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It’s been almost a month since I started back at work and I’m still tired, my face is breaking out, the commute is still rough, and every day, at least once a day, I feel like a complete idiot.

But last week I did the Army Run 5k. I wasn’t sure how it would go, and the first kilometre or so I thought I was going to have to quit. And then I didn’t. And the end was fantastic. Because I finished, I even jogged over the finish line. And it makes me feel really good about the next 5k I’m doing in 9 days.

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I believe that if I hadn’t started working, walking a few blocks every morning and again every evening, walking up four flights of stairs to get to the street from my car and up three flights every time I go up to my office, then I wouldn’t have managed that 5k as well as I did.

My feeling like an idiot is made slightly better by the fact that my daughter is being taken care of. She loves school, still, and my husband and I our managing outside school hours with the help of a neighbour mom who has opened her home for us. It is made better by the people I now have the chance to work with and their reassurance that simple mistakes and learning do not make me an idiot.

This has been a hard transition made easier by the community around me. Make harder by my own self-doubt and nasty inner workings.

The first kilometre is rough, and the next one will be a bit better and when I cross the finish line it will feel so good that I’ll be ready for the next one.

In the name of love

September 9th, 2016 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Parenting | Personal | Women's Issues - (Comments Off on In the name of love)

The other day at the park, after her first day back at school, the kid was fly around the monkey bars and talking a mile a minute. She was showing me her tricks and demonstrating her strength and also telling me how good she is and how she taught one of her friends a better way to do the monkey bars too.

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And I had this instinct. This unfortunate instinct that I squashed down.

I almost told her not to be so cocky. I almost suggested that her friends won’t like it if she’s so confident.

What a stupid thing to think.

This kid is strong. She’s strong and she’s been practicing for years. She’s been doing gymnastics and working hard at it since before she could walk. She practiced the monkey bars over and over again until the day she finally got all the way around. I remember that day and her smile was so big I almost cried, as she ran towards me telling me “I did it!”

She’s worked hard and practiced and why would I take that away from her, ever? Why shouldn’t she be confident about something she can do well?

And if she were a boy, would I have had this whole conversation in my head? No, probably not.

This kid is an athlete. She loves to exercise, she loves to run and stretch and bounce and play. When Daddy asked her if she did anything fun at gymnastics today she declared her love of burpies. Nobody loves burpies.

She’s an athlete and for the rest of her life people will tell her she’s too confident, they’ll place her behind the men in her sport, they’ll say she’s not dedicated because she likes fashion.

I will not be one of those people.

Grade 1

September 8th, 2016 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Parenting | Personal - (Comments Off on Grade 1)

The kid has started Grade 1…

Stereotypical first day pic

Stereotypical first day pic

This seems big and important to me not only because it’s an actual numbered grade, but also because I remember Grade 1. I remember a lot about Grade 1, while I only remember snippets of kindergarten – like the little red-headed boy who threw up in front of the playhouse and the janitor had to come and clean it up.

(Sidebar – the playhouse that I had in my kindergarten classroom? My Gramps built it the year my sister was in SK. He built it for the school. Just because. And it was still there years later when I went to pick up a kid I was supposed to babysit).

I remember that we knew my teacher’s name before I started school, but she was knew so my mom didn’t know anything about her. Her name was Mme. Piché and she had short, very dark hair and big glasses. I remember that she always always spoke to us in French unless there was something very important that she needed us to understand, and then she would tell us in English, and we knew that it was important because she was telling us in English.

I remember that I sat next to a little boy with a rat tail, but I don’t remember his actually name.

I remember that we wrote get well cards for my friend Molly when she went away for an operation. I remember that Molly was kind and gentle and friendly and that I wasn’t surprised at all when we reconnected on Facebook and I found out that she’s a nurse.

I remember M. Leduc came in to teach us gym. I remember this vividly even though my sister says it can’t be true because she had M. Leduc later for French and he was in no way a gym teacher. And I remember Mr. Louks, who I still think might have been the best principal ever. Though Mr. Dagenais would be a close second.

I remember my math workbook – an actual book that you wrote in that the school gave us – had a polar bear and a light blue cover. I have no idea why that detail has stuck with me for so long. I started Grade 1 almost 30 years ago.

I know that I loved Grade 1. I think it’s probably because in junior kindergarten I was new to school, and in senior kindergarten I was new to French, but in Grade 1 I could start just being in school. And I had my own teacher, not one that had taught my sister before me. Mme. Piché. I picture her with her short dark hair and her great big glasses and she’s always kind and smiling, and she’s always wearing a white jacket and a bright blue shirt.

They say you can never go back. I can but it won’t be the same since the renovated the entire school after I graduated Grade 8. But every time I’m in the neighbourhood I see parents of people I went to school with, though none of my teachers are at the school any more. And Mme. Piché? I think she was just there for that one year with us. But I remember her.

Sometime last year I noticed a shining white hair among my usual brown. I was excited because I have felt like a kid for so long, it felt like real proof that I was growing up.

Over the summer my head became, rather suddenly, much more populated by this white hairs. Mostly on the left side. It’s becoming rather alarming.

I mean, I’ve lived a lot of life in the past 10 years. Hell, I’ve lived a lot of life in the past two years, but I don’t mind when I tell people my actually age and their reaction is “No, really?”

I have loved my 30s, they’ve been a great time of fun and hard work and discovery. But the fact is that I still feel like I’m 17 and I’m waiting for the adult-ness to hit.

I mean, I have a 6-year-old who started Grade 1. I’m about to graduate with my Masters degree. We celebrate our 10th year married next year.

But I’m still not entirely convinced the first part of the 2000s happened. I mean, I know I did things in each of those years – graduated high school, worked, started and finished college, started and finished university got a dog, got married, got a job, and was pregnant. Pregnant for a LONG FREAKING TIME.

But seriously.

And on another note – I’m getting grey hairs, I assume I’m getting wrinkles as well, so why in the hell do I still have blackheads? Not okay universe.

Mother-daughter skin care

Mother-daughter skin care

 

 

 

Dear 16 year old me

September 6th, 2016 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Personal - (Comments Off on Dear 16 year old me)

Dear 16-year-old me,

Amy at 16

Hi there. You’re going through a hard time right now, I know. Even though you’re really good at hiding it. You’re considering some drastic things like dropping out of school and even suicide.

You have no idea that 20 years from now you’ll be in a much better place. You have no idea what awaits the other side of the dark place you’re in.

It doesn’t end there. You’re going to keep struggling with depression but you’re going to get better at it. You’ll learn a lot about yourself

Right now you’re not sure you want to finish high school but in 20 years you’ll be graduating with a Master’s degree.

You’ll have a daughter who is awesome and she will make you a better version of yourself. You’ll have a husband who will do his damnedest to make you feel better about yourself. The unexpected family.

And you’ll worry, often, that you’re going to manage to ruin it all. Sometimes you’ll wonder if you’re doing it on purpose. And you’ll be frustrated that your brain chemicals are still screwing with you so many years later, but the days when you don’t think you suck will start to outnumber the days when you wish the world would swallow you whole.

Every day that little girl throws all of her love your way will build you up. Every day that you can help her work through something that’s bothering her. Every hug she gives you will fill your soul.

And somewhere along the way you will realize that everything you have been through has made you into a the person you are, and she’s stronger than you ever thought she could be.

Just keep going.

 

The Overwhelm begins

September 5th, 2016 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Personal - (Comments Off on The Overwhelm begins)

I am one week in to my new job, and I haven’t cried once, but on Friday it was a very close call. So much has been thrown at me in such a very short time.

Of course, that includes the fact that I got the job, bought a car and started within about a week.

I haven’t worked in an office in more than four years and now I am again. And I’m commuting, and my daughter has daycare.

All of a sudden.

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And it strikes me as funny that I’m overwhelmed right now after all of the things I’ve been through over the past two years. I have done a lot over the past two years, but all of that had an end date. A day I could point to and say yes, this is hard, but here is the day it will be done.

Now I’m in a new world where I have some pieces and I have to make them all fit. It has to work, and I have to make it. I have to figure out what I can do to take care of myself, take care of my kid, take care of my relationships, my house, keep our budget rolling and also transform my health.

The excellent news is that I now get to chat with great people everyday about all of it. Every morning I get to start my day alone in the office with Allyson, who has accomplished so much and is so open to helping guide me.

I feel lucky that I’ve ended up here. I just need to feel my way around a little bit.

Routine starts tomorrow, let’s get to it. In the meantime – happy puppy.

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A Whole New World

August 26th, 2016 | Posted by Amy Boughner in #MommyScholar | Personal - (Comments Off on A Whole New World)

This has been quite a week. I marked the five year anniversary of my former boss’ death, the first anniversary of burying my Dad, Joe and I watched the Tragically Hip concert and heard Gord Downie’s lyrics explain to us how to mourn him.

This week I have found a job, arranged for childcare for my daughter and bought a car. On Saturday I’ll be doing a hike that is the first of three race-type events I’ve signed up for over the next three months because, really, enough of this.

(Also important – this week marked the premiere of Rupaul’s Drag Race All-Stars 2. So my understanding is that I’d better werk).

Just like that our life is changing all over again.

But this time next month we’ll be in the swing of things. The kid will go to Grade 1 and then spend some time with a babysitter before we get home. I will officially be done with my Masters and working on new and exciting projects.

Today I am mourning this time I have had. Since I finished classes and my internship and I’ve been home, taking care of myself in a way I haven’t been able to for a long time. I’ve been taking naps, I’ve been reading, I’ve been watching TV and wasting time, gotten back to knitting, blogging more.

I’m going to miss this time. This summer, but we’re rolling along.

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Dancing in the rain

August 25th, 2016 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Health | Parenting - (Comments Off on Dancing in the rain)

Every night, when she’s supposed to be trying to fall asleep, the kid manages to find some sort of existential crisis.

Through tears she tells me that her brain just won’t stop. She tries to clear it – we give her colouring books, breathing exercises, tell her to count sheep – but she just can’t help thinking of bigger and more complicated questions. The thoughts just keep rolling through her mind. When she was not yet three she was asking me about the beginning of the universe and the first person to exist.

Last night she came to me and told me that sometimes she just doesn’t know why she’s alive.

And then I flash back. Me, much older, wondering why I was alive at all. What my purpose was. And I tell her that it’s simple: “You’re alive because I needed you.”

I don’t know if it satisfies her, but to me it is the absolute truth. Never have I been as happy, never have I felt this much love.

Even on the days that she’s most infuriating I miss her once she finally falls asleep. It’s so very strange this thing, motherhood.

At the same time I’m watching my daughter struggle with sleep and big thoughts just like I did, I telling her things that grown-ups told me, knowing she won’t believe me the same way I didn’t believe them.

That it does get better. That bullies being mean has more to do with them than it does with you. That sleep is important.

That someday she will find that just right passion to chase.

And sometimes you just need to dance in the rain.

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Thanks to Jack, Dad and Gord

August 22nd, 2016 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Canadiana | Personal - (Comments Off on Thanks to Jack, Dad and Gord)

Five years since Jack Layton died, a year since we buried my father, a few days after watching Gord Downie perform his last concert in his hometown, some lessons that I’ve learned from these men:

  1. Always wear sunscreen. By the end of his life, my father had nine separate moles removed because of skin cancer. He wore big hats, long sleeves, slathered on sunscreen and asked whether we were wearing it.
  2. Choose your words carefully. When I proudly showed my father my first ever printed byline he pointed out the word unique in my lede.
  3. Following on that point: Have the arguments to back up your opinions. Debating with my father was always infuriating. He would ask you to defend your point of view again and again and again. As a kid I hated it. As an adult, I understand what he was trying to teach me. I have strongly held believes, and I can defend them.
  4. Love, hope and optimism can change the world. I’m not particularly good at any of these things, but Jack taught me to strive for them.
  5. Isn’t is amazing what we can accomplish? Every day I look at my daughter and this rings true.
  6. Don’t stop until the job is done.
  7. Canada is a great country. The more people we welcome here the better we are. The ideals we have, we have to defend and build upon.
  8. No dress rehearsals, this is our life. There are no guarantees. Each of these men had less time than any of us would have thought.

We’re all in this together.

On Strength

August 21st, 2016 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Health | Personal - (Comments Off on On Strength)

This week is complicated.

Last night Joe and I watched The Tragically Hip concert together. On Friday I watched Evan Dunfee (who I happen to be related to – we share great-grandparents, the last time saw him he was about 3 or 4) race walk for almost four hours. He placed fourth, and then he was the bronze medalist, and then he was fourth again, and he took the whole thing astonishingly well. It’s also pretty amazing to read about his journey, and wonder how different my life could be if I had figured all this out the way he did.

Tomorrow is the fifth anniversary of the death of Jack Layton. We are also approaching the first anniversary of the day we buried my dad.

Right now, this day, I am finished my Masters. I am starting my career again. I am pushing myself to really go for fitness this time – I’m signed up for three races in the next three months.

I might have a real job, with an office and a commute and a salary and benefits within the next few weeks. For the first time in four years.

The rain suits my mood today. Dark, gloomy skies, time to sit inside and think.

In a week or two life will have changed again, for what seems to be the millionth time in the past five years. I’m going to take this day to feel feelings.

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