Where’s the Love?

Is it me or is the world becoming an increasingly cold place? I’m not talking about the weather, but about hearts and minds.thermometer-751422_640

This week,

In the United States, Donald Trump took a big step towards claiming the Republican presidential nomination. This is a man widely known for his racist, anti-Muslim and misogynist views and who has no political experience at all. To think that he might become the next President of the United States scares me to bits.

The British parliament voted against admitting 3,000 unaccompanied Syrian child refugees stranded in Europe. It’s almost impossible not to draw parallels between the MPs ‘no’ vote and the moral collapse of the 1930s when Jewish refugees were denied sanctuary.

The Home Secretary, Theresa May, called for Britain to withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights, replacing it with a UK bill of rights. Anyone who doubts the absurdity of May’s proposal should watch ‘What has the ECHR ever done for us,’ the satirical sketch with Patrick Stewart.

Do we really want a society where political and economic interests, selfishness and greed determine policy-making at the expense of basic humanitarian values?

Instead of spouting populist propaganda in favour of ‘Brexit,’ undercutting the NHS by withholding funds and bullying junior doctors, slashing benefits for people with disabilities, and generally robbing the poor, Britain’s political leadership would do well to ask itself: when and how did we lose our moral compass?


At What Price, a Smile?

Cleft lip and palate is one of the most common birth defects in the world and once repaired, most people born with a cleft grow up to live healthy lives with few if any complications.

Although the vast majority of infants born with a cleft in the West have immediate access to comprehensive cleft care, there are millions of children in developing countries who live with an unrepaired cleft. Continue reading


Growing up with four brothers and a neighbourhood full of boys, I dreamed of having a sister. Though I didn’t mind playing with boys and quite enjoyed their boisterous, adventurous spirit, there were times I longed for a sister to confide in, to share my feelings, worries, hopes and fears with.human-770690_640

The closest I had to a sister was my cousin. As children and teenagers we were very close and though we had our fair share of spats, we knew we could always rely on each other when it mattered.

I was finally blessed with two sisters of my own when I was in my teens and my father remarried and had two more daughters. While I didn’t see much of my sisters initially – they were much younger than me and we lived in different countries – I’ve since formed a strong bond with them.

I’m now a mother to two girls and watching these two sisters interact with each other, I am growing ever convinced of the importance of sisterhood.

Of course, my daughters fight a lot, and complain about each other at times but there’s no mistaking the love they have for each other. If one of them is told off by my husband or me, the other is quick to come to her defence. They have each other’s back.


Sisterhood isn’t limited to actual siblings, but can equally involve friends, other groups of sisters, etc.

This week, for example, while on holiday in Tenerife, I’ve had the privilege and pleasure to observe my daughters growing increasingly close to a trio of sisters and their good friend, all of whom they know from school back home. That’s another kind of sisterhood in the making.

children-60746_640We all need sisters to share our experiences, feelings and thoughts with, whether we’re young girls, teenagers or grown women in our forties. We need sisters from whom we can draw strength and receive comfort.

Unfortunately, girls and women can too often be mean and excluding towards one another. As an adult, I’ve found it hard at times to confide in other women for fear that they might turn on me, or talk behind my back.

I’ve had friends who were a great comfort to me when I was unhappy but seemed incapable of being happy for me when my life was going well. It was as if they thrived on my unhappiness.

Now and then, my 9-year old comes home from school sad and confused, and asks me, ‘how come some girls are friendly one day only to be mean the next?’

I wish I had a good answer for her, but I don’t. I do believe, however, that much of girls’ behaviour stems from what they see, hear and experience at home.

So as mothers we need to be modelling behaviour that is inclusive, accepting of others’ differences and non-judgemental. We need to teach our daughters the difference between assertiveness and aggressiveness.

The occasional argument and disagreement is part of life, of course, and sisters know that. But whatever happens, they’ll have each other’s back.


I’d Rather Be Me

I’ve written about perfectionism before, but it’s such an important – and hazardous – topic that it bears repeating.

On Sunday night, my husband laboured for hours in the kitchen, making a three-tier cakeunnamed for our daughter’s 6th birthday and occasionally I’d hear him mutter and curse to himself. The cake wasn’t turning out to be as perfect as he wanted it. Personally, I thought the cake looked fabulous, and I was certain our daughter would be more than satisfied.

‘Yes, but the icing isn’t great, and the writing on the cake is far from perfect,’ he protested.

‘As if she’s going to notice…or care!’ I replied exasperated.

nobody-is-perfect-688370_640Having once been a perfectionist myself, I now consider the idea that anything needs to – or should be – perfect not just futile but also potentially sinister, harmful and oppressive.

I have an intense dislike for the saying “practice makes perfect” and it breaks my heart when my youngest daughter angrily throws away her writing just because she doesn’t think it’s good enough. She’s six years old for goodness’ sake.

Even I can’t always resist the idea of perfection that pervades our society. Women’s magazines, for example, are filled with articles, ads and celebrity stories that promote the idea of the perfect, flawless woman.

And when I recently went for a facial treatment I’d won in a raffle, the beautician tried to sell me products she promised would restore my skin to what it was ten years ago.beauty-treatment-163540_640

Although I mostly feel ok about the way I look and don’t mind the growing number of wrinkles on my face, or the absence of a flat stomach, my self-esteem wobbled.

To my utter horror, I caught myself briefly considering the possibility of having another nose job. The last time I had reconstructive surgery of any kind I was 20 years old and afterwards I felt done with it. Looking at myself in the mirror, post-op, I thought, ‘ok, this is as good as it gets, now get on with your life.’

Yet, here I was, more than 20 years later, contemplating plastic surgery.

‘I just want to look my best,’ I reasoned, unconvincingly, before coming to my senses.

Besides, I can’t imagine myself with a perfectly straight nose – that just wouldn’t be me. And I quite like being me.