Friday, May 20, 2011

A Day Playing Hookey -- and the Shattering Fall Back to Earth

I love all the topic ideas you guys gave me yesterday for future blog articles.  Lots of good food for thought, some subjects that are already in planning stages for a memoir, and some things that made me laugh -- namely, how I manage to be so balanced.

You've got to be kidding me.

The secret?

It's all done with mirrors.

Because I'm the most frazzled person on this planet most of the time, piling way too much on my plate, saying "yes" to way too many things, never looking at the calendar when I say "of course I can" ... and then panicking and running away when the beads on the table start to topple as they grow higher and higher and the emails start backing up into the hundreds and the PAPERWORK, my heavens the PAPERWORK!

(Gasp... heave... gasp....)

A lot of times, this is where I end up when I get overloaded and need to regroup....

But not today.

Today, instead of working out like I should have been doing, I decided to take a trip to Barnes and Noble in Annapolis, 40 minutes or so away and over a Very Large Bridge to buy a book.  I had a good excuse -- I had a coupon.  Long live books, and long live book coupons.

I started out with the new VW Punch Buggy, complete with flowers in the vase..

... the pink one for me and the orange one for Zack, since he loves orange and loves the car.  The weather was perfect for opening the sun roof....

... wearing this necklace (with beads by Cassie Donlen)...

... and of course, with this hair, which I recently had done so the pink is even further up my head.

I also stopped in to get my favorite travel drink, a venti skim mocha (but whipped cream, please).  These girls are awesome.  They see me walk in the door and they start making my drink.  They see Rick walk through the door and they start making my drink.  They rock, and they rock hard.  They're sweet and hilarious and I love them dearly.


Now these next pictures are of the Bay Bridge, which is five miles long, very very high up over the water, and caused me to balk at first about moving to the Eastern Shore.  These photos were taken with my camera set on sport mode (so the movement of my car and the bridge didn't matter) and I had both hands on the wheel (I put the timer on the camera and set it on the dash next to the GPS).

But still, don't tell my husband.

It sure doesn't look like much, does it?  But it's listed on this web site as one of the scariest bridges in the world.

Anyway!  I cross that bridge with hardly a thought nowadays.  Unless there's wind.  Then I grit my teeth, feel my spine try to crawl out the top of my head, and just get through the next however-many-minutes of fear.

Barnes and Noble is a place of peace for me.  Books -- I love them more than beads, I think.  Ever since I was very small, they carried me away from a life where I didn't fit into a life where I could.  Some have asked if I'm a speed-reader, and I honestly don't know.  I would venture to say I am.  I learned to read when I was three, and quickly jumped well above my age group by Kindergarten.  Interestingly, I could read at an amazingly advanced level, but I couldn't tie my shoes or master scissors. 

I always spend a lot of time in both the children's section and the how-to-be-a-better-mom section.  Today I bought a book by Temple Grandin and flipped through a dozen others. 

Being a mom is the hardest job I've ever had.  There's no instruction manual, even though it seems like there's always a new book for me to look over.  Sometimes I read books on certain things and I get this hollow feeling in my stomach, and sometimes I read a book and I feel a wash of relief when I realize I'm not alone in how I feel or the struggles I have.  It all depends upon the day and what's on the shelf.

Going to the mall makes me twitchy, so instead of heading in that direction, I decided to drive twenty more minutes up the road and surprise Rick at his office.  Rick works on -- well, I have no real idea.  Both of us are prior military, but he retired with 26 years and a Chief Master Sergeant rank, so he has a rather important job of which I no longer have the clearance to Need To Know.  So I can't just walk in and say hi -- I have to call him and ask him to come outside.

Which he did.  He wanted to collect on that hug and kiss!

That was fun.  So back home, an hour of driving to a very eclectic mix of random tunes on a CD I'd burned -- Echo and the Bunnymen (Lips Like Sugar), Dizzy Gillespie (Manteca), Elvis (Rubberneckin', Paul Oakenfold remix), ELO (Mr. Blue Sky), and a bunch of others.  I sing so off key you can hear it over the road noise AND the blaring stereo, but as long as I don't have passengers, I'm good.

And then I got home and crashed on impact entering The Real World.

Most parents, I dare say, dread when school lets out.  I, on the other hand, look forward to it because I dread the end of each school day.  I worry to the point of a stomach ache about how Zack's day went.  Was today a good day, or a bad day?

Today was a bad day.

This goes beyond "honey what did YOU do today?".  This goes deeper, and it all goes back to the issue of needing a manual on how to raise kids, especially kids who are such amazing human beings that rather than throw your hands up in despair, you WANT to reach out and fix this or tweak that or, like Luke Skywalker, save them from a universe full of evil dudes.

It's hard for me to talk about being a mom and triply hard for me to talk about Zack when it comes to anything less than "behold, my wonderful boy, who you all know and love".  Trust me, he IS a wonderful boy who is hilarious and sensitive, deep-thinking and literal.  Yet sometimes I want to come here and cry, "Please help me, because X, Y, and then freaking Z happened and I don't know what to do!".

Then I saw these cars that Zack had set up in his playroom.

I think of Zack as that middle car, that bright shining yellow car in the middle.  

He's surrounded by obstacles and challenges, some that will turn out to be wonderful adventures, and some that will turn out to be not so awesome.  Nothing seems clear to him.  Right now, that triple circle of cars may look completely impossible to break through.  It may look impossible to turn that circle into a line, become, if not a leader, someone who can follow well with the pack, or not get run over as he travels a different road.

Zack is eight.  I'm forty-two.

I took off half the day today to relax.  Zack has days where every moment is spent being the car in the middle.  Sometimes he likes it.  Sometimes, like today, he doesn't.

The best I can do is teach him, over and over again if I have to, the right things to do, the way to react in the face of frustration, and how to handle life. 

It's a tough job.  And there's no Employee Manual.  

But the pay is great.

Lori Anderson creates jewelry for her web site, Lori Anderson Designs, and wrote the blog An Artist's Year Off.  She's also a contributor to Art Bead Scene.  She is also the creator of the Bead Soup Blog Party.


  1. Perfect! All of it. Bookstores, husband hugs, mothering a sweet child, pink hair! Perfect. Loved this post, Lori.

  2. Ha! I know that you and I suffer from the same sort of unbalancedness. That is why I mentioned it, tongue firmly planted in cheek. I think that your little speed racer in the yellow car is a great reason for being. And I like the way he organizes things like that!
    There is no manual and we are all struggling to raise good kids. And sharing your sorrows and pleas for help is not a weaknes... we can only be strong together.

    Enjoy the day!

  3. Lori, your above comments about Zack PROVE that you are a wonderful mother whether you feel it somedays or not. I'm not a mother (yet) but I know that one of the most important things about being a mother is caring. And you do.

    On a different note - since you mentioned Temple Grandin, did you see the HBO film "Temple Grandin" starring Claire Danes? I really enjoyed it.

  4. Great post, Lori! It's all worth it when you get those puppy eyes looking at you like you are the most loved mommy in the world.

  5. hey gorgeous....listen and guide, that's all you can are forty two and you know what, you made it...and Zack will too!

    He has TWO parents who love and adore him and are OBVIOUSLY doing something right...'cos he's eight and knows he's loved and protected....if he has issues, he will come to you...'cos you've made it possible for him to do that!

    And THAT is what parenting is about doesn't stop US internally worrying our socks off! But you KNOW we are here for you to vent any frustration, question, seek advice etc etc etc

    All I can say just now is...KEEP DOING WHAT YOU'RE DOING...IT'S WORKING!!! ;O)

    Have a fab weekend!!


    hello gorgeous xxx

  6. Lori, I'd like to say it gets easier but I'd be lying. When you love your children and want the best for them you want to do everything right so you worry all the time. each age and stage brings with it new challenges. You are both growing and learning but as long as you have love and best interests at heart, you won't go astray and neither will he. Feel free to run here crying over x y and z anytime,that's why we're all here! Hugs

  7. I so relate to the coming home and asking "how was your day?" and dreading to hear the answer...we should talk! I'm glad you had that hookey day, though...I need one :)

  8. Thanks for sharing your day. I felt like I was with you every step of the way. Bookstores are my favorite, along with libraries. I have a coupon for Borders that has to get spent this weekend also. We have a bridge, not as intimidating as yours, but always an issue. And do any of us know what out mate does at work?

    And the stress of raising children, and I still worry about them and they are grown and now worry about my 9 year old granddaughter who has issues at school, but is a smart and wonderful child and definitely beats to a different drummer.

    But this is life and isn't it grand.

  9. The look on Zack's face says it all: you're doing a wonderful job. The yellow car stands out. The others fade into oblivion. And about that bridge... no freakin' way.

  10. Wow! Now this is why I read your blog and follow you. You speak from your heart and soul. I honestly believe being a mom is the hardest job on the planet and it never goes away no matter how old they grow. However, it is also the most rewarding job we will ever have. Our children are our legacy. We learn as we do...

  11. Hi Lori, what an amazing post like i said yesterday from the heart <3 thats what i love about you. I think we all question how we are doing as a mom, it's the ones that don't question it that probably should.There is no manual but as we grow together we learn together with them and i think from what i see you are all doing just fine my dear. take care ttfn L:)

  12. I was the kid who came home from school in tears. My momma love(d/s) me too. You are an awe-inspiring mother, so hang in there an do what you do.

    Bookstore -- I love them and so does my sweet hubby. We almost always spend his day off there. We also hit the coffee bar for that special caffienated treat.

    And while we were at the bookstore today, I checked out and purchased the newest Super Bead Work magazine. I got goose-bumps when I saw the Bead Buzz page. Thanks so much for being so awesome.


  13. I loved this post Lori. Very interesting.
    We have a lot in common...{though no husband or Gorgeous boy here..}
    Thanks for sharing!
    Love the pink/red in your hair...I noticed it in your profile pic!
    Have a wonderful weekend.
    And you too Zach.

  14. That necklace is totally darling, And any time you want to come sit in the "moms who need manuals but don't have them" corner with me, you're more than welcome to!!

    I'm totally with you on the voracious reading thing, too! I go through at least 2-3 books a week...even more sometimes now that I have my Kindle app on my phone and iPad.

  15. Anonymous5:05 AM

    What a fantastic post! That was one of the most interesting, best written...coolest post I have ever read! Loved it.. and YOUR pink hair.. Geez that bridge was beautiful and scary too!
    Take care,

  16. Hey sweetie, thanks for sharing your day with us!

    If you came to our home you would see that all of us (except hubby) are book lovers and collectors. We surely have a full library by now, but even so we still had to make the 45 minute trip to B&N yesterday to cash in on the coupons we received. Yay for B&N!!!

    You are a Super Duper Mom! Just look at that smile on Zacks face. Being a mom is never easy, but I wouldn't trade it for any other job in the world.

    Enjoy your weekend!

  17. Beautiful post, Lori! Felt like I took the trip with you. LOVE the pink hair & your son is so handsome! Happy Saturday to you!
    Hugs, Diane

  18. I'm not sure what issues your little artist is facing, but if your recent post about his wonderful painting is any clue, I'd say you're doing a pretty darn amazing job helping him through his days of being the car in the middle.
    Feeling the need to kick and scream, shouting for help is only natural, and people in less, shall I say challenging situations do it all the time. It can be SO liberating to just blurt it all out, letting down the armour and be oneself, weak, shaken and utterly defeated. Nobody is going to offer help, advice or even a shoulder to cry on to an unshakeable fortress, but even though I am not a great philanthropist, I still believe that there's a heck of a lot of wonderful shoulders out there just waiting to be cried on for a little.
    You inspire and amaze me, Lori, and I'm coming to realize that Zack does, too.

  19. I love that you're so honest, Lori. Seriously, it's amazing to me.

    I'm not a mom, but I can see how hard you work to do right by Zack. It shows!

    Yellow car, pink hair - I think you two were meant to stand out.

  20. Really enjoyed this post Lori. Wanted to be in the car with you, drinking coffee. Then the book store! Ant totally get where you are with the mum (sorry Mom) thing. My daughter is five and every day is an adventyre. Especially when she starts conversations with 'Mummy last night I flew out of my window to Enchantia and King Rat tied me to a tree.'

  21. I'm glad that most of your day was awesome. I'm sorry that it was not a good day for Zack. But that last photo, oh, that last photo is wonderful!

  22. Ahhhh! The bridge!! I never used to mind driving over it - but as I've gotten older, it has begun freaking me out a bit. I cross it only a half dozen times a year, but that will change with my folks moving to DE. I anticipate crossing it monthly. Maybe I'll revert back to the not caring anymore....

    Anyway, I can TOTALLY relate to any anxiety related to that bridge.

    I'm also a big bookstore lover - I don't get to go often enough I'd love to be able to hit the library tomorrow but between church and a baseball game....not gonna happen. Wait - is the library even open on Sundays?

  23. Love your travel log. And that does take your breath away.
    One thing for sure, Zack has the BEST parents. He'll understand that some day.

  24. ~*Lori, this was a great post! You had me smiling, laughing, so very interested. You reached inside of my heart. Thank you for sharing your words, life, history and visuals. Zack looks like he knows where he stands. The great thing is, he has a mom who knows how to rock and roll over a daunting bridge. He too can follow along- and rock and roll over his many bridges too. :o) Rick has an awesome smile! I love your new blog format too! It's great! :o)*~

  25. Oh Lori, My heart goes out to you as you struggle to know you are doing the right thing as a mom. You have the heart of a MOM not to worry: Zack's photo at the end says it all. He know where his safe haven is. Belive me YOU and RICK are the best.LOVE spans ALL bridges. And Prayer.Just be there:
    And all of the above post
    That bridge, we were there in 1968 and stopped right on top as the other lanes were going in the Opposite direction directions. people accually got out to play pitch ball while we waited.We had been to the Delaware shore.
    P.S. Love your new format.
    Be Blessed

  26. Yes the pay is great! It looks like your day was good and I envy the fact that you did it by yourself. I have to call my hubby to come out too! That is fun. I had to put my daughter on meds last week and I know how it is to want to fix it all but resigning yourself to the fact that we can't is still so hard! Hugs and Love my friend (sorry I haven't been around much but you can see why)

  27. Temple Grandin rocks....I have learned so much from her books....great post....and LOVE the new site!!!

  28. I love the changes I see on your website and I do really admire everything you get done! I know you face a lot of challenges, both physically and with your beautiful boys challenges, but you DO get it all done. Even if you feel frazzled and crazy! You do a lot more than I manage to get done and I admire you for that :)

  29. I LOVE this post! And I admire your fearlessness of crossing that bridge! I think I told you one other time that I always make someone else drive when we cross that bridge....meanwhile, I try to keep from hyperventilating until we are on the other side! LOL Today I'm waiting for my son to get home, feeling like I might vomit...he finds out today whether or not he won the SCA election for vice president. It's too much stress for these little guys, and too much for me. Zach is a lucky guy to have you as his mom. :-)


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