Saturday, June 14, 2008

Mama On: Taking Responsibility

"If your mouth gets you into something, you'd better let your mouth get you out of it."

As I grew into the Mamaknology of my life, my mother called watching what you say and acting on the words that pass your lips respect, and after years of maternal monitoring, she finally left its application up to me. As direct result, I have had my share of saying the wrong things in the wrong places come back to bite me on the butt -- hard.

So, as a Mamaknologist, I have learned that by definition, respect is: esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability, or something considered as a manifestation of a personal quality or ability. And though I wish my mother had said it first, Ralph Waldo Emerson said: The value of a principle is the number of things it will explain. Respect and the ability to take responsibility for your actions fully qualify as principles of Mamaknology.

In this life, respect has to be earned and its cost is often dear, so if you allow your mouth to cheat you out of it, be prepared to do the work it takes to recoup the lost ground. There are no designer clothes that will dress up the snappy attitude that costs you respect. And goodness knows that even the cutest shoes will not outwalk "hateration".

And, just know, if you put the ugliness out there, it will come back -- usually because you didn't respect yourself enough not to realize that you (as a Mamaknologist) are simply better than that. The Mamaknologist wisdom here: think before you speak. Not only does God not like ugly, the rest of the world is not very fond of it ether, so watch your mouth!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Mama On: The Care and Handling Of Bitches

"I didn't raise them. I raised you."

Bitches. Yeah, I used that word. Face it, they are a fact of life. You work with them, meet them in the mall, pass them on the highway, and generally just have to live around them -- fact and hazard of life in the 21st century.

If you were raised by a woman like my mother and as heavily indoctrinated in Mamaknology as I was, there is no way you could ever forget the Mamaknologist definition of a bitch: a malicious, unpleasant, selfish woman. There is also no way you could ever forget her take on living and working with the mean girls who grew up to be mean women.

My mother, the consumate Mamaknologist, believed that because we don't live in this world alone (and it's illegal to exterminate them), we are all going to encounter a bitch at some point. She also believed that no Mamaknologist worth her title had to surrender power, faith, intellect, or femininity to a bitch. Her ability to deal with these fatally self-imbued women bordered on legendary. Her tools for the task were simple: a stronger than average vocabulary, the courage of her convictions, and a straight backed determination to be herself -- you can do that when you know who you are.

I'm sure that it didn't hurt that she was tall and pretty (pretty, after all is as pretty does, to paraphrase Forest Gump). But, she had a point, and under her tutelage you learned to stand up for yourself without tearing others down -- leaving them with respect for you and your ideas. You learned the Mamaknology principle of grace under fire and applied it with a generous dollop of intellectual "smack" (as some of us enjoy calling attitude with street cred).
Best of all, you learn to celebrate yourself. Take a look in the mirror: we all have something (maybe only one thing) that we KNOW is exceptional. And it's cause for celebration. And finally, you hold your head up and walk like you know where you're going because you have a right to.

So take that, bitches.