Today I hate my blog. I think it’s trivial, frivolous and irrelevant, and frankly I’m a bit embarrassed by it.
If you think that’s a bit strong, a bit of an over reaction to some aimiable light hearted waffle about the joys of parenting, here’s why: http://mobile.reuters.com/news/picture/the-struggles-of-migrant-mothers?articleId=USRTS26WW&utm_source=twitter
It’s so easy, when you watch the news about the refugee crisis, to keep yourself separate from the awfulness of it by viewing those involved as somehow “other” than us. Yes, it’s terrible what’s happening but somehow because they have different clothes and speak a different language, and we can’t quite understand what they’re saying when the TV cameras film them jostling at train stations – somehow that allows us to turn the TV off and carry on with our lives without just sitting and crying at how awful it really is.
But sometimes certain visual images or particular stories can break through the comfortable force field surrounding us. This series of photos, all of refugee mothers with their children, touched me because I saw myself and my own children in them. Those familiar looks and gestures we all share – the way your arms and back ache carrying the tired child who’s really getting too heavy, but you still do carry them because the way they wrap themselves round you is actually kind of comforting. The way you kneel behind them to brush their hair, and the stooped shoulders you get from always looking down to see where they are. Right now there are mothers trying to make it across the borders of Europe, whose crying babies deprive them of sleep, mothers whose backs ache, who shush and comfort and kiss bruised knees and whisper bedtime stories – just like I do. It’s just they don’t have the bedroom full of toys and the kitchen full of food to fall back on, only a few possessions in a rucksack and the shelter of a railway station.
It’s a huge effort to get my family packed and out of the door for a weekend break. I cannot imagine how horrendous my home would have to be, how dangerous, how utterly intolerable, for me to just leave with my kids and what I could carry, and set off without any idea where I’d be sleeping or getting the next meal from. If hundreds of thousands of people are all making the same desperate journey then it can only be because staying still is no longer an option. To believe that they’re doing it for the sake of “stealing our benefits” really is to believe that they are “other” than us, less sensible of their own and their children’s safety, less human.
I know there’s not a great deal I can do about events unfolding in other parts of the world, but nevertheless I do feel a bit shallow when I look at some of my recent blog posts about my trivial little first world problems. It’s easy to forget, when you’re rushing round every day, that I am incredibly lucky if the worst I have to worry about is my children’s TV habits. So many mothers would love to have a life as safe and comfortable as mine.
I hadn’t yet got round to making a donation or doing anything to support charities working with refugees but I think it’s time I did. I typed “refugee crisis” into Google and these are the top three charities it brought up. I’m going to research what each of them does and choose one to send a donation to. Will you do the same? Or if you have donated to another charity who are supporting refugees, who are they and why?