Tag Archive | motherhood

Like my father

There’s a song on the most recent Brandi Carlile album that starts out, “I haven’t seen my father in some time / But his face is always staring back at me”. Every time I hear it, it’s bittersweet. I miss my dad. After six years without him, the memories aren’t as fresh. They’re faded, like the photos we took thirty years ago. When I make the effort, I can see his face. I can see his smile, hear his voice, feel his hug. But those aren’t automatic, fresh like they were the first couple of years. I know I take after him in some ways. The small jaw that required years of orthodontia? Thanks, Dad. The crazy crooked toes that look weird and caused me to have foot surgery years ago? Yep, that’s him too. There are things I can appreciate, of course: the wave in my hair, or my smile. But what I appreciate the most is seeing my dad in my son.

I don’t talk about the boy much. He’s younger, quieter, not as outgoing as the girl. Not as active in as many extracurricular activities. But he’s just as delightful as she is, in such different ways. He is growing into such an amazing person and I love seeing the changes happen. If there’s a silver lining to the girl going to college (besides her getting to live her exciting life), it’s that it might give him a chance to shine more. I’m looking forward to some time with him, some time to focus on him. (My girl, I know you’re reading this. You, and the rest of my readers, should know that this doesn’t take away from how much I love having us all together. How much I will miss you. It’s like they are two separate things, existing on the same plane.)

Physically, the boy is very much like my dad, like my brother. They are tall, slim in a way I envy and he feels is gangly, I think. He has my hair, those crooked toes (but even worse than mine. Sorry, kid.) and that small jaw (yeah, sorry about that too). And even though some of the features aren’t all the same, there’s something about his gorgeous smile that reminds me of my dad. Most importantly, I feel my dad’s spirit in him. I don’t mean a ghostly spirit. Just…character, or soul.

Like my dad was, the boy is shy, introverted, quiet in larger groups. But get him in a small group where he’s comfortable and his quick wit and delightful sense of humor come out in full force. I don’t know if anyone outside our little family group knew just how funny my dad could be. In general, like Dad, the boy is a gentle person. He is calm and patient, and does his best to avoid confrontation, though being a teenager makes it hard sometimes. It takes a lot to get him fired up. That part skipped a generation: I didn’t inherit that temperament, to my husband’s dismay. I tend to have a hot temper more often than not. It has gotten better over the years, at least.

The boy is smart, and really could do anything he decides to put his mind to, like my dad learning computers early on to support his family. I don’t think he loved what he did, so I hope my son finds something that brings him more joy, but I admire my dad for what he did for us. And I think the boy has that loyalty too, that desire to make sure that the ones he loves are happy. He’s not overly demonstrative with his emotions, not the type to give random hugs just because. But he’s open to affection, willing to accept it, and every once in a while he’ll say or write something so sweet and thoughtful that my heart melts.

He’s my boy, my son, my baby. He got many wonderful qualities from my husband, and I love those things. I see myself in him, and love that too. I love all the things that make him unique. And I love him even more for all the ways he’s like my dad.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad. Miss you.

Mother’s Day Recap

This is very belated, but that seems to be the norm for me lately: did all you moms out there have a lovely Mother’s Day on Sunday? I hope so! Mine was quite nice, I have to say. The kids got up early to have breakfast with me (waffles and bacon cooked by the husband, yum!) and we hung out at the table and talked for a while after. It’s funny; when my kids were very little I just wanted alone time for Mother’s Day. Now that they’re older and don’t see me/need me very much, I do want that time with them. And then some alone time, right? Anyway, then we opened gifts (yes, I got yarn, which I’d picked out, but I also got chocolate and some fun colors of ink cartridges for my fountain pens). I even got gifts and cards from both kids! I felt very loved and appreciated and it was the perfect morning.

But the highlight of the day came in the afternoon: the girl’s graduation from high school!!! Everything went well: we got decent seats and I managed to save enough for everybody and I got good photos and I cried a little (I think the husband even teared up a bit). The girl was calm and composed and gorgeous and I’m so proud. And relieved, to be honest. Relieved to be past all the end-of-year concerts and meetings and deadlines and this and that and the other thing and ohyesdon’tforgetthat! Relieved that now we can focus on the exciting going off to college bit.

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Perhaps unsurprisingly, I did have knitting time over the weekend, especially while waiting for graduation to start. I finished my Nebraska Roller socks and cast on a new pair of socks immediately. I know I said I was going to do some skimmer socks next but I lied. I cast on for another pair of shorties, this time with a ribbed cuff, and I pulled out some gorgeous little leftover balls that coordinate perfectly. The green is the Madtosh in Sea Glass and the blue/green variegated is Hedgehog Fibres in Medusa. Fingers crossed I have enough Medusa for two sock bodies.

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Finally, I also had a good chunk of time to devote to my Supernatural Kindness shawl. I bound it off last night, sooner than I anticipated…mostly because I ran out of yarn too soon to do the three rows of garter stitch. I thought about having a solid colored edge, since the garter would help prevent curling, but mostly was too lazy to find the right yarn. I was ready to be done! I think blocking will help immensely. With any luck I can get it washed and pinned out tonight, and then I can take pictures to share over the weekend!

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).

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Then we had Baccalaureate…

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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.)

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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.

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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!

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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!

 

Updates on…everything

I don’t have a FO to share today. I can share some progress on my sock, my FlexiFlip sock. It’s going well. I’m getting used to the needles and they’re not feeling as unwieldy as they did at first. They’re still not as fast as DPNs for me but I think I’ll get there pretty quick. I am loving this yarn. The colors are fun, and even though the color changes are different than I was expecting, I like it a lot. I mean, look how cool the heel turned out!

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It’s smooth and slick, almost slippery, from the polyester, and maybe you’d think acrylic/poly sock yarn, what is she thinking? But no, seriously, it feels good, kind of cool (literally). It’s a nice switch from the wool/nylon yarn, though I’m sure that’ll always be my primary sock yarn blend. And it’ll make lovely spring/fall socks, I think. So yeah, these are zipping along.

My sweater, however, is not zipping along. I’ve got most of one sleeve done and I’m trying to work on it at night, but it’s boring and I keep having to adjust it as I go around the little sleeve and I’m ready for it to be done so I can wear it. We’re taking one more short road trip on Monday for the last music school audition, so I’ll take that and only that with me and force myself to work on it.

Edward went to the shop and spent a few days there getting a new front bumper and some new shields or something, and it went through my insurance so I only had to pay the deductible. We timed it out so that they could work on it while I was out of town with the girl last weekend, and then the husband and I carpooled on Monday, so I didn’t even have to pay for a rental car. So overall that whole experience was much better than I was expecting, and they did a fantastic job and even detailed him perfectly so that he looks almost brand-new and I love him.

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Grace has adjusted wonderfully to her meds for Addison’s disease. I even gave her the injection myself last month! And we were able to lower her steroid dose so she’s not quite as thirsty and ravenous as she was at first. Her energy level is up and she’s very frisky and loves to play with Duncan again. She and Duncan are buddies; Jack kind of gets left out but also I think he feels threatened by Duncan at times. He’s usually pretty happy to hang out with his people while the other two go nuts.

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Duncan hasn’t gone into any trouble lately (knock on wood) and keeping them in the kitchen when we’re gone seems to be working well. I don’t love it, but it’ll work until Duncan gets a little older and hopefully outgrows his destructive tendencies.

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The girl has received acceptance letters from two of her four schools and I am delighted and super proud of her. We’re still waiting for a decision from one school and like I said, we have the last audition Monday, so we probably won’t have a final decision for another few weeks. We’re very lucky that she’s received automatic academic scholarship offers from all four schools, and a music scholarship from at least one, but even with those, and her college savings account, there’s still a lot of financial ground to make up. It’s scary, and it’s not even my college life! But we so want her to have a great experience, to have the education and flute professor and opportunities that she wants to have. I’m excited for everything that is ahead for her.

At the same time, though, we can’t just pay for it. It’s not feasible, and we can’t take on huge debt for it either. College is scary. If you have kids, start saving yesterday! But we’ll figure it out with a lot of little things. We’ll help a little. She’ll probably have to get a part-time job, a small student loan, and with luck, several of the private scholarships she’s applying for. I know it’ll work out, I really do. But I’m a mother, and a worrier, and those things together are rough when it’s time for college! Life is stressful in my house quite often these days, but there’s still a thread of excitement that comes out just when we need the encouragement.

Sorry this turned out so long; I didn’t mean to ramble. If you’ve made it this far, thanks for your patience!

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.

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

Looking Toward the Empty Nest

The other day, I said something that felt extremely weird and kind of freaked me out. I was talking to someone at work about my kids, and I said “My son is 14, and my daughter is almost 18.” It was the first time I’d said it aloud that the girl is going to be 18 soon and the reality sort of smacked me in the face. I know I’m not the first to say how fast they grow up and all that, and it’s true, but it’s more than that. If nothing else, I don’t feel old enough to have an 18-year-old!

I don’t wish they were little again. I very much enjoy my kids as older people, and I think I’m a better mom to older kids than I was to toddlers and young kids. I do wish I’d had more patience when they were young. I wish I’d taken more videos of them. If I could travel through time and visit their younger selves for a short time, that would be delightful, but I don’t want to do it all again. I think it’s more that you get to this point as a parent and realize the biggest part of your job is almost done, and just when they get to be really cool, interesting people, they leave you.

Then you start to question yourself: did I do it right, or right enough at least? Did I give them a happy childhood, fond memories to look back on? Do they have the skills they need to become independent, responsible adults? Will they be okay on their own?

I feel confident that she does have the skills, and she will be okay. I’m excited to see where she lands next, and watch her do all the exciting college things. As another parent told me, this is what’s supposed to happen. It’s a good thing, a happy thing.

But we all know there’s a thread of sadness too. I enjoy her company very much, I enjoy us as a family very much, and to know that we’ll see her so much less is a hard pill to swallow, even as I tell myself that it’s a good thing. She wants to go out of state, so she might be four hours away, or she might be ten hours away. Wherever she goes, she’ll be able to come home for visits. And I want her to go out into the world, to have the courage to venture away from home and try new and exciting things. I’m the tiniest bit jealous of the adventure she’s embarking on.

I am so very happy for her. But I am a little sad for me. I will miss her, if for no other reason than she’s more chatty than the two men in the house and she keeps me company.

However, a little is okay. I feel more optimistic and excited than I feel sad. But I also I think I’ve been in denial so far this school year. I thought I’d be a mess, crying at every “last” event, but it hasn’t happened…yet. Maybe it’s because we haven’t had that many true “last” things yet; most of them will come this semester. Maybe we’ve been so caught up in all the day-to-day stuff, all the college application stuff, that I haven’t had time to consider what it all represents. But I feel it looming. The college acceptances are coming in, the choices are getting narrowed down, that big birthday is coming closer. An empty nest is not that far away. I have primarily been Mom for the last 18 years. Who will I be after that?

I confess, I have entertained thoughts of life after kids, and they’re not all bad. The husband and I have talked of traveling a bit more (especially if we can get one of those grown-up kids to dogsit for us). We’ve talked about moving to a house that’s not a fixer upper in an area that’s not determined based on the local schools. We’ve thought about what paths we might want our careers to go, once we’re not quite so constrained financially. So yeah, it’s a little exciting for us too, for me. That’s what I’ll try to focus on as we move into this last stretch of senior year.

I don’t usually do those “pick a word for the new year” challenges, but it seems pretty clear that this year’s word is “Bittersweet.”

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Hell Hath No Fury Like A Mother Scorned

Mom-fury is real, guys. I’ve been a mom for almost 18 years now, and I’ve been mad on my kids’ behalf before, but yesterday was the first time I felt pure white-hot blinding fury. I have calmed down some, but the anger is still there.

Someone treated one of my kids badly. Someone in a position of power decided to lash out at my child in front of their peers and at least one teacher. Someone let their emotions take over, and let them spill out in an unreasonable, unprofessional diatribe that devolved into criticism unrelated to the trigger. This person saw that my child was upset, that my child was *crying*, and kept going. Not only kept going, but told two other adults there, “Oh, I made your kid cry” like it was something to be proud of. This person texted me later, “I am so sorry I upset them” but didn’t have the decency to apologize directly to my child, either by text or in person.

Just writing this is bringing the fury back. I have no idea what possesses someone to treat another person, a STUDENT, that way. I have no idea why the other adults present didn’t do anything, didn’t ask her to stop, didn’t intervene to mediate, didn’t at least suggest they go somewhere private.

Let me stop here for a caveat. This is important: this is not a teacher at the school. I don’t believe this person is officially employed by the school. This is a person who is only there very part-time, working with a very small group of students.

Now comes the hard part: how do I respond? I didn’t do anything yesterday; I knew that was a bad idea. My gut tells me to email this person and let her know how angry I am, and that her behavior was appalling and unacceptable. My gut tells me that I need to write a complaint to at least one authority figure, because it’s not right that this person is allowed to interact with students and treat them like this without being held accountable. My gut tells me this is bigger than my child, that I have a responsibility to speak up when something bad happens.

BUT. Doing all of that could create problems for my child. Working with all of these people is unavoidable, and it could make relationships with them awkward, and have repercussions for my child’s success both in and out of school. Speaking up very likely would result in no changes, because this person is respected for their experience and knowledge, and no one wants to rock that boat.

And that alone infuriates me too. Why should this person not be held accountable? Why should this person get away with this behavior? No, my child was not physically harmed. But in my mind, it was bullying. The action that prompted the tantrum in no way warranted a full emotional meltdown in front of other people. It was a minor disagreement that should have been handled privately. Thankfully my child is strong, and has a wonderful support system, and they will be all right. But will the next one? That is one reason silence feels wrong. This is about more than my child. This is also about the next child on the receiving end of a humiliating tirade. If we never speak up because we think nothing will change…well, we’re right. Nothing will ever change. And I’m not sure that’s the world I want to live in.

To be clear, we WILL address the situation with this person. We are just trying to figure out the best way to do it. I want to address it immediately and directly and make it clear exactly how wrong the behavior was; my husband wants to be more strategic and try to guide the relationship to a better place. He wants to address it without pissing off this person, because that likely will not help matters. I can see the benefit of his strategy. But it doesn’t satisfy my mom-fury. I still want to take it further.

So, I don’t know. It’s a really complicated situation, and I can’t tell if I’m blowing it out of proportion because of my mom-fury. I am conflicted. I am sad and angry and frustrated. I am going to sit back for now, and try to come to a resolution that feels right for all of us.