Motherhood Pause for Thought Siblings

Aleppo, and the story of an extra Christmas present


I came here this evening with every intention of just writing a happy chatty sort of Siblings post, full of our stories from the last month, but I find I can’t.

I looked at my pictures of my gorgeous, happy, safe, thriving children, who are all tucked up snug in their own beds in their own homes, and the contrast between them and the stories of the horrific scenes unfolding in Aleppo broke my heart.

Innocent civilians, and far too many of them children, caught up in a war they didn’t want, in a home neighbourhood which they can’t get out of when evacuation attempts keep being blocked by one militia or the other, fearing for their safety at the hands of both sides and no-one in the rest of the world seeming to care enough to do anything about it.

It makes me so frustrated to see actions being described as “probably genocide” but no government doing anything to actually stop it while it’s happening.  It’s no good sending in drones and spy planes to record evidence of war crimes and telling them all off in the future, it’s as much use to the people on the ground as someone videoing a burglary but not actually telling the police that it’s happening until afterwards.

It’s made writing about the little moments of daily life as a family of five seem rather trivial.  I know that they’re not; not really.  When Val McDermid spoke at Blogfest last year she said that the arts is a peaceful way in which we fight back against those who would have our lives ruled by fear, and she’s absolutely right; creativity allows a freedom that cannot comfortably coexist with terror and it has been a weapon against oppression since time immemorial.  Recognising that gives us the freedom to keep on blogging about parenting and knitting, and to do the parenting and knitting itself without being overwhelmed by some of the truly horrible things going on in the world today.

And yet what I’d really like to do right now is get leaders from both sides in a room and shout “have you lost your mind?!”.  Or, even better I’d send Samantha Power whose eloquent speech to the United Nations brought tears to my eyes.

My experience with tantruming toddlers suggests it probably wouldn’t make much difference anyway.  So we’ve done the only practical thing we can do; support the people who are trying to help.  For us it’s in the form of donations to the British Red Cross and Medicin Sans Frontieres, and fervent prayer that the latest attempts at an evacuation succeed.  The donations are roughly what we would spend on a Christmas present if we suddenly acquired an extra family member, and if I’m going to have a Christmas wish this year, wouldn’t it be wonderful if so many people gave an extra present’s worth of donation that the charities trying to pick up the pieces of countries torn apart by greed, jealousy and intolerance, had enough funding do give physical practical help where we can’t.

And I’m sorry if this post feels gloomy when December should be pictures of the children in Christmas jumpers and stories of their nativity plays and all the rest.  That will come (my Christmas holidays start next Wednesday and I can’t wait to be at home with the family) we’re all happy and healthy and starting to get into the flurry of Christmas preparations but to write that post without also writing this felt too much as if it was pasting a glossy front over how I truly feel at the moment: thankful that I can keep my little trio safe, incredibly grateful for what we have, and frustrated to the point of angry that I cannot say the same for the families in Aleppo.

Space for the Butterflies; Siblings 2016 December

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  • Ailsa 15/12/2016 at 9:11 am

    What’s happened in Syria is horridous! And then there is Yemen!

  • Doris 15/12/2016 at 11:56 am

    Thank you.

  • JoanneLloyd 15/12/2016 at 4:33 pm

    Thank you Carie. This needed to be said. Only yesterday I was having a similar conversation with a friend and you have encapsulated it so well.