Tag Archive | growing up

Graduation Season

This week has been low on posts, I know, and I’d like to say I’m sorry but really I’m not. As you may remember, the girl is graduating high school this year and this week has been busy with ALL the things. We had the last band concert (I cried a little during the senior video but that was all). These are her BFFs (best flute friends).


Then we had Baccalaureate…


Last night we had the choir concert. Choir is second only to band in her life, and I love that music is her passion. She sings beautifully and had a short solo last night, which was a delightful surprise to me. (She swears she told me about it, but I really think I’d remember something like that!) I didn’t really get emotional until right before the senior video, when I looked around and spotted her across the room, and she saw me and we just made a little funny/happy face at each other and it hit me that I won’t have as many of those little moments anymore. And then the video was showing a baby picture and a senior photo of each kid and the photo of my cute little toddler popped up and bam, there went the tears. (This is her choir director. We love him.)


Anyway, please forgive me for not having the time to blog this week. Today I’ll show the proof that I have definitely been knitting at all of these events, though! I finished my beautiful beautiful Girl Power socks.


Yarn is Show Me Yarns Bootheel in color Girl Power and I love everything about it. I mean, I haven’t worn them yet because it’s been 85 degrees here for days upon days and I can’t stand the thought of wool socks on my feet but somehow I know that they will wear beautifully too. And I’m almost done with my Nebraska Rollers too!


Tomorrow is Graduation (EEK!) so I fully expect to get these done by the end of the weekend. These I might actually be able to wear sooner, since they’re shortie socks. Next I want to make these skimmers to try with my flats!


I’m getting old

I am no longer 29.

I took a selfie today, as so many people are doing right now, for that app that matches you to a museum painting. The chosen painting was a little off, as most of them are, but that wasn’t what struck me. No, what I saw when I looked at the picture was a streak of gray running through my bangs.

It’s been there for a couple of years, slowly getting bigger and more noticeable, partly because I stopped coloring my hair and the gray stands out more against my natural ashy blond than against the golden blond my hairdresser gave me for years. But I’m also getting older, and the grays are multiplying, and in more places than just my bangs. And do you want to hear the weirdest part?

I like it. I like that little gray streak. I am no longer 29, or 35, or 39, and I don’t want to pretend I am. I’m 41, and I’ve earned every gray hair on that head of mine. I’m proud of what I’ve done in those years.

I’ve delivered two children, and my husband and I have raised them to be wonderful teenagers, which means learning how to soothe a colicky baby, how to get a toddler to go to sleep, how to potty train a boy, and how to get those kids to become independent little people. (Okay, I’m still working on that last one). 41 means I survived all those busy/crazy/stressful/lovely childhood years. I’m still unsure how that whole empty nest thing will work, when I don’t have to be Mom every day, but that’s a problem for 44 Bonny. At 41, I like my life with teenagers.

I’ve been married to my high school sweetheart for over 20 years, and we have a lot of happy memories. But there have been many times when it’s been damn hard. There have been times when I honestly wondered if we’d make it. But we’re stubborn, and love each other enough to do the work and grow and figure out how to support each other in healthy ways. It’s still not perfect, but no relationship is. I’m a better wife at 41 than I was at 31, for sure.

I had a successful career, and I was able to walk away when it was no longer the right fit. Then I went back to work after a hiatus as a SAHM, and it was hard since I was switching fields and had a four-year gap in my work history. But I found something and I’m making it work. It gives me a healthy work-life balance, and at 41, I know how important that is to me.

I’ve made wonderful friends, and I’ve had some friends drift away. I’ve lost beloved pets and adopted new beloved pets. I bought a car all by myself. I’ve written books, full novel-length books, that I don’t think are terrible. I’ve learned skills that sustain me creatively, especially knitting. I’ve traveled to fun places, been to awesome concerts and shows, listened to gorgeous music of all genres.

I lost my father. And my father-in-law. And my husband’s grandfather. All three truly great men. I’ve gotten a hint of what it’s like to take care of the person who took care of me as a child. I survived a prolonged bout with depression, my first (and worst, but not last), at least partially tied to grief and loss and stress and physical changes. I’ve learned my own signs of depression, and I’ve learned that medication can make a huge difference. I’ve learned that life is so much better when you’re not crippled by depression and anxiety. I’ve learned that it can ebb and flow and it’s okay to not be okay sometimes.

I’ve learned that it’s so much better than okay to be weird or nerdy or geeky or whatever you want to be. It’s so wonderful to be passionate about the things that bring you joy, no matter what other people think about it (my Twilight shrine pleases me to no end). I learned to embrace my naturally wavy hair and stopped wearing so much makeup every day. Because I like who I am at 41. This is me, take it or leave it. I never could have said that at 29.

I’m a better person than I was ten years ago. I’m more patient, more open-minded, more forgiving, more supportive. That doesn’t mean I don’t still have a temper. I still get mad at my kids and my husband sometimes. I still get frustrated and I still say unkind things at times. But I’ve learned how to sometimes hold my tongue when my words aren’t helpful. I’ve learned–am still learning–how to apologize when I need to. It’s so freaking hard for me. But I’m trying, and doing much better with it than I could have done even five years ago.

No, of course I don’t love everything about aging. My kids have to help me with technology sometimes. I go to bed before 10 every night. My back aches more often than I’d like. My vision is getting worse and I don’t love that the skin on my eyelids is starting to sag ever so slightly. I don’t mind the wrinkles yet, but I know that may change when there are more and they’re more pronounced. I know I will experience more unpleasant things as I age. But I like to think I will be able to handle those changes, just as I’ve handled them so far.

In the grand scheme of things, 41 is not really that old. There’s still a lot of cool stuff ahead of you at 41. So when my birthday rolls around, I don’t need to make the jokes about how “I’m only 37, haha!” I want to be genuine, and honest, and celebrate every single one of my years.

I’m 41. And, guys? 41 is pretty damn good.

Edited to add: it’s not my birthday, but thank you for the well wishes! I’m just thinking about aging today.


p.s. believe me, the gray is a lot more noticeable in real life!

What I want my daughter to learn from me

I don’t know if I can write this post.

No, that’s not true. I can write this post easily. But I don’t know if I can publish this post.

Author Sarah Dessen recently had an essay published on Seventeen’s website. It was about a teenage friendship with an older boy. To me, it was about a need to please. It was about powerlessness, a lack of independence and confidence, seeking validation in others when you don’t know how to find it within yourself. I liked her essay. I liked it a lot. It resonated with me.

When I was young, I had this friend. We met in third grade and quickly became Best Friends. We did everything together. We had sleepovers every weekend, passed notes in school, talked for hours on the phone. She even called my mother “Mom” sometimes. We were going to be the crazy old ladies in rocking chairs on a porch someday. We were the kind of friends they invented those broken heart necklaces for. It’s a funny thing, how those necklaces are such a prominent symbol of those kinds of friendships. How often do those friends end up breaking your heart? Mine did.

When we were 15, I met a boy. I liked him, he liked me, all was good. We dated for a year, my entire sophomore year of high school. He got along with my friend, too, and we hung out together a lot. He and I talked about the future, where we’d go to college and what we’d study, how many kids we wanted and what we’d name them. I loved him. At the time, I really really loved him. Then he went off to a summer camp, a church-related thing, if I remember right. Funny thing: my friend went to the same camp. Even funnier: when they came home, he broke up with me. Most hilarious: he and friend started dating shortly after we broke up.

Haha, yeah, I was cracking up. Okay, not really. Okay, yes, I was, but not funny haha. I was a mess, as you can imagine. I was devastated about the boy, of course. I was blind-sided by this, since I’d thought we were happy and had a future together. (I was young. Forgive my naivete.)

But. My friend. I cried more tears over her than I ever did about the boy. I’d known him for a year. Her, I’d known for EIGHT. I thought she and I knew each other inside and out. I trusted her implicitly. I was so wrong.

I never said what I wanted to say, which was, “HOW? How could you possibly choose him over me? What did I do to deserve this? Yes, you deserve to be happy, but how can you be happy when you know I’m miserable and heartbroken?” I never told her, “How can you be so selfish?” Heaven help me, I never said, “Does it make you feel better to make me feel worse?”

What did I say? I don’t really remember. I remember crying a lot over the next several months. I remember throwing a bowl against the wall in my bedroom. I remember vomiting when I found out they’d slept together. I think I did ask the boy, “Why? Why her?” but apparently didn’t get a satisfactory answer. Something about how they had a lot in common, I think. Sure, I understood that. That’s why the three of us had a good time together. She and I had a lot in common. More than I realized, clearly. But why did neither of them have that internal switch that might have made them stop and say, “Hey, is this the right thing?” Why did neither of them decide they could consider someone else’s feelings too?

Oh, I remember teenage love. Boy, do I. I remember how deep and intense it is. You think it’s perfect and will last forever and nothing else matters. And I never want to deny anyone a chance at love. But at the very least, the barest minimum of concern for your “best friend” would suggest that you give her a bit of time to heal from the breakup before you start dating the boy. You might even check with her, say, “You know, I really like this guy. I think he might be someone important. But you’re important too, so I want to make sure you’re okay with it first.” For whatever reason, that never happened.

What happened next? I stopped talking to both of them immediately and moved on to my other friends. Ha. Nope. You’d think. I wish. But I didn’t really have other friends. I’d always been shy, and up to that point, that friend was all I wanted, all I needed. I was friendly with other kids at school, but I didn’t hang out with any of them. These two people were my support system. So what does a 15-year-old girl do when her support system is the thing bringing her down? In my case, she tries desperately to keep it going. Yep, I accepted them dating. I stayed “friends” with both of them and never confronted my friend. I could lash out at him, but never her.

I shouldn’t say never. It happened once, when she lied to him about something she had done and blamed it on me. I yelled that day. Loud and fierce. And boy, did it feel good.

I wish I’d kept that feeling. But I didn’t. I kept the feeling of “I have nobody else, so I better hang on to these two. They’re the best I can get.” I kept that feeling for my entire junior year of high school. The boy went back and forth, dating both of us at different times. He’d give us enough attention that we wouldn’t leave, then switch to the other girl. We split proms: I went to his Senior, she took him to our Junior. The friend drove me to school in awkward silence. Other people talked about us. A few girls tried to get me to walk away, and I shrugged it off. I tried to move on a bit, dating a couple of boys, but it wasn’t right. The best part of those dates was how jealous it made the boy. It always made him boomerang back to me. I liked it. And I hated that I liked it.

There was part of me that knew the whole situation was messed up, that I deserved better, that I’d be happier if I could remove myself. But I couldn’t bring myself to do it. It was too scary to do that when the alternative was such an unknown.

Was I being selfish too? I don’t know. Maybe. Should I have been the bigger person and walked away to let them have their shot? Maybe. It would have been the better thing for me, that’s for sure. But I didn’t. I couldn’t. Not until the pattern was broken.

He went off to college, and I started my senior year. I was active in a lot of fun things at school, newspaper and theatre and choir. I loosened up and started hanging out with other people. Other boys started flirting with me. Not just one, but a few. It was refreshing how free I felt. I felt amazing. I was doing cool things, finding cool people, all on my own. I could be me without worrying about whether I was the right “me” for the friend or the boy.

That’s when the magic happens, isn’t it? When you come into your own? Another boy started flirting with me. This was a boy I’d noticed before, but we were never single at the same time until now. We started dating and it felt so right. It felt exciting and safe, comforting and warm. It felt happy. He liked ME, just me. And I liked him. I liked him so much that I happily broke a date with the other boy one weekend. He’d come home from college and we were supposed to go to a movie. But I wanted to see the nice boy instead, so I cancelled. I said I didn’t feel well. He didn’t believe me. I didn’t care. Oh, he found out eventually, yelled at me, cried at me, begged me not do anything but kiss the nice boy. I laughed at that one. His power was gone. I had finally found my own power.

I think most teenage girls have a similar experience in their past, a time we all wish we’d been stronger sooner, a time we wish we had valued ourselves more than another person. Maybe we all need those experiences to get to the point where we can value ourselves. Those are the experiences that stick with us. Here it is, over 20 years later, and I can still vividly remember those emotions. It’s not really about the boyfriend. I don’t miss the boy at all. Really, once he went to college, I never missed him again. I married the nice boy and 20 years later, he’s my person, my other half. It’s not really even about the friend, though I do miss her. Or rather, I miss that first deep friendship, that innocent, all-encompassing devotion. That’s long-gone.

My friendships now are different. I don’t trust as easily. Loyalty and compassion mean more to me now. I have less patience for liars and fakers, and make a point to spend my time with people who are genuine and kind.

I’ve told my teenage daughter variations of this story several times, each time emphasizing whichever part is relevant to her struggles. I wish I could keep her from going through what I had to go through. I want her to be the strong version of herself without having to go through that valley of weakness.

Why say all this? What’s the point of this post? I can’t say it better than Sarah did in her essay: “What do I want? To teach her to be wary without being fearful. To know that she can trust her gut. That if something feels wrong, that’s all the reason you need to get out of there. Don’t worry about being nice, or hurting someone’s feelings: they’ll get over it. Or, they won’t, and so what? You don’t have to wait, I want to tell her, until you have no choice. You have more power than you know. So say no. Say it loudly. Say it twice. And then get out of there, and come home.”