Ex Pat Mamma

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Why I should not read the news and other stressful things

It gets me all fired up, you see. And then I have to come here and bore you lot. Assuming there is, indeed, anybody out there.

There are certain parenting jobs I do better than hubby. OK. There, I've said it. I have supermamma sniff-a-poo skills at 300 yards; I wipe er pupo's face when he finishes his dinner; I find him clothes that actually match. And don't need ironed. But at the end of the day, I cannot say that any of these things makes me a better parent than my hubby. And let's not get started on our respective cooking abilities. Who cares?

Well, it seems, the Daily Hate columnists do. Where does this come from? Strangely enough, it all started in Iraq. Or maybe Iran. That's kinda the crux of the whole international dispute. 15 British sailors are lifted by the Iranians and taken captive on the basis that they were encroaching on Iranian waters. I have no doubt it was enormously stressful for each of them and for their families. I suspect they knew little about Iran apart from stories of "Islamic fundamentalism" and "terrorists" and they would have no idea what to expect, what treatment to expect, whether they would ever come home. Now, I suspect, they are very relieved to have been picked up by the Islamic state and not by Iraqi insurgents. It seems they were treated respectfully and kept safe, warm and fed. The only violation of the humanitarian law appears to have been the appearance on Iranian television.

But wait, what's that? A WOMAN? A woman sailor? Blond and pretty? Oh my, and in a headscarf? With a fag? And what's that I hear? She has a daughter at home? Why, how could she? And the British media spent two weeks camped outside this young woman's home, the home of her parents and published her photograph daily. Oh, the excitment. A woman. Extra pathos then.

And then the backlash. Because she's not just a woman. She's a mother. Cue a bunch of editorials lamenting 1) women in the front line and 2) mums who have careers. How could she leave her child? How could she risk her life like this? I believe the "selfish" word crossed a few lips.

The answer, not that any of the editorials bothered to listen, was that her little girl was safely at home with her father, yes, fathers know how to cook, clean and play too, and probably a host of grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and loved friends.

Why is it worse to lose a mother than a father? Well, usually it is worse for an infant because that infant is cared for by his or her mother. The loss, the change for that child, is more dramatic and more traumatic. But if dad is the main carer then that's not true. Noone cares if the 14 male sailors taken prisoner had kids. Well, they would just have been doing their manly duty and protecting the realm and their families within it. When a woman does it, is that not as noble?

I've never exactly been known for my support of the military, but I will say that this young woman and these 14 young men believed in what they were doing, maybe not the war in Iraq itself, but they didn't foresee that when they signed up, but they believed in the military, in defending the country, defending their families and loved ones, being out there, risking their lives so the rest of us don't have to. They know when they sign on the line the risks that they may face and are presumably trained on coping mechanisms. I hope so.

It was interesting to see 7 at the press conference yesterday - scripts in hand. The woman sailor did not appear, but neither did 7 other sailors. Perhaps being paraded on one national television station was quite enough.

I wish all fifteen a safe and relaxed two weeks of leave, enjoying time with their families, coming to terms with the stresses of their job. I wish also every compassion and comfort for the families of those who never made it home. On all sides of this war and every other that is tearing apart our World.

Meanwhile, if we don't want to risk the lives of mothers on the front line, then we shouldn't risk the lives of fathers either. Maybe we should stop going to war. Are you listening, Tony?


Post a Comment

<< Home