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Siblings 2016: December


My post for this months Siblings took a bit of a detour; I felt very conflicted about writing about happy things, when the news from Aleppo was so desperate, and so this is really the second part of a blog that I posted earlier today.  It seemed to be pasting over the cracks to simply post a chatty sort of Siblings post when the “probably genocide” going on in Syria is in equal parts upsetting and frustrating.  But writing it out, and reminding myself of the reasons why three United Nations member states entirely taking leave of their humanity doesn’t make recording my story of motherhood stupid or trivial, I found that I can want to write about both Aleppo and about these three little monkeys on their playhouse.

Space for the Butterflies; Siblings 2016 December

And monkeys is the right word for these three little cherubs.

“Just lean on the fence and smile at Mummy”

I suspect that if you’re going to make a habit out of taking pictures of your children, it’s unreasonable to suppose that they will never be in a mischief mood and this was my photoshoot of mischief.  They were happy to have their pictures taken, I’ll always stop if they don’t want to be photographed, but were also in a very giggly mood.

And so they’re not perfectly posed, or even with a perfect backdrop – our playhouse is gorgeous, and well loved, but it is also in the corner of the garden next to the fence where the children make their mud pies with a view of our neighbours’ roof – but they are very real.

This is life for my three little ones; a little bit muddy, a little bit silly, a little bit squashed by your big sisters.

And yet for every time they all decide to fall out, or touch each other’s Lego, or some other heinous crime, there’s the moments when the girls meet up again at the end of the school day and they’re just so pleased to see each other, or when Pip ran after Elma into her classroom the other day because she hadn’t given him a hug yet.

These three know each others weaknesses, but have each others backs, especially when they think they might be winding up Mummy (even if Mummy is secretly loving it).

Two little sisters and their brother, in December:

So do go and say hi and Happy Christmas to my lovely cohosts; Lucy at Dear Beautiful, Katie at Mummy Daddy Me, Amber at Goblin Child,  and Keri-Anne at Gingerlilly Tea; and to show us your sibling photos just link up below or come and play on Instagram under the #siblingsproject and tag @siblings_project_


The Me and Mine Project

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