I’m a great believer in karma and what goes around comes around, or at least I am when I feel positive. Those closest to me also know when times are hard I can often feel momentarily frustrated that there’s no justice in the world. However, deep down I believe that if you are a good person and try do the right thing and put goodness and kindness out there then good things will come back to you.
Well I feel that a silver lining to the C19 lockdown is karma coming back round to give me something I feel cheated of. In theory I was lucky with my maternity leave, I got a full year off because of the saving and meticulous planning and budgeting I had done before finishing and during my time off, so I was extremely lucky, luckier than some friends of mine who were self employed or on differing contracts which meant they had no choice but to return earlier, some with a baby only a few weeks old etc. So why do I feel cheated?
My leave wasn’t the picture perfect mum and baby group, coffee mornings and long walks in the park that every new mum dreams of. The lack of blissful new motherhood was nothing to do with baby P either. It was the end of a marriage. I left in the latter stage of mat leave, making my time ending up being consumed with solicitors appointments, packing up boxes of belongings to ship off to my ex-husband and the careful planning of how I was going navigate my life moving forward as a single mum.
It wasn’t just the ending I felt cheated of though. Mentally I’d started to leave my marriage a lot earlier, things couldn’t carry on like they were any longer and in the very early days of motherhood this became very clear to me and some people close to us. It was clear that it was not the right environment for a baby and I spent a lot of early motherhood toying with my emotions, wrestling the harsh reality of the decision I had to make and coming to terms with the fact that bringing little P wasn’t going to be in the happy 2 point 4 family environment I’d envisaged.
I could go on to explain more of why I felt cheated and how the life I was living during maternity leave wasn’t the one I wanted but that’s not really the point of this post. The point is that a plus point of lockdown restrictions is the time I’m getting with toddler P. It’s bonus time, it’s extra time. It’s invaluable, we’re having breakfasts together without the mad rush to be out in time for drop offs. We’re sitting at the table together for 3 meals a day. We’re enjoying the sunshine and the epic garden project I thrust upon myself last summer.
We’re playing games, baking bread, cakes, biscuits and new recipes I’ve never got around to trying. We’re painting, drawing chalk rainbows outside on the driveway. We’re planting seeds, watching ridiculously annoying children’s programmes on Netflix that she somehow manages to find and irritate me with! We’re making memories, we’re going on walks for “a bear hunt” or to find the “wild things” in fact the pram the other day was a broom and there wasn’t any room on it for anyone but little madam P. Our imagination and the world is our oyster even if it is restricted to this house and garden, bar our one walk a day.
Then there’s music, we’re playing it, singing and dancing to it. We’re enjoying it and using it to lift our spirits.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s hard work. A two year old’s attention span is short, she needs constant supervision and sometimes I’ll happily pretend to need the loo just for two minutes of peace and freedom (although she usually follows and foils my plan). I don’t run out of ideas, resources or imagination for activities, but my energy and patience can wear very thin. Maternity leave was better for that, I had friends (including some amazing new ones) baby groups and various other places I could get out and about to that we’re banned from at the moment, but I do have the peace, tranquility and safety of a happy, warm home now.
So right now, I’m grateful for the extra time that the pandemic has brought me. I’m grateful for the friends who keep checking in, who are honest that this is hard work living in this circumstance, but that also like me are learning so much from their little ones and being grateful of the time to slow down, take a deep breath and enjoy being a family.
Keep safe, be kind and do the right thing because karma will bring good things back to you, it’s done it for me.