how dare we as a people focus on what we can give, rather than what we can take.
      and yes. to the military example as well. i mean it breaks my heart some of the stories i read about the military mamas being punished because they cant find care for their children. and it breaks my heart that we have created a world where mamas have to go and put their lives on the line (often for shit that they dont believe in, and certainly, they didnt start…) for oil and empire.
      and of course the friend of mine, is in the military, is not the primary caretaker of his son, actually has very little contact w/ his incredibly cute son. and brushes all of that off with–the mother is the one who raises the child. the father is just who the kid plays with.
      yeah. im going to take parenting advice from this guy…right…
      ah aaminah i will email you soon…god, i have learned so much in the past couple of weeks…ha ha ha…

  • Aaminah says:

    oh, and you know, i wish those people would hollar “bad” mother/father at military personnel who leave their kids & spouses behind for months, even years. they think they are doing something good by doing it. how exactly is killing people more appropriate than healing people? which parent sucks?

  • IU says:

    This is a great post and I think it fits perfectly with your last post about having it all as long as you are not worried about societal approval. I am a young woman who is considering not having children for many reasons, including the difficulties of balancing motherhood and activism.

    Your blog gives me hope. thank you

    • mama says:

      ah. yes. it is a strange world mothering and activism. but we do it. mothering can make you stronger than you ever imagined. make me willing to fight for what i love in a way that i didnt before being a mama. makes me more invested in the world and life. and strips away that which is not important to me so that i can focus on what is…it is a strange gift this mamahood. 😉 in love.

  • thank you *so much* for writing this.

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