Locations of 

visitors to this page

Main Page
The Litany of Motherhood
Karma is not normally something I write about, unless it's the punchline in a joke. I make fun of my co-worker when she falls down and then karma gives me a bitch slap and I fall down in a spectacular manner, of course, in front of half of my office.

Karma is not, however, something I think about consciously in my day to day life. Nor do I think about it as it pertains to justice or forgiveness. If someone were to ask, I would say that I don't really believe in karma. This poses a problem considering our task for this week's Hump Day Hmmm. Julie's topic for us is to, "Discuss the concept of karma, and what you think of its role in justice, injustice, and forgiveness."

The problem, I think, with invoking karma is that it takes things out of my hands. Some people see karma as actually helping one to control life. After all, if you are the best person you can be, won't life treat you well? But for me, the idea of karma makes the events around me uncontrollable. Why? Because good things don't always happen to good people. As a certified Type A personality, I don't deal well with things beyond my control.

Nor can I brush off an insult, a crime, or an injustice with the thought that "karma" will pay an individual back for their misdeeds. I'm more of a fighter. If I see an injustice, a crime, a slight, I get mad. And I fight back. I invoke the justice system. I don't sit back and let "karma," that slacker, do its job.

Do I think that bad things will happen to bad people who do bad things to others? Yes, I do. But probably because of the circumstances, not karmic retribution. A bad person who hurts another, for instance, is far more likely to be thrown in jail for such a crime than the innocent bystander, assuming we've controlled for all confounding factors. Do I think that "karma" has anything to do with that? No.

To tie this post in with the Hump Day Hmmm two weeks ago regarding accidents of birth, I also think that reliance upon karma can, again, be used as a pass for those who feel that the problems of this world are not their responsibility. If "karma" controls, then has the poor child born with AIDS in Africa done something to deserve this accident of birth? Has a teenage girl who is raped done something to deserve her treatment? Does a 34 year old mother of a two year old and a five month old deserve her recent cancer diagnosis?

I think most reasonable people would say, not just no, but HELL NO!

I can, however, see karma's role with respect to forgiveness.

I've written here before about how I am not a forgiver. Forgiveness does not come easily to me, even for small slights.

For many years, as a child, a twenty-something student, and even as a thirty-something professional, I could not forgive my mother for her faults. My mom became a mother at a young age - 22 - an age at which I could fathom being responsible for a small person. At 22 I was at the bar three times a week, absorbed in my own little dramas and passion plays. But my mother, my mother was raising a family with a husband far away.

My father was a navigator in the Air Force and, while he clearly loved us, he simply wasn't there. My mother did most of the heavy lifting in our family. She was the disciplinarian, the teacher, the sounding board, the confidant. She bore the weight of three worlds on her very young shoulders.

My mother was also moody and distant at times. She liked time to herself, without the constant demands of two soul sucking small children and, later on, the demands of being a student and then a high school teacher. In hindsight it seems we begrudged her every second of time alone.

I catalogued every perceived slight and error my mother made until I could recite them as a prayer, my unholy liturgy of blame.

Of course now that I am a mother, I understand. I understand the pressures of working and raising children. Of struggling to find an identity outside that of "mother." I, with my sense of self firmly entrenched before having children, cannot imagine how much harder that struggle must be when there hasn't been any time to develop that individual identity, to grow up.

Now, having suffered the sleep deprivation, long working hours, and a sometimes absentee husband, I understand all too well the depression I saw in my mother. I understand the isolation she must have felt moving far away from her family and friends only to have a part-time husband and co-parent.

And so, in my hard earned wisdom, my mother and I are redefining our relationship once again. I have forgiven her and, I believe, she has forgiven me as well. But without that first step, those first token words or steps taken towards forgiveness, how does it ever happen?

I firmly believe that those who are forgiven are more likely to in turn forgive. So I guess, maybe, I believe in karma just a bit after all.

Labels: ,


Blogger Snoskred said...

Re being a fighter - There's a time to fight, and there's a time to leave it to the Karmic Universe to sort it all out, I think.

With the examples I posted on my blog, the last two of them I could have fought. I could have taken them to the Industrial Relations courts over how they treated me. I did not, because I wanted to get another job and move on and because taking them to court would have been an enormous tax on me - my positivity, my focus on a new job, my finances, and just plain getting bogged down in the past when a) they weren't going to give me my job back and b) it would have cost me a lot in Lawyers fees to do what it took to fight them.

However, when my sister was fired for being pregnant, that's a time to fight. And she did. However it still did take a toll on her and possibly her baby, we will never know if the issues he has now were caused by the stress on her during her pregnancy. Financially it cost her more than she got back. But the employer was wrong and if she did not stand up he may have treated others that way.

Karma still did come back to bite that employer on top of the court thing - his wife found out he was having an affair and booted him out of the house, and he lost his store. So I guess, had my sister done nothing and moved on.. he would still have been punished..

I used to be a fighter too, but over time I have found sometimes the fights cost more than they gain. There's a lot of things to take into consideration. ;)

I'm glad to read of the forgiveness. :)

Great post. I like your blog. Reading back I see we have a lot of similar views. ;) I should have found my way here ages ago, it's just that I've been busy and also a bit slack. So I'll be adding you to my google reader (basically a feed reader, if you're not using google reader it's worth checking out), my sidebar list of blogs I read via google reader, and my Technorati favorites, just so you know. ;)

I'll also mention you in my weekly wrap up post on Sunday.


Blogger Brillig said...

GREAT post, LM. This was a beautiful post. Good luck as you two continue to mend your relationship.

Blogger Jenn said...

Your honesty inspires me.

Your writing moves me.

It is easier to forgive once forgiven.

You are an amazing lady, and karma will come back to you one day.

Maybe, just maybe, it already has.

Blogger Ally said...

Hey there LM: you put exactly into words the jumbled thoughts that were rattling around in my head as I thought about this week's topic. I don't believe in karma, either, for just the reasons you stated. But I love how you tied it in with the act of forgiveness. I think that forgiving takes a lot of practice... Good to hear that you're starting with your mom. Thanks for this great post!

Blogger ewe are here said...

I think people like the idea of karma for the simple reason that people like to think that bad people will get what's coming to them, as will good people. Plus, like you point out, it can allow people to remain 'inactive' when injustices are perpetuated...

I've always joked that I'm all about karma -- my initials are 'krm', (and my sister's are ksm, so I think of her as 'kismet')... but, when push comes to shove, I agree with you. The world doesn't work that way. If it did, the Bush administration alone would have been gone in 2004.

Anonymous Lene said...

Great post! Your relationship with your mother rings true to myself and my mom. We worked through our issues.

I think my becoming a mother definitely changed my outlook and more appreciative of her struggles.

I am glad that you have forgiven your mom and you guys are rebuilding! There is nothing like a relationship with a beloved mother. =)

Happy 4th!

Blogger bubandpie said...

This post reminds me of the phrase, "To understand all is to forgive all." It's an abused concept, because it tends to undermine the wrongness of the "all" and put the burden of sympathy upon the victim. But there is a kernel of truth in it all the same.

Anonymous Emily said...

I do often think ,however, that someone is listening to all the parents who say things like: "I hope you get a child just like you someday."

I think this because I got one.

You hit the nail on the head, here.

Blogger Julie Pippert said...

Ahhh LM, the second post in a row to strike a cold sliver of terror into my heart:

"My mother was also moody and distant at times. She liked time to herself, without the constant demands of two soul sucking small children and, later on, the demands of a student and then a high school teacher. In hindsight it seems we begrudged her every second of time alone.

I catalogued every perceived slight and error my mother made until I could recite them as a prayer, my unholy liturgy of blame."

My God. My life. My greatest fear about my kids and our relationship.

Karma, actually, though, isn't out of your control. It isn't some sort of fate or judgmental external entity. It's not some dogma coming to bite you on the ass.

Karma is actually completely within your control---it is what you do, why you do it, and the effects of those actions and intents.

Karma is you.

I am so glad to have a post by someone who doesn't believe in karma!

And you really hit the forgiveness aspect...whereas I focused intensely on the justice (duh of course, as usual LOL) element.

Great post! So glad you played with us this week.

Blogger kaliroz said...

That's really interesting. I've never seen karma as giving people a free pass ... but after reading your post I can certainly see what people would believe that.

For me, karma makes you own your actions ... not make excuses for them. We are the sum of our experience. Karma is that sum, basically.

There are those who do use karma ... or a similar concept ... to say they don't need to help others. But, again, that's a misunderstanding of karma.

And the whole moody mother thing, there with you. My mom worked her guts out and was grouchy and we resented her alone time.

Now that I'm a mom with a "soul sucking" child ... I understand her better.

Blogger jen said...

this is terrific. chani did a rip roaring job her way about this too...karma..the things we still need to work out, from the past and the distant incomprehensible past. and sometimes it's just a little understanding.

Blogger TastesLikeCrazy said...

Bravo, lady, bravo.
Though I like the idea of Karma, I sometimes find it hard to "believe" in it. Then again, I have a hard time "believing" in anything.
I think that Karma helps people feel better about themselves. "If I do something good, then good will happen to me." Though it is somewhat of a selfish idea, everyone wins in the end.
If everyone does good then there will be no bad.


I know only good things can come from you forgiving your mother. I'm glad you are able to do it. I'm not quite there yet, but it does help to gain the perspective of BEING a mother to help me understand (and hopefully one day forgive) some of the stuff my mother did.

Great post.

Blogger Mary-LUE said...

I'm not so big on karma as it relates to Eastern philosophy. But I like your version of karma, which I might call perspective. I know there are those who never reflect enough to look back and, with their new experiences, reevaluate their experience of their parents.

Blogger Queen Heather said...

Great post. I'm glad you and your mom are coming back together.

Blogger Mary G said...

I love this! Like you, I'm more than a bit dubious about karma. You put it together so well; I think you have an amazing intelligence.
And I can really relate to the mother thing. I have nursed grudges far past their best before date. Good on you.

Blogger Lawyer Mama said...

Snoksred - Thanks for coming by! As for there being a time to fight and a time to walk away, I agree. But it's *very* hard for me to walk away from a fight or an injustice. It's just a personality thing.

Brillig, Ally, Jenn - Thank you! We're getting there.

Ewe - That is too funny about the initials! And I agree about GWB - if karma is going to bite him in the ass, karma is taking too damn long.

B&P - You're right. It is understanding that makes it possible.

Emily - I've been cursed (and blessed) with one just like me as well!

Julie - It's my life as well, which is perhaps why I understand my mother so much better now. But at the same time it frightens me that it may be 30 years before my boys understand me. I so agree that "karma is you" as you say it. I try to be the best person I can and I wish that those that weren't would suffer some sort of karmic retribution. If only.

Blogger Lawyer Mama said...

Kaliroz - I agree with you to an extent, that the concept of karma makes you own your own actions. But bad things still happen to good people, so something else is at work as well. Just plain damn bad luck.

Jen - Thank you. I still haven't read the other posts yet, so I'll be sure to check out Chani's. And yes, understanding helps a lot. If only we could always put ourselves in another's shoes. Think how much better the world would be.

TLC - I think you're right that karma helps us feel better. And there is something to be said for encouraging people to own their actions and to act in a "good" way.

Mary-lue - Exactly! My version of karma is perspective or understanding.

Queen H - Thanks! We're working on it.

Mary - Thank you! Have I mentioned that I love you lately? It's so interesting how virtually everyone I know has some sort of mom issue out there. But you can speak from both sides, as a daughter and as a mother of grown children.

Blogger painted maypole said...

great post. thought provoking. I don't know the "true" definition of Karma, and I also don't fully buy into the "what comes around goes around" way of thinking, but i do find that when you put kindness into the world, you are more likely to get kindness back, and likewise with evil or anger. But I don't think this is the universe or karma, so much as people responding to what you do, and the kind of company one keeps, and what you look for in the world.

Blogger Part time Mommy said...

I also share your views on karma. The forgivness part was wonderful. I myself at times wonder if my children will grow up to feel about me the way you did about your mother. Like your mom, I became a mom at 23. My kids Dad is ALWAYS gone. I do my best for the kids, but find myself moody way more often than I want. Atleast now I know that someday they'll understand better.

Blogger Sunshine said...

I'm actually quite the opposite of you. My mother had me at 17, my brother at 22 and divorced at 23. The many tough years thereafter I was her biggest champion and felt like we were in the tough go of it together, as a team. In my own adult life, I have realized that our circumstances didn't have to be so difficult but my mother is obsessed with playing the victim role and having become a mother myself, I realize that she didn't fight very hard for us or our needs because she was so busy wallowing in self-pity about how hard life is.
And this is already a long enough comment, but I hear you on the forgiveness front. I put up with a lot and let people fail me, but I don't let them do it repeatedly. My relationship with my mother has been over for more than 2 years. I've had many people say, "Forgive her". Well, I can forgive harsh and unfair treatment when its just me, but when it spilled over to my children, she crossed the line.
But, you make lemonade out of lemons, right? Maybe there's somebody you can't forgive and they're not in your life, but it makes you cherish those wonderful and positive relationships you do have!

Blogger CPA Mom said...

I'm with Sunshine on the her last line. Because sometimes, there are people that cannot be forgiven. But your post is about karma, not forgiveness. And it is one of your best posts. I wish I knew how to nominate it The Perfect Post. Anyone?? Tell me how?

Sometimes, I see instances of "karma" that really tickle me. Sometimes, not so much.

Post a Comment

<< Home

Lawyer Mama
Made by Andrea Micheloni