I recently went swimming with my 4 year old daughter. Winter is definitely the most stress free time to do this; the pool was virtually empty and it was actually fun rather than horribly stressful as is usual on a typical day out with Little Miss Self-Resolved. Of course, a day out with kids is never 100% smooth and our bump in the road was that the baby pool was closed, leaving our terrifyingly over-confident non-swimmer flailing around in a pool when she couldn’t touch the bottom and that was a good 5 degrees colder than she is used to. I hauled her out from under the water coughing and spluttering on no less than three occasions, stroking her back and watching her as, red-eyed, she gasped for air. I watched as her lips gradually turned blue and she began to shiver and it hurt my heart. I knew that there was a nice warm shower a mere 10 feet away but I absolutely hated watching my child at that level of physical discomfort. Even though this discomfort was voluntary and could be fixed in the blink of an eye, I could still feel those cold fingers of dread and disaster grasping my heart. I felt I’d failed as a mother because my child was not at ease. It was the smallest of things, a passing moment, but it made me feel and it made me think.
A wise friend of mine has a mantra that he uses when considering the well being of his kids. Happy, healthy, kind. That is what we are aiming for. These three things are what we want to ensure our children are given and what they give to the world. Happiness, health and kindness. These are important gifts and I absolutely subscribe to this ideal of child rearing. However, there are other gifts that our children are given and they are so profound, so necessary to our well being that usually I barely think about them. The most fundamental gift given to my children is safety. The society I had the good fortune to be born into keeps my children safe.
Not all children are safe. As I saw my daughter’s lips go blue in that swimming pool and those feelings of sadness and fear for her began to rise, I thought about what other mothers must be feeling as their children suffer this winter. How much worse it is for so so many. I thought about mothers on the borders in Calais, who have watched the authorities they hoped would protect them tear down the meagre shelters they could offer their children. They will see their children cold, and hungry and in peril whilst we raise our glasses to ring in a new year, full of resolutions to make it better than the last. I thought of those families who had to turn to food banks for their Christmas dinners, who worry how they will feed their children when the season of festive giving ends and the donations dry up. I thought of the mothers who wish to leave an abusive partner but don’t know who can help them or how to stay safe if they leave. I thought of the mothers who have been given a diagnosis that means their kids will be growing up without them, who know that that they will not be around to keep them safe. All those mothers who feel those fingers of dread and fear grip their heart and crush it. I need to do something to help.
The reason I decided to post with Selfish Mother in the first place was because I know the team here think about those mothers too. As I nod wryly at the other mums at the school gate in our matching ‘Winging It’ sweatshirts I know we are all doing a little something to make a difference. We are part of a club that cares. The charities that are supported by Selfish Mother speak directly to my poor bruised heart. In helping other mothers we are making the world a safer place. I want to be a part of that. Thanks to all at Selfish Mother for letting me.