The sheer power of a mother’s love can never, ever be underestimated. That’s why as a mother, I’d like to dedicate this Mother’s Day to all those remarkable Ukrainian matriarchs who inspire us with not just their dignity, but with their unbelievable strength and courage in the face of extreme adversity, distress and insurmountable hardship.
I want to tell these women who packed bags with a change of clothes, snacks and bottles of water, these women who readied pet carriers and every other practical item they needed in preparation for the nightmare they thought they’d never face, that the mothers of Roscommon stand with them. I want to honour them and tell them we can only imagine the shock and horror they felt as they placed emergency bracelets displaying names, mobile numbers and blood groups onto the wrists of their precious children, before hugging them goodbye and sending them off alone to join a convoy of other refugees.
For weeks we’ve seen the heartbreaking images of thousands of these Ukrainian mothers, who in the midst of the pounding missiles and the advancing tanks, bid farewell to their husbands, partners, sons, fathers and brothers – knowing they may never again kiss their lips or see their faces.
The courage of these women is quite simply as astonishing as it is inspirational. Despite being traumatised, terrified and surrounded by gunfire, these mothers somehow managed to make what was a frantic and horrifying journey with their babies nestled in their arms and toddlers clutched to their sides, out of their war-torn homeland of Ukraine and into the terrifying unknown.
We’ve seen the sheer scale of this war and its devastating effects clearly etched on every single tear-stained face of these beautiful, strong, independent goddesses who didn’t even flinch when giving up everything and everyone they held dear in a bid to get their little ones to a safe zone. We’ve seen them weep with relief as they, along with an unending stream of their fellow country men and women, collapsed into the arms of aid workers and volunteers, waiting to help them at the Polish border.
We’ve witnessed how these protectors have sacrificed not just their dreams, but their very lives, all in a powerful effort to save their precious children. We’ve acknowledged how despite facing overwhelming obstacles, these angels have somehow managed to hide their own emotions, stifle their own grief, and instead, at all times, managed to remain remarkably strong – a rock between their children and the ravages of a demonic Putin and his lethal forces.
We’ve sobbed upon seeing the nightmarish images of the heavily pregnant, helpless young Ukrainian woman being stretchered through the rubble following a Russian army airstrike on a maternity and children’s hospital last week. We saw how, cradling her bloodied lower abdomen, this beautiful brave soul desperately tried to hold her unborn infant safe within the confines of her womb despite her hip and pelvis being crushed. We can only imagine the anguish she went through, as she hoped against hope that somehow, by cushioning her injured stomach, come-what-may, she’d manage to save her innocent little infant’s life. Later, we cried gut-wrenching tears when he heard how this mother and her newborn angel had sadly passed away, slaughtered by a merciless madman.
Ever since this war escalated on February 24th, over 2.2 million – most of them women, children and the elderly (now facing into a new and scary future) – have fled Ukraine. This has become ‘Europe’s fastest growing refugee crisis since World War Two’. This week and every week, the mothers and the grandmothers of County Roscommon stand with these souls. We show them our admiration and offer them our solidarity, and as they wait to reunite with their husbands, partners, sons, brothers and fathers, we pledge to do all that we can to look after them.