If you question whether karma is real, let me reassure you.

I liken my own experience with karma to a boomerang effect. What I throw out to the world will undoubtedly come back and hit me upside the head with incredible speed and velocity, whether I like it or not. This was one of those times I didn’t much like it, but I surely did deserve it.

Picture an otherwise beautiful, sunny Wellington County morning. The pulse of the community was beating with the flow of traffic; school buses, sidewalks full of children walking to school, crossing guards, and dog walkers. Yet, the anxiety in my car was enough to fog up the windows. I was driving a sullen teen daughter to school (pouting because the destination has failed to meet her expectations) and my head was already well into the day with meetings and deadlines and errands.

Neither of us are what you’d call “morning people” and the mother-daughter union seems to make this time of day more volatile.

Sometimes I am not the good parent I want to be. The rush to get out the door stirred up our matching tempers and set the day off course. We were late. Every light turned red in anticipation of our route. I ranted about punctuality, routines and the complete disrespect of holding up others, namely me. Hypocrite.

Then I crossed the line. I looked over at my daughter in the passenger seat, with her headphones on and a scowl on her face that I feared would become permanent, and remarked on the shabby status of her hair. I pulled out the pin of mean and poked her self-confidence balloon and watched as the air slowly filled the car. What a horrible thing to do. Instant regret was masked with instant action. I pulled a hairbrush out of my purse and she reluctantly brushed her hair for a second time that morning before stuffing the brush into my purse with a “there, are you happy now?” look on her face.

Of course I wasn’t happy. I knew what I’d done to her self-esteem. Apologies and the “love you” as she departed the car weren’t enough. I carried that guilt all day.

At this point in her journey, my daughter does not care if her hair is perfect. She owns her spirit without much concern for following the lead of everyone around her. She had brushed her hair and was happy with it, rightly so. Come to think of it, I hadn’t fussed over mine that morning at all. Kettle. Pot. Black? Yep. And this is where karma showed up.

That night I received an email from my best childhood friend who had started a file-sharing program gathering up old photographs of us from elementary and high school. You want to be humbled? Look at your Grade 8 graduation pictures. Oh. My. Horror.

Memories of my awkward teenage years flipped across my screen, with a montage of ridiculous haircuts that went from 1980s layered wing flips to the almighty perm (yes, perms) and a plethora of shoulder-pad clad outfits to go with it. The ugly stick beat me back into reality. Hard. Karma. Boy, did my daughter enjoy those photos.

I am sure my girl was born to teach me more about life than I will ever teach her. Karma is a gift.



Kelly Waterhouse