A NEVER-ENDING CYCLE

I feel my mother hands gently shaking me.

“Darling, time to wake up. Breakfast is almost ready”. I hear her leaving the room and I glance over at my alarm, through blurry eyes I see my alarm clock which reads 5.00 AM in big red block numbers, I groan, and throw my covers off. Another day, another early wake up.

Breakfast consists of oatmeal, with nonfat milk, a banana and a tall glass of orange juice. Typical for a training day, the same breakfast I have had every morning since I was about 6 years old. Mum has been harassing me about how a healthy diet impacts my skating.

She always said “Fiber and calcium make you strong, that means bigger jumps and longer spins”

After eating my meal, I change into long leggings, a Lorna Jane tank top and a big jumper on top. I brush my teeth, splash some water on my face and get into the car. Doing this same routine almost every morning for 8 years, I’ve learned to get everything done in 10 minutes.

In the car, I start to put my headphones on but Mum stops me.

“Jessica” she says with a serious tone “nationals are two days away hunny, you still haven’t landed that double salchow, you’re not gonna win without it. You have to work harder, make sure coach Angela is working with you during practice” Mum continues talking, but I slowly being to zone out, its the same lecture I get every year before nationals, every year since my first nationals completion when I was 8. I still hate when she pressures me like this.

Once we reach the rink I jump out of the car, grab my Zuca bag and head towards the rink. Walking in the door, I see my friends. I run up to them giving them a hug, we start chatting about school and boys and the latest skating gossip.

“JESSICA!” I hear my Mum scream my name, “warm up and stretch now, class starts in 30 minutes and I didn’t wake up early for you to waste your time” she tells me. I nod and roll my eyes, same old, same old. As I begin to warm up, jumping up and down, doing some barre movements from our off ice ballet class and eventually stretching. I start to put my skates on as Mum walks over “Jessica, you really need to push today, we’ve worked too hard to lose at nationals. It’s a big deal, you need to push yourself more” she tells me. I hate when she says ‘we’, ‘we’ve worked too hard’ as if she’s the one falling on hard ice day in and day out, its the worst of her speeches, and by now I know it well, it never changes and it never makes me feel better about all the work I have put into my skating.

“OK GIRLS ON THE ICE” Coach Angela calls out, I look up. Our three coaches for the day are Coach Angela, Coach Matthew and Coach Alexis. We start with footwork, it is my least favourite area to work on, then spins and in the last hour of practice we do jumps. I see my mum jump up and come over to the barrier, I pick up my speed, enter my take off position, I push off the ice and around I go and THUD…

The Fall

I land on my hip as I stand up I see my Mum beckoning me over with her index finger and Coach

Angela roll her eyes.

“Jessica, what was that, you’re sideways in the air, your legs aren’t locked and your core strength is lacking, I told you to push” she looks disappointed, I know that face well. I started competing when I was six, which means that for eight years this is the face I have looked into anytime I fail a new jump or spin.

“Coach Angela” she screams out, “You need to push her harder, I won’t accept mediocrity!” The same thing I have been hearing since I was six, she turns on her heal and leaves. I try a few more times, then class is over and the jump still isn’t perfected.

Off Ice work consists of a lot of jumping, working on height so I can land my jump. I am nervous about competing but I am more nervous about disappointing mum, when I was nine I came in second place and she didn’t speak to me the whole plane ride home, she says it wasn’t my fault and she wasn’t mad but I know she was disappointed about the loss. So I jump higher and higher and higher.

Then we work on barre work for flexibility and to relax my muscles, I know this workout so well I can do it in my sleep, so I zone out and follow the students in front of me, knowing that tomorrow I will get the whole day to rest.

After that it’s lunch time, my favourite part of the day. As I eat my sandwich for lunch Mum starts telling me all the things I need to be working on today and tomorrow before the competition, things I already know, things I have been doing for year that I learnt from this exact speech. I always believed that as I got older Mum would start to understand that I know my own body and skating well, I know when I haven’t done a good jump or when my spin doesn’t last long enough. I thought that one day she would take a step make and just be my mother, not my ‘Momager’, but she never did, things never changed and our relationship has always been strained because of it.

Mum often forgets that I am her daughter, not just a Figure Skater, it is the biggest struggle I have in my social life. I appreciate that she cares, but some days I want a mother not another coach.

TO BE CONTINUED…

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