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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.

 

Growth Rate

May 7th, 2017 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Parenting - (Comments Off on Growth Rate)

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.

But…

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.

 

 

I’m watching you in the playground, surrounded by kids. Doing your own thing, enjoying the fresh air and the sunshine. And I’m wondering how we get from this you to that you. The seven-year-old who tells me sometimes she wants to be dead. Who is angry and scared about so many things she never voices. Who told me the other night that you were afraid of the bad guys who might get into the house. Who asks me regularly what your life means and why you are here.

You make friends so easily. You’re fearless and then suddenly you’re not. You’re so kind. Too kind. You’re kind to everyone but yourself and I wonder if I’ve modelled that for you.

Sometimes it feels as though I don’t know how to be more than one thing at once. I can be a mother or a wife, or a student or an employee, or a daughter or a sister. I can’t be all of those things at once. I’m constantly failing at something. I couldn’t even successfully be a daughter to two parents at once.

And amidst all the roles I play, I have lost the ability to take care of myself as well.

Sometimes I wonder if I am only capable of loving one person at a time and you take it all up, wrap it around you. I don’t begrudge the amount of love you take from me, I give it freely. You are everything good.

You are also exhausting. Always talking, asking questions. Always wanting to know more, do more, explore more, find out more.

Sometimes it feels as though I can never be enough for you any more. When you were a baby, I was enough. I could hold you and cuddle you and talk to you. I knew what you needed because your needs were so simple. Food, sleep, diaper changes and love.

Now you need compassion, help with your homework, a shoulder to cry on. You need activity. You need things to do and things to focus on. You need questions answered. And you still need food, sleep and love.

But you can also give now, in so many ways you couldn’t before. You give the most wonderful hugs. You tell me stories. You say that you love me and sometimes that I’m the best mommy in the world. The same kid that yells at me for saying no will come to me when all she needs to hear is that it’s going to be okay.

It is a gift that you can be your absolute self with me, for now, and I have to remind myself what a gift it is.

I currently have eight tattoos, two of which are cover-ups of previous tattoos – one that needed improvements and one that I had fallen out of love with. And there’s one more I might want to make adjustments to.

I got this little monkey when the kid was a baby. Practically brand new. It was drawn by a friend for her room and I decided to get it permanently on my left wrist to represented this wild creature that had come into my life and stolen my heart.

We did call her monkey.

Now it’s seven years later and this monkey, it’s not quite the representation I thought it would be.

If I had waited until I knew her better I could have done so much more with this tribute to her. Cartwheels and bubbles and smiles. A blur of movement. Bright colours and laughter.

She is nothing that I thought she would be, but everything I could have ever wanted. A monkey, but not that monkey.

Things I Love This Week

March 26th, 2017 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Parenting | Personal - (Comments Off on Things I Love This Week)

Periodically I enjoy a list of the things that are filling up my bucket at the moment. Here are a few right now:

  1. Heavy, the new single from Linkin Park – I’ve been a fan of Linkin Park since Hybrid Theory came out. That album and Meteora are probably two of my favourites ever. When I first heard Heavy I was surprised by the different sound, but now I could listen to it on repeat all day.
  2. Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller – This book came up as a recommendation in Chapters, on my Amazon page and on Goodreads and by the fourth or fifth time I saw it I decided to just buy it and see what it was all about. I’m not yet half way through the book and I’ve been totally drawn in. The chapters switch between focussing on Flora, the daughter, and letters written by Ingrid, her mother. (Affiliate Link). If the ending sucks, I’ll update you.
  3. Bananagrams, The Game of Life, etc. – I love board games. My sister and I always played them together, we played with friends, family. As I got older, Joe and I played board games with friends, sometimes hosting them at our place, sometimes playing at someone else’s. The kid has a growing collection of board games, including The Game of Life Junior edition, but as far as I’m concerned that one pales in comparison to the original, which is still easy for young children to play. Soon she will have the necessary skills to play Scattergories. 
  4. Lucy Neatby’s Cat’s Pajamas Hand Painted yarn. Specifically in Fiesta. I love this yarn and its gorgeous colours. I’m working on a pair of socks with. I’ve got one sock done and am now realizing that I won’t have enough yarn to finish the second sock. I think I’ll be able to get the heel flap done, and that’ll be about it. This is a tragedy. But if I’m forced to order another skein, I can make the kid a matching pair… 
  5. The Summa Strategies weekly update email. For anyone interested in what’s going on on Parliament Hill this is a useful tool. And I’m a sucker for useful tools that help people stay informed. I also subscribe to iPolitics‘ daily emails and the Globe’s morning update. I’ve also signed up for updates on American news from Buzzfeed.
  6. The West Wing. We’re re-watching/watching. The first time around we got distracted sometime in season three and never finished. I’m not sure how that happened because it is such an excellent show. I was a huge fan of Sorkin’s Sports Night and the writing is just as good. The characters are amazing. And the stories are so very relevant now it’s almost as though Aaron Sorkin knew what was coming.
  7. Arrival and Moonlight. I have now seen a few of the Academy Award nominees. I found La La Land boring and Manchester By The Sea well… boring. Nothing really happened in either of those movies. Arrival and Moonlight were human stories that made me feel.
  8. Rupaul’s Drag Race Season 9 – The return of one of my favourite shows on Out TV (And OutTVGo for those of us without cable). At the moment I’m rooting for Charlie Hides, but I’ve heard rumours of some leaks and spoilers. We’ll see.

In dogs we trust

March 16th, 2017 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Parenting | Personal - (Comments Off on In dogs we trust)

We spent the first few days of March break out at Chateau Montebello – I will probably write more about that later. There were many activities, some regular and some special for spring break. (Ha. Spring. We had 20+ cm of snow in our driveway when we got back).

We were only there for one full day, but we packed it full, starting with a great breakfast followed by hanging out with my kid and some sled dogs.

It was a lot of fun. First watching the dogs who clearly loved the run – they barked and howled when they weren’t running and rolled in the snow when they were done. We snuggled in to the sled and off they went, following two other sleds, merrily on their way.

It was an odd experience. A man behind us and seven dogs, pulling us along. Nothing we could do but trust the man, trust the dogs and enjoy the ride. Bumps and all. (And there were bumps, we got air at some point).

The kid laughed the whole way – unbelievable giggles the whole way – except for when she screamed with delight. When that happened the man behind us couldn’t help but laugh too.

And I sat back, trusting we would stay on the trail, stay safely away from trees, land softly. Trusting the dogs, and laughing along.

Peaceful.

Ticking clocks

February 15th, 2017 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Parenting | Personal - (Comments Off on Ticking clocks)

I kept the kid home from school today. She told me last night that she wasn’t feeling well, and then again this morning. She’s been tired and emotional lately. I thought it was going to be a snow day, so I had anticipated having her home.

But partly I kept her home because I wanted her to be here.

She’s seven now. Seven. I can’t quite understand how the years have stacked up like that, but here we are. She’s seven and my grandfather is still 90 years older than she is, and he’s dying.

He’s dying mostly just because he’s 96, turning 97 in July, but also because his health is failing him. Because he’s 97. He’s 97 and he’s dying and the last two times I’ve tried to go and see him we haven’t been allowed to, so I haven’t actually seen or spoken to him since before Christmas. And I don’t remember what we talked about and I don’t know if I’ll see him again.

And then there’s my dog.

My puppy, who we brought home with us 11 years ago. He picked us and he came home right before Christmas and the two of us are bonded. Hardcore. No two better nap buddies will ever be found.

And now he’s 11, and the last dog my family owned lived to be 11, and Henry has a heart murmur and a paralyzed back leg and even though he acts like a puppy, as much as always, I’m scared to think that someday too soon I won’t have a Henry any more, and there will never be another like him.

And if she’s already seven, then the years are going by too fast, and his time is so short.

So today I kept my kid home from school. Partly because she wasn’t feeling well, and partly because I want to keep my close ones closer. Because there just isn’t enough time.

He thinks she’s nuts

Birth day

January 13th, 2017 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Parenting - (Comments Off on Birth day)

Seven years ago I was finally introduced to the most important person in my life.

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(I cannot believe it was seven years ago).

Back then she needed me for absolutely everything, and now she barely needs me for anything. Except that she knows she needs me, which I don’t think will every go away. So that’s lucky.

The love I feel for her can still bring me to tears. I didn’t ever know that was a thing before. That just watching another person live could bring you to tears because you are so deeply connected to them. Even when you hate them you love them. Even when you want them to go away you want to be with them.

I want nothing more than for her to know she is loved and she is protected. That she is smart and strong and full to the brim with possibility.

All of the best parts of me, and all of the best parts of her Daddy, and every bit her own person – more and more every day. She fascinates me. Even when I’m confused or angry, I’m fascinated.

She gives the best hugs.

Seven years ago I met my favourite person in the word, and she is so much my everything. I don’t know what I ever would have done without her.

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What.

January 9th, 2017 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Parenting | Personal - (Comments Off on What.)

I have been struggling with a simple question lately. What do I want?

What do I want to be? What do I want to do for a living? The answer always shrinks down to what am I capable of, really. What can I actually do. My brain convinces me that there is little I can ask for – despite all evidence to the contrary.

What do I want?

All I want is for my daughter to be happy. To be healthy. To see me happy and healthy. To be better at seeing herself.

What do I want?

I want to talk to my dad. I want to ask his opinion and get a response. The kind he always used to give. It wasn’t always easy to hear but it was often right.

I want to feel well rested for just one day. I want to see in me what others so clearly see.

I want someone to give me a glimpse just five years down the road so that I have an inkling that I will have answers. I want more than confusion and doubt.

I want to feel good about the things I’ve actually accomplished. I want to sit back and have a little fun. I want there to be moments when the hard work and worry fades away.

So, now, when.

2017 Incoming

December 30th, 2016 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Health | Parenting | Personal - (Comments Off on 2017 Incoming)

It seems like it’s been a rough year. There were definite highs and some low lows. Crap getting thrown all over the bloody place. I’m worn out and ready to be hopeful. A couple of years ago I trusted my instincts and went back to school and it probably couldn’t have been better for me. This year I trusted my instincts and sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t at all. Now I’m trying to trust them again, and it’s hard.

I need to focus and simplify. That’s my goal. And to take better care of me. There are a lot of things I can’t control and a very few that I can. So that is where my strength will lie.

I can’t control who other countries elect as their leader, but I can control how much sleep I get and how much water I drink. I can control my spending and my food intake and the amount of time I spend exercising at the lovely gym I pay for monthly.

I spend so much time telling my daughter that she needs to try to control her brain, to shift her focus, to move away from the dark into the light, but shouldn’t I also be getting that message?

I’m tried of trying to get better, I’d like to just be better.

So that’s what I’m going to try to do from now on. Be in the moment, taking care of the most important things. Knowing that making the hard decision now will make things easier later. Taking care of smaller things so that they all roll into something bigger.

I started decluttering the house a big yesterday. I started with the mantle, picking off things that aren’t needed and putting them in a box, dusting as I went. I cleaned out my toques and scarves and shoes in the front closet. I cleaned off my bookshelf and said goodbye to those titles who have been waiting for me to get to them for too long. Before the week is out I’ll clean out my dresser. Yesterday I bought new socks and got rid of two pairs that haven’t been what I needed. I’ll say goodbye to clothes that I think I should wear but that I really don’t feel comfortable in, and I’ll pass them on to someone else who might.

I’ll tidy my office next week, and make it ready for me to sit and create – writing, drawing, watercolours. Whatever I feel like doing. The walls are full of inspiration, the shelves full of books to read and notebooks to fill. I love my office.

I started knitting again over the holidays – a thing I enjoy doing that I had stopped for no real reason except there were other things to do. I made two hats, started a blanket, and planned to take some classes that will keep me going in the new year.

I will exercise because I know that it is good for me, I know that it makes me feel better in the end. Because it will help me sleep better, which is something I desperately need. I will do both and eat better because I have a 6-almost-7 year old I have to keep up with, because I need more energy to take care of myself, because I need to be able to walk across New York City this spring and do a 10K in the fall. Because this body needs to carry me through the hard times.

Because the end of 2017 is only going to be better than 2016 if I bloody well make it.

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