Do no harm, take no sh*t…
This has become my life mantra. It whispers to me in those desperate moments when I consider leaving my kids in the supermarket, mid sibling meltdown over rocket ice-lollies versus a Minion lolly multipack, when my eldest daughter eye-rolls me for the umpteenth time before breakfast or, God forbid, when someone pretending to be called Adam phones me from a far-flung call centre selling me help for an iPad I don’t own…. Sometimes I want to do harm, sometimes I take a little too much sh*t, but occasionally this motto is enough to make me pause and stem the seemingly inevitable sh*t storm.
Sometimes my mantra serves me well. Other times, not so much.
Take for example the moment when, after gruelling rounds of applications and interviews to the final candidates for a job as a trainee buyer at a world-renown London department store, the interviewer asked me that fatal, career-changing question, “What word would your friends use to describe you?” – “Nice, kind or funny” was my ill-advised response. The champagne she had ready to crack open as she offered me the role turned sour (we’re talking 20 years ago – interviews were different then). She snapped her folder shut and sent me on my way. Doing no harm might wash with friends but it sure as heck didn’t wash with her.
When I left the world of 9-5 to run my own business, a brave colleague raised a glass to wish me well and said nervously “So…are you going to rule yourself with a rod of iron then?’. I was mortified. Apparently when suited and booted I’m pretty fierce. I call it determined, efficient, organised, professional, all the words the interviewer wanted to hear. I take no sh*t.
It doesn’t always stand firm..
Hours after the crazy homebirth of my third child, I clocked my husband chucking the older two into a hastily sterilised birth pool, transformed into massive paddling pool. Clearly number four was never on his agenda. My midwife gave me ‘the look’ and said, “Clare, really? You’re going to stand for that?”. On that occasion, I think I’d lost my ‘take no sh*t’ attitude along with my placenta. I let it pass, temporarily. I still have the birth pool in a box.
As a mum of three in this messed up world we live in, I’m not sure there are many better rules to live by. My kids are trying to be good people in a pretty cruel world. A world where kids can’t go to a pop concert safely. Where tourists and gentle citizens watch for speeding vans and the leader of the free world is a crazy reality star. Do no harm my lovely little people, but take no sh*t.
She never did anyone any harm
In my over-confident, rule-the-world twenties, I saw a headstone marked “she never did anyone any harm”. Back then, I wanted to be remembered as someone who had achieved greatness, changed the world or made millions. But as I grew in years and wisdom, I realised that shuffling off this mortal coil having never harmed a soul would be a great achievement. I genuinely try my best. I’m lucky enough to count incredible people as my friends and have no real enemies even if not everyone likes the cut of my jib.
But nobody, apart from the sadly deceased Sheila from Worksop, who clearly made the grade, is perfect. Ask Adam from the call centre, he just called about the iPad again…He won’t remember me as someone who does no harm, but I didn’t take any sh*t!