It’s been an exhausting year, on every front. I would like to look forward with some optimism, but the circumstances we find ourselves in don’t seem to warrant much and, although the desire for escapism and fantasy is understandable when reality is harsh, it does seem to be a bit of a distraction. When some of your neighbours may be struggling to provide food for their kids or to heat their homes, it is hard to feel particularly festive.
Our house has spent the year stuck between Brexit and Catalexit. Anger and fear seems to characterise much of our political discourse. Facebook has become a never-ending stream of invective. In the past I have to admit that I found constant updates about outings and pictures of children on their first day at school a bit boring. Not any more. So much of what will happen when impossible promises meet reality is not within our control. It seems we have grown very complacent about peace these days and are prepared to risk increasing conflict and worse. This is the world we have created for our children. Well done, us.
So what do we do? What can we do? The only thing, it seems to me, is to focus on the here and now; to spend time on the important things; to look at where we can have a positive impact and to go all out for it. I am learning a lot from the students I work with. Many come from difficult backgrounds. Some are from countries which have faced years of conflict and enormous obstacles to get to where they are now. One is from Gaza. She has not seen her family for five years; another fled a crushing marriage in Pakistan; another is from Rwanda, where her family were wiped out in the genocide.
Their experiences have hardened their resolve and the responsibility they feel to make a difference, whatever that might be. They are remarkable people – the kind of role models we need in difficult times. As parents we are our children’s biggest role models. We can make a difference, even if it is only in our immediate setting. We may feel exhausted and as if we are failing, but if we focus on what is possible we can also be remarkable.
*Mandy Garner is editor of Workingmums.co.uk. Picture credit: Wikimedia commons.