Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Mama On: Taking Care of Business

"Take care of your own business."

If you really take the time to pay attention, and follow through on all of the associated actions, this bit of Mamaknowledge makes perfect sense.  Really.  If you pay attention to all of the little details of your life, there is simply no time to mess around in anyone else's business.  And the nice thing about not having time to play around in other folks' lives is that there is no time for gossip, no time for envy, and (praise Jesus!) no time for screwing up someone else's life.

Don't get me wrong, my mother the Mamaknologist did her fair share of "communal observation," but she let it end with the last word of the conversation.  She didn't let it drag on beyond the chit-chat over coffee or in the grocery store aisle.  She didn't pull raggedy coversations over the back fence and then spend her days and weeks tripping over them.  And she didn't let me do it either.

I actually remember her terminating one of my phone conversations when I was in junior high.  Uhm, I hear you thinking, "Oh, no she didn't!"  Well, yes.  She did, and I had better sense than to make an issue of it.  I think I made a face when I thought she wasn't looking, though.

Then, I got a lecture.  Included in the lecture were such topics as:
  • Who died and left me in charge?
  • What happened to make me right and everyone else wrong?
  • What right did I have to sit in judgment on anyone?
  • Don't you have anything better and more profitable to do?
  • Did you finish your homework yet?
And you've got to know that the last one was the one that was really important, right?  Anyway, you know that she actually stood there and made me answer all of those questions, right?  And of course the homework wasn't finished, but the whole incident made me think -- if I'd been doing the homework, I wouldn't have been on the phone and ... well ... caught.

Over time, I've applied this to a whole lot of other scenarios.  I take care of business first and chat later.  I have also noticed that gossip is a whole lot like lying -- if you listen to it, you'll almost always pass it on, and it will only get stronger with each passing.  And in the end, a whole lot of time gets wasted.  And what couldn't you do with a little more time? 

For one thing, you could take care of a little more of your own business.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mama On: Love

"I'll kill a rock over my baby."

**Sigh**  I think that these are almost the sweetest words I ever heard from my mother.  In all of her wisdom, she found a way, to define love and motherhood in just a few completely understandable and indelible words. And isn't that what we trust and expect the Mamaknologists of our lives to do? 

My mother, the World's Premier Mamaknologist, not only had a way with words, she had a way with love.  Whenever she promised to kill rocks over me, I believed her.  I kid you not, I even believed her into and far beyond my, "you gotta prove it to me," teens.  And whenever challenged, she cloaked herself in love and showed up and showed out in that boldly amazing way that only women of color can do.

Never above or beyond taking a stand in her Mamaknowledge, my mother was there to climb the cherry tree I got stuck in when I was five.  She was there, almost before it happened, on the day I ran into a giant tree and broke my wrist, blacked my eye, busted my lip, and sustained a concussion.  She was right there the first time some big-headed boy broke my fragile little heart, and she was there when I declared my independence and left my childhood home to explore the world.

Born to love, I watched my mother lead our entire family into the foster care system.  I watched her take on three unwanted infants and love them into secure childhood.  One of the best examples of this love was a little boy who came into our home at two-months of age.  Born to a heroin and alcohol addicted mother and abandoned at the hospital, he was skinny and cried constantly.  His health was so tenuous that the hospital no longer wished to care for him, but my mother never gave it a second thought.  "I'll take him," she said.  The social worker worried that the child would have severe mental issues.  "He just needs love, and he's going to get it," my mother promised.  Then she did everything she could to be sure he did.

I guess this is a good time to tell you that my mother was 5'8" tall.  And I should remind you that she was determined that this child do more than survive.  She was determined that he would thrive.  So, when he refused to eat, she spent a day in the kitchen singing, cajoling, and urging.  He ate.  When he cried at night, fearing the dark and his crib, my mother climbed into the crib without a second thought and spent long sleepless nights helping a baby to find comfort and security.  He slept.  And never doubt that she spent months and years reciting nursery rhymes, singing songs, reading, and helping with lessons.  Mental issues were never a question -- her Mamaknowledge didn't allow it. 

Of course, you have to pick your battles in this life.  My mother's greatest battle was with her health, and it meant that she and my dad were unable to adopt the child because of their ages and her health, but the love contribution had been made.  That deposit of unstinting love from someone willing to kill a rock was a goo thing.  The funny part was that family friends wondered if I was jealous of the love my mother showered on her foster children.  I have always had only one answer:  No, why would I be?  My mother would kill a rock over me. 

One of those foster children is my daughter today, and I can celebrate the love bequethed me, and I have to tell her that diamonds are forever and so is my love for her.  I think I would kill rocks over her, because my mother taught me that love makes you able, but it goes even deeper.   Because my mother was willing to wield her Mamaknowledge, many of my friends are able to claim Grace by Exposure.  A lot of them are excellent women and superlative mothers, and I am flattered and proud when they salute my mother as a role model.  That's a good thing.

The Mamaknowledge lives on, and all because my mother was willing to take on the world and kill rocks over her baby. 

Happy Mother's Day.