I had a panic attack last Saturday. I couldn’t stop the tears. I was filled with fear.
I had just returned from a work trip to Toronto, I was tired, things had been moving rapidly and I was full of doubt. I signed up for a 5k race that I was not prepared for, but I couldn’t just not go. I’ve done that before – panicked and not let myself try. But I’ve done this before. I had to at least try.
But then getting downtown in time to get my race kit – first getting dropped off at the wrong place and having to walk up to a totally different location, fast as my shin splints could carry me, to make sure I got there on time, rocked my confidence.
If it hurt to walk for 10 minutes as fast as I could, how could I possibly make it through a 5k. Why was I stupid enough to not only sign up, but advertise the fact that I was doing this?
I just didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want to quit, but what if I hurt myself?
And then my little girl wrote me a note. She wrote a note that said, quite simply: You can do it, I believe in you.
I swear, I don’t know what I did to deserve her. To have her there, not only assuring me that I was capable, but cheering me on when I did, in fact, cross that finish line, that was something.
And I crossed that finish line. I turned up my music, I pumped myself up, and I walked – with a bit of jogging – and I finished that race in less time than the last one. Not only did it take less time, but it also felt a lot better. So the next one – now scheduled for July 1 – will be even better.
All my life I have been a bit of a breaking news junkie. I didn’t really realize this until I went to journalism school and figured out that I was a quick, precise writer. Unfortunately at the time I did not figure out that political journalism was a better fit for me than sports journalism.
Now, I had known that thoughts transfer from my brain to my hands quickly since high school when I was always first done in exams. But to understand this was not just a quirk but a skill was a boon to my confidence.
Then once I finally figured out that I was not a sports journalist and tried being a political junkie things really came together. And then I got the job I was made to do. I was a media monitor and analyst. And I was good.
Watching the media, seeing where the story starts and what it is then boiled downed to, sharing what people should and need to know, that’s my jam.
It’s fascinating. Someone presents the media with a story – an idea, a report, an open letter – and the media then picks the top two or three things they want to say about it, and then other people respond and so the story lives or dies and how it might evolve.
And it was my job to watch the process from start to finish. Not only to watch, but to share with others how the story was involving and what was changing when.
Now I’m taking on that role on a grander scale, monitoring more and different things. I got the opportunity to jump back into my old, more specific role this week and it reminded me how good this feels and how good I am at it.
Slowing down, looking at the bigger picture, gathering information and analyzing it more deeply, that’s the next step.
It used to be that I would get home from school, get myself a snack and switch on the TV. In elementary school, especially after my sister started high school and we no longer got home at the same time, the TV was mine and I could choose what I wanted. And what I usually wanted was Degrassi reruns.
Last weekend was Ottawa Comic Con, my annual Mothers’ Day present to myself, and the cast of Degrassi was there. Specifically Joey Jeremiah, Caitlyn, Snake and Tessa, who do all have real names but that doesn’t really matter, because I grew up with Joey, Caitlyn, Snake and Tessa, etc.
(Though Snake always seemed like a really nice guy, and Spike was awesome, Lucy was always my favourite).
Degrassi covered all the topics a show for young people should in those days – pregnancy, abortion, teen suicide, HIV/AIDS, drug use, sexual assault, even small things that every teenager thinks that they’re dealing with all alone.
One of the things that has always struck me, thinking back on Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High is that the actors looked like real kids, and the stories were stories no one else seemed to want to tell. The actors on the panel this weekend talked about the fact that grown ups would sometimes question the stories they were telling, but always let them tell those stories.
I cannot say how important that was to those of us growing up with the kids from Degrassi.
And yes, my generation’s Degrassi continues to be the best.
Something disturbing has been happening in this household recently and I can’t ignore it any more. You see, a few years ago I had a baby — it seems both forever ago, as she’s always been here, but also like it must have been last week — and I cannot now find that baby.
Here she is:
You see her? She’s sleeping soundly beside me on the couch, taking up less room than one full cushion on our love seat. I often place her there, until she figured out how to roll and it was no longer safe. Then she started walking and she had to reach up above her head to hold my hand.
She could barely see over the coffee table.
And even though we knew she was big for her age, she was always so little.
I guess it was happening gradually and I only sort of noticed. But then I walked downstairs and she was spread out on the couch and she was stretched from one end to the other. I look at her and I see a difference in her face. There are moments when it hits me right in the heart that she’s growing up and it’s happening faster than I was prepared for.
There are the good things – she can take herself to the bathroom, dress herself, make her own snacks. She’s got activities of her own, and friends she loves. We can have conversations and laugh together. She loves school and she’s a good learner.
She has her own personality. She is a person now.
We are rapidly getting to that place where I won’t be able to pick her up any more.
We are getting to a place where we have to have more serious conversations because she is able to do more things on her own.
We are getting to a place where I am reminded, when I notice the rapidity of her growing up, that soon she won’t want or need me around as much, and then at all. And my heart starts missing her already.
Even though I can still sneak into her room after she’s asleep and pull her covers over her and kiss her forehead, and she might wake up just a little bit and smile because she knows her mommy is there.