'Karma' in large capital letters

I’m a strong believer in what goes around comes around. Every negative thing you do, or thought you give out, will come back and hit you hard. Karma, it can be a real bitch, right? It wasn’t until after I had children, that I realised I in no way been living by my own rules… As I constantly ponder how life was before children, and how I expected I would be performing in my life’s ultimate starring role as Super Parent (*coughs and ahems whilst surveying the house which is a tip, and the cupboard filled with bribe treats*) and how I also continue to be overly optimistic with how well I’m going to do in this role, the role that karma has played in these ponderings frantically sprang to mind. Pre children, I had committed some terrible sins, and here are the five most prolific times that karma came galloping around the corner, and bit me hard on the bum in order to show me that I need to heed my own mantras…!

Waaaay Before Children…
So, we’d be off to meet our friends on a Saturday night. We’d have napped most of the afternoon, having had a massive lay in already that morning. When it came to getting ready, we’d sit on the bed drinking wine, listening to loud music. We’d also have had little digs at our friends with children, who had dictated the time we met, and where we met (why did it have to be so close to where they lived? Why did they have to arrive so late? Couldn’t the babysitter put the children to bed??) So clearly, Karma swooped in as soon as we had our own children, all dark and moody, annoyed that we had dared to naively dig at our friends, and gave us our first child, who now will ONLY be put to bed by my husband, followed by child number 2, who will ONLY be put to bed by me. They will also only be settled by said favourite parent, should they wake up of an evening. Thus, karma dictates that now, our friends can have a dig at us for dictating what time we meet and where, that it’s close to our house, moan that we are late, and ask why the babysitter can’t just put our children to bed. Or, they can just forget about us entirely, because we are too frightened to go out, ever….!!

2 images, one showing makeup, dvds, music, and hair straighteners. The other showing some 'going out' clothes to choose from.

(Getting ready to go out was a leisurely affair…)

Immediately Postpartum
So pretty much my whole life, (well, as soon as I was aware that being pregnant might change your body,) I was going to be one of those people who pinged straight back into shape. Of course I would be, the baby would come out, and my tummy would be flat, yes? And if this wasn’t the case for other women, they had definitely taken to ‘eating for 2,’ (clearly not necessary.) Well, karma was on this one like a rat up a drainpipe. I was stupefied to find that I had put on 3 stone post baby. But, I ate sensibly all the way through? But, I forced myself to run on a treadmill until I was 7 months pregnant? But, I was still running around doing 14 hour shifts until the week before he came out? HOW COULD THIS BE?? Not content with that, once the initial sack of spuds tummy had started to deflate, karma then decided that for being such a judgmental dufus, I was to be given a large roll of skin on my belly, that will never shrink or go away, and be a permanent reminder of my douche baggery.

When weaning
I had friends who had total weaning nightmares. Babies who refused solids, and seemed to despise anything solid going their way, for months on end. I had friends who quickly realised their children had intolerances to a lot of foods, and had the pain of checking every single thing that went in their mouths, to the letter. My baby, however, ate everything. He gobbled up my beautifully blended purees, at the times Annabel Karmel dictated he should have them. Then he moved on to positively delighting in a fish pie, or vegetable lasagne, with a side of extra veg to chew on, while I tidied up. I secretly delighted in my victory, and marveled at my perfectly weaned child, his obvious innate love of fruit and vegetables (he gets it from me!!) and wondered if I should contact Nigella, and tell her she was out of a job-my cooking prowess was obviously up there with the best of them. But of course, Karma was having none of this. Karma loved wiping the smile from my face, by making my child reduce his diet to include only 3 things:
Cheerios on the rocks (dry, no milk.)
Cheerios with a side of peanut butter.
Cheerio dust (crushed ones from the floor.)
An occasional foraged raisin from the floor may also occasionally make its way in there, just to mix things up a bit.

2 imges, 1 shows cheerios with a side of peanut butter, the other shows cheerios covered in dust from the floor.

(And todays menu: Cheerios from the floor, some crushed, and covered in dust, and cheerios with a side of peanut butter…)

When my first child was so beautifully placid
My first baby was the definition of chilled. Open a dictionary, look at ‘chilled,’ and there he’d be! Anywhere I took him, he played quietly, and was never intrusive to anyone else’s activity. I’d get so upset if another child hit or pushed him, because he always looked so shocked and wounded. Under my breath, I’d be cursing the parent, and wondering how they’d managed to raise such a monster. Of course, by thinking that, I was basically opening my arms to Karma, and inviting it to do its worst. As a result of giving other mums my best resting bitch face when their child hurt mine, Karma sent us baby number 2, who isn’t nicknamed Mini Assassin for nothing… He bites. He scratches. He kicks. If there is a scuffle, and a child is left is running towards its mother screaming like its being chased by the devil itself, I know that Mini Assassin will be the perpetrator of the crime. Now I just feel massive sympathy for any mum whose child hurts another, and is getting an ear bashing from the perfect parent army-karma has definitely seen to that.

2 pictures, one shows a small boy throwing a punch, the other, a small boy putting his hand up to the camera, as if to say 'leave me alone.'

(An assassin child in action…!)

Thinking about the future…
Karma often makes me pore over what I feel are my parenting mistakes, and beat myself up over my parenting regrets. It has made me see the error of my ways, and laugh at my pre-baby self’s naivety, and my lapses in sympathy for parents of other difficult (*assassin*) children. I hope that karma hasn’t noticed the times I’ve tutted as I’ve walked past a group of noisy teenagers, high on a heady mixture of cheap cider, teenage hormones, and the tiniest touch of their first sense of freedom. I know what karma will do with that judgment, by turning the future image of the angel teenagers I have in my head, swotting over extra homework that they’ve asked for voluntarily, into *ahem* images of myself as a teenager, also high on the same things… I’m one step ahead of you here karma!!

Remember-Karma is always watching, and is always ready to swoop in and make you see the error of your ways!

xoxo

This post first appeared as a guest post for Motherhood: The Real Deal as part of her #MyFiveThings series.

frightened

I was 17 when I walked into a bar and clapped eyes on him for the first time-for the sake of the story, we’ll call him The Germ. I was supposed to be at school, but a post GCSE slight rebellion of education, meant that I didn’t spend too much time in school, I spent it mainly going to bars and getting drunk. So there he was, The Germ. With his moped helmet tucked under his arm-nobody drove actual cars yet, everyone drove mopeds. He was perched on a bar stool. With my frizzy, pre-GHD badly dyed hair, and awful ‘I’m trying to make an identity statement’ clothes, I wasn’t much of a magnet for the opposite sex. Looking at The Germ, with his clear confidence, and heavily chiselled features, I knew that this trend would continue, and that the chances of him noticing me were slim to none.

You can imagine my surprise when The Germ came to sit at our table. I assumed he’d come to talk to one of my friends-that friend that everyone has who every man wants a piece of. When he was talking to me, I thought he was just trying to get to her. Hours later, and several flaming sambuca’s later, and I found myself snogging the face off The Germ. A week later, me and The Germ were officially a couple.

It started very slowly, the emotional abuse. It started with him placing doubts in my already unconfident head about my appearance. He gently skirted around rumours that he’d ‘heard,’ where people had said that they weren’t sure why he was with me-he was out of my league. Apparently he was telling me so that I could red flag the people who’d said them-he wanted me to know they were no friends of mine. He gallantly told me how he’d shot them down and dared them to speak about me like that again.

Before I knew it, anything that I wore, and anywhere I went, had to run past him. ‘I think you should change,’ soon became ‘if you wear that, you are just shouting ‘slut’ to anyone who walks by you-take it off.’ Sometimes even making it out of the house was impossible, and if I did make it out, The Germ would often turn up where I was, and physically drag me home-even a 3 hour car journey to Cornwall wouldn’t stop him doing that. In my naivety, I believed that he acted the way he did out of pure love for me. He’d had a hard upbringing, and I assured myself that he’d gotten the lines blurred between love and possession, somewhere along the way. I wanted him to change and was sure that he would.

I found myself isolated from my friends, and all the dreams I had for my life. I spent all of my time with him. I only went out with him, and when I did, I spent most of the time looking at the floor, not wanting to be accused of trying to catch another man’s eye, hoping to avoid the inevitable punch that would be thrown if he felt that someone was looking at me. He once threw a bottle at me for talking to somebody he didn’t approve of, and told me that I needed to stop provoking him, and that the shards of glass covering me and my outfit would remind me of this.

I lived a life of repressed anxiety. I didn’t recognise it as anxiety at the time, because I was too busy trying to pretend to everyone that I had the perfect life, convinced that The Germ was over passionate in the way he chose to show how much I meant to him. He fit no kind of stereotype for an abuser-he didn’t drink, and turned up to work in a suit. Elderly people adored him, as he was suitably charismatic and charming around them. But he was subtly eating away at me. He’d shredded any confidence I had left, and I was tired of pleading and doing battle with him, just to be able to see someone he didn’t want me to be seeing. I was just his puppet, to do what he wanted, when he wanted. I became frightened to leave him, because I was trapped in the safety net he had created for the two of us, and I was worried that I’d have no friends, no support, and wouldn’t be able to manage on my own without any of these things.

Besides, I had been suitably brainwashed with ideas such as: ‘Nobody else will want you anyway. I will never let anyone else near you-I’ll ruin every relationship you try to have. I’ll see to it that you will never be safe if you go out alone. I will kill myself if you ever leave me.’ Buckling under the strain of wanting to be rid of him, and the fear of being rid of him was taking its toll on every fibre of my being. I was no longer able to eat without being violently sick, and my clothes hung from my skeletal body. I had to be sent home from work when one day my mind went blank, and I couldn’t remember where I was, or what I was supposed to be doing there. A member of my team drove me, telling me it wasn’t safe for me to drive-instead of taking me home, she took me the GP, and asked for an emergency appointment there and then.

I knew that I was going to rid myself of The Germ, despite all the fear. To make it easier, I did something I’d always wanted to do, that The Germ would never hear of-I went travelling. While I was away, news reached me via social media that The Germ had seen through on his threats-he was in hospital with a suspected overdose. I wasn’t going to let that ruin the first thing I had done for myself in 7 years. I ignored any further messages, and continued to enjoy my trip, trying to sort my head out along the way-it was my own personal Eat Prey Love moment. When I got back, I worked on extricating myself from The Germ, and making sure I never saw him again, despite his ceaseless bid to make this happen.

With the hindsight of experience, and now being in a stable, beautiful relationship, I often reflect on the shame I feel that I knew this behaviour was wrong, but I let it continue for so long. I reflect on my weakness, that I was too scared to walk away, and naïve enough to think there would be change. I feel angry that I was robbed of my early twenties-what should’ve been some of the best years of my life, that I will never have back. I’m angry with myself for not believing the friends I had been distanced from would not still be there for me after so many years, and come running to help me. I wonder about him, and his motivation for doing what he did. I wonder if he will ever change, or seek the help he so desperately needed. Although the panic that seized me for a long time following the end of our relationship has ended, I’ve been left with nightmares, which pop up and remind me of what happened-these make me angry that The Germ can still infect my life after all this time.

But now, as a mother of boys, I know that my boys will be brought up to love, respect, and nurture the women in their lives. They will be kind, caring, considerate, and compassionate, just like their dad. I am fierce in the belief that I will never see such behaviours perpetrated by them, or to anyone in my life who I love. This experience has changed me, but has made me a better mother-standing up for myself and my children with a strength I didn’t know I had. I never thought I would find it within myself to trust, love, and get married and have a family. Even though there are times that motherhood has made me feel like I lost myself again, just when I was beginning to find myself, losing myself to two little people I have created is the perfect way to be lost for a while. Although motherhood can make me cry, and make me endlessly frustrated, it can also make me smile when I thought I’d never smile again.

‘The moment that you start to wonder if you deserve better, you do.’