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*I know that giving your child up is the most gracious and risky form of love that exists. Because your child is yours for ever while a foster child cannot be.* [Page 132]

[“The sea hides the stars.” Original title “Il mare nasconde le stelle” by Francesca Barra]


I was about to land when I read this sentence which gave me the idea of talking about motherhood with Collettivo Antigone.

I decided I would speak about those mothers – they are many – who welcome creatures they haven’t given birth to. Those mothers who interpret motherhood in a wider and more inclusive sense. Those women who feel a strong responsibility towards Life, even if they didn’t generate it.

The “issue of migrants” is often dealt with inadequately and impersonally. In particular, we do not pay due attention to unaccompanied minors. And it is this very fact that seems to be even more complicated and less understandable. I am often asked: “What mother would allow her child to face a boat trip after crossing the desert and having lived in a prison? How can they separate from their children?”. They do not consider that when confronted by extreme situations, the solutions cannot be otherwise.  It almost seems an accusation….As if those mothers were less motherly than the others. As if those mothers didn’t carry their creatures for nine months like any other mother.

As a woman, while reading Remon’s story, I thought about Marilena who welcomed him in her house, she learnt to know him and accepts to share his heart with his biological mother and knows that he could fly away any minute. I tried to imagine her anguish, the doubts that can torment a woman who receives with open arms a new life. But the only thing I managed to do is to admire her greatly. As I admire other special mums I know and who have honoured me by deciding to share their feelings. These women often pursue such a drastic choice on their own, abandoned by the silent and indifferent institutions, stigmatized by the surrounding environment.

I also thought about Francesca, the author of the book, who accepted this enormous challenge and become the voice and the pen of such a dramatic story. She understood the importance of creating a memory for this act of courage and opened her heart to Remon, Marilena, her husband Carmelo and, in a way, to Augusta. Once you have listened to the stories of those coming from the waves, you can never turn back: accepting these creatures’ pain, making it yours, interiorising it and living with it changes everything.

Therefore, I dedicate this Mother’s Day, which is indefinitely celebrated, to these Women who are the only ones who can truly save us from the brutality of all times. And to those mothers who for whatever reason had to part with their creatures.

I also dedicate it to my Mother, who never told me off for going back home for my holiday and yet never seeing her. She never complained when, in order to spend some time with me, she had to come to the “scuole Verdi” (TN school where the author gives Italian lessons to the minors arriving in Augusta). Eventually she only said, “Let me know how many of you are coming for lunch. We have to make a good impression.” She understood that it was crucial for me that she widened her arms even more and made space for these children who are not hers. She is a Mother, always.

It’s also for my aunt who resolves all my interior conflicts and geopolitical ramblings with a authoritative solution: “I don’t care about anything. The kids must eat well.”

One thing is sure: In my house, we measure love in kilos.

By Maria Grazia Patania

Translator F. Colantuoni