Tearing your hair out ‘cos your house looks like a bomb’s hit it? For some other mother one has.

17 Nov


Jihad Misharawi, a BBC Arabic journalist who lives in Gaza, tragically lost his 11-month old son, Omar in the violence last week.

I remember getting into bed one night during a tough few weeks with Nancy, feeling absolutely broken and frustrated as I knew that I would wake up the following morning to start another difficult day already exhausted.  I felt terrible that I was pretty down and negative about it all, so I wanted to find a way to snap out of it.  So in a moment of concern for others which was rare at this exact point in my life, I told Tom that when Nancy wakes in the night (cos I knew she would) and then wakes up at 5.30am ready to start the day (cos I knew she would) I would try to think of all the women in the world whose babies are waking them up to start far less ideal days.  Those women and children who don’t have homes.  Those who don’t have Dads around, or wake up in danger.  Or those who wake up unsure about how they’ll feed themselves today.

I just wish this article had popped up in my Twitter feed that night.  It tells the story of Frances Harrison, the first ever female foreign correspondent to have a baby and bring him up in a war zone.  As it was it did pop up at a similarly significant time.  It happened when I was on my way to work in my fifth week back.  I was feeling beaten after five weeks of attempting to do a 5-day week in 4 days, of the cycle-train-tube journey into work and then the same going back only with a childminder pick-up added in.  And on top of all this, dealing with the truck-load of challenges that the job always throws up, right from day one.  Oh and so much more.  But it turns out this is nothing compared to what the writer of this article has had to live with to maintain her career whilst raising her son.  Frances managed to juggle motherhood with a ridiculously demanding and dangerous job.  One that would mean she’d have to fly off to some other country at a moment’s notice.  That she’d have to set up home again in another war zone, desperately looking for (trustworthy) childcare and having to wean her baby in a hotel room.  All while trying to meet her next deadline.  So suddenly having to travel for two hours across London each day and spend my evenings working every now and then seemed like a holiday in comparison.

But actually, while I found what she managed to achieve incredibly inspiring, it was the stories that she was able to tell that really put everything into perspective for me.  Yes her family life was hectic, dangerous and unsettled.  But because she did it she was able to tell stories in an entirely different way – from the perspective of a mother.  Those final two paragraphs had me burst into tears on the spot as I walked into work.  I couldn’t stop thinking about it for hours afterwards – spontaneously sobbing whenever it popped into my head.

Reading. No, not just reading.  Seeing the dying women she described giving their babies, ‘…one last breastfeed, knowing they’d otherwise starve in a place where milk cost more than gold’ led me to imagine the cocktail of emotions that this would conjur up in the heart of a mother.  How heartbreaking and unbearably terrifying it must be to know that you’re about to leave your precious, helpless child in such a dangerous, wretched place.  Not knowing what will happen to her, but knowing that there is absolutely nothing you can do about it, while at the same time trying to stay strong for her, since as we all know, they pick up on fear and worry.  Only a mother, who has watched her own child grow and thrive on the milk she made with her own body, and who has shared hours of special moments breastfeeding her own baby, could ever really know how powerful this image is to mothers everywhere.

These stories enabled me to really, properly empathise with people living in war zones in a way that I never have before.  So while many people will say Frances was crazy or worse, selfish and inconsiderate for putting her son at such risk to ‘continue her career’, I have nothing but admiration for her.  Of course it’s upsetting that her son was at risk, that he was exposed to the worst of this world at an age when he should’ve been only surrounded by the best of it. But if it meant she was able to connect with people in this way, in a way that could provoke some kind of action big or small, then surely you can see why she did it?  After reading stories like this, most will at least view their own life with renewed perspective.  Others might share these stories with their friends.  Some might even donate to charities.  Maybe there are others would do even more, I don’t know.  But I think it is an incredibly valuable and admirable thing to be able to open people’s eyes to what is happening in the wider world in this way.

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3 Responses to “Tearing your hair out ‘cos your house looks like a bomb’s hit it? For some other mother one has.”

  1. sirajdavis November 17, 2012 at 10:22 pm #

    Reblogged this on A Collective Consciousness and TJP Production.

  2. from_fun_to_mum (@from_fun_to_mum) November 20, 2012 at 10:35 pm #

    wow, some women are just so courageous. I just couldn’t do it. Now I feel like a wimp, but thanks for sharing this x

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