Thursday, 8 May 2014

The Cruelty of Contrast

A recent visit to an orphanage in Russia, with superb Irish charity To Russia With Love, showed me clear as day something I already knew, but in a murky, confused sort of way.

All the agonising that I do, endlessly, over whether I am doing enough to ensure my children's happiness and success in life, is self-indulgent waste. My guilt over the small things – do they watch too much TV? Eat enough green leafy veg? – is unnecessary.

Because simply by being born where they are born, is better than half the battle. Brought up by parents who love them, in a country that is kind to them, means they have what they need to flourish.

The children I saw in Russia, aged between 10 and 17, have such a difficult, uphill battle that it forced a sense of perspective on me. I didn't go there to feel better about my parenting – I went to hear their stories and ultimately turn these into a book that I hope will raise money for the charity – but a welcome byproduct has been coming home and finding that I obsess far less about my children's lifestyle and my own shortcomings.

Here are more thoughts on the trip and aftermath, written for

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