Caregiver Testimonial 8

From Cecilia Enjuto Rangel, romance languages:

I am an Associate Professor of Spanish and Director of Graduate Studies, and throughout my career I have been struggling to keep up with the pace of my many academic duties and responsibilities, while enjoying motherhood and its many challenges. We have three kids, ages 10, 8, and 5. Fortunately, during the COVID-19 pandemic, I have been able to share our family’s many responsibilities with my husband, who is also Associate Professor of Spanish and Director of Latin American Studies. This Spring I did not have to teach because I was going to concentrate on my research. Besides my duties as DGS, and the academic and emotional labor it meant, I was also supposed to focus on writing while homeschooling the kids. If I had two zoom meetings in a day, this meant it was 2 to 3 hours of PBS kids or documentaries so that we would not be interrupted during our meetings. Because working with kids at home means constant interruption. I did manage to write a book chapter by sleeping less and waking up at 5:30 a.m. many days. By 9:30 a.m., working on my research is something I can manage in intervals, often responding to emails late at night.  There is not a clear line between my “personal time” and “university time.” We work during the weekends, at night, and in the middle of the day, whenever we can take turns and hide in our study.

Caregiving in our house is not only limited to our kids. We talk to our moms every day a few times a day, and deal with family problems even though we live far away. For us, not being able to visit our families abroad has been and will be difficult to cope with. For example, one of the main sources of personal anxiety for me during the pandemic is having my mom in Puerto Rico, sick with Alzheimer and cancer, and not being able to visit her under this health crisis. Caregiving takes many shapes, but it has always been undervalued in our society.

Furthermore, during the pandemic, we have had to deal with new challenges, not only teaching our kids through computers, books, games, puzzles, and art projects, but also giving them strategies to cope with anxiety and their very real fear of death. Many of us have been teaching our kids about the importance of being anti-racist and anti-fascist, and how there are many ways to show solidarity with others. As scholars who teach and research on the cultural and political history of fascism in Spain and Latin America, current threats to our democratic system and the right to protest really affected our family, as it has affected many members of our communities. We believe Black Lives Matters, and we believe that we all have to participate in reaching social and racial justice. The pandemic and the fight against police brutality have intensified the many inequalities prevalent in our society. Trying to focus on doing research under these unprecedented circumstances has been to say the least very challenging. Just writing this testimony meant I was interrupted by my kids at least seven times. We need an institutional ethics of care, where we defy the heteropatriarchal definitions of family and caregiving, that really practices our mission of valuing diversity and inclusion. The CSWS is leading real institutional reform that affects many of us through our Campaign for Caregivers.

—Cecilia Enjuto Rangel

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