Rest in Perfection, Dr. Maya Angelou

Life As Mom, Parental Intel Wednesday, May 28, 2014

I’m in Los Angeles this week. Traveling solo — my family, routines, knowable comforts, regular life all left at home —  it can be a little disorienting, especially those first few days and perhaps more specifically, during the first couple of mornings.

But nothing this week has left me feeling more disoriented than waking up today to the sad news of Dr. Maya Angelou‘s passing. Although I knew it wasn’t possible, I kind of expected this wise, extraordinary powerhouse of a woman to live forever.

Maya Angelou | Ms. Mary Mack

Photo from theGrio.com

Like so many of you, I’ve read her books repeatedly, devoured her poems in one gulp and went back again for more — more insight, more meaning, more magic — of her words. I’ve quoted her. I’ve thought deeply about the many pieces of exquisite and explicit advice she’s shared on life and love and the courage to be about both of those things. This phenomenal woman will be truly missed by all of us, but her words — those we are so fortunate to keep forever.

When Dr. Angelou was interviewed on Oprah’s Master Class at the start of 2011, she handed out chunks of gold. I watched this segment, “Love Liberates,” again this morning and held my heart. Dr. Angelou talks about her own mother and the urgent lessons she inherited from the enlightened woman.

For example,  when Maya Angelou had her son at 17, she went to her mother and said she and the child were moving out. Her mother told her:

“All right, remember this: When you step over my door sill you’ve been raised. You know the difference between right and wrong; do right. Don’t let anybody raise and make you change. And remember, you can always come home.”

Spend the 5:30 minutes and watch this clip, friends. You will walk away warmed and encouraged.

Love liberates, it doesn’t bind.

Rest in peace, Dr. Maya Angelou.

{vlog} Found a babysitter? Great, Now Pay Up!

Parental Intel Friday, May 16, 2014

We parents who are not fortunate to have built-in babysitters (‘sup, grandparents!) tend to do a little victory dance once we’ve land a great sitter. Sometimes in our giddiness we gloss over the costs of this most valuable service. A new survey checked into this to find “the most expensive place to hire a babysitter.” Can you guess where that city is?

*This vlog was shot using my new Samsung NX mini camera. Disclosure: I am a Samsung USA #Imagelogger, which means I’m an unpaid spokesperson and Samsung gave me the camera to participate in the program. 

Leave your comment below or head over to MMM’s FB page, “Like” us, then leave you two cents over there!

You Say Goodbye, and I Say, “This is all happening too soon!”

Life As Mom, Parental Intel Wednesday, May 7, 2014

This morning, I happened upon some workers setting up those familiar fold-up chairs and white tents at a local university. Graduation season begins. Watching the scene, it made me say that thing I always say: Time is flying. Obviously I’m not preparing for college graduation, but The Youngster will be stepping into a whole new world this fall all the same.

Graduation season | Ms. Mary Mack

I really cannot believe that I am the mother of a five-year-old. One who cracks me up every single day, and who has totally mastered zipping up his hoodie on his own, and who freely gives me kisses and hugs and flowers, and who makes me marvel at everyday things like the moon in the morning, and who likes to tell me that I am the best Mama ever. A five-year-old baby boy who stretches my heart to its very seams, making my life sweeter than brown sugar.

And thinking about him climbing onto that big yellow bus for the first time and heading off to kindergarten … man.

His new school gave all the incoming kindergarten students packets of sunflower seeds at registration last month. It’s such a cute gesture. The Youngster and I planted ours this week, and already he’s been asking that we check on them every day. “Nothing yet, Mom!”

Sunflower seeds | Ms. Mary Mack

 

Planting sunflower seeds | Ms. Mary Mack

Honestly, I don’t know if I’ll cry or smile until my face hurts on that first day, but I do know that I’ll be filled with deep pride and joy and a little bit of sadness mixed in there too.

Rob Lowe’s wonderful essay on Slate about sending his oldest son off to college covers this bittersweet “farewell, young one” moment so well.  I posted it on MMM’s FB page, and one mom friend sent a note saying I should have added a “tear-jerker warning” to the thing. Here, an except from the lovely piece:

“We lock eyes for the tiniest beat. I want to see what, if anything, he will say. His new ‘bros’ are already striding to the club and he doesn’t want to be left behind. This is the college good-bye I’ve heard so much about and dreaded so deeply.

I close in to hug him, but he puts just one arm around me, a half hug. “Peace,” he says, a phrase I’d never heard him use until he said the same thing to his little brother in the driveway. Then he turns on his heel and strides away. From his body lan­guage I know he won’t turn to look back; I know why and I’m glad. I watch him until I can’t see him anymore, until he’s swallowed up by his new friends and his new life.”

I know, right?. Awww.

Are any of you planting your little sunflower seeds in new ground this fall? How are you preparing for it? Are you already feeling excitement, anxiety or all of it? Do tell. Leave a comment below. Always like to hear your two cents.

Bring Back Our Girls. Bring Them Back Alive.

Life As Mom, Parental Intel Tuesday, May 6, 2014

When I first caught part of the news report, I thought I misheard something. I was listening (barely) to the radio in the kitchen over the din of our morning get-readiness.

Over 200 girls abducted from their school in Nigeria almost two weeks ago.

It couldn’t be right, couldn’t be a current story. Nothing about the slip of news I had picked up sounded real, and I tried to pushpin it to the back of my mind. Bookmark it for later.

But I couldn’t shirk it. I needed to check it out, to follow up on what I’m sure I heard wrong. Was it maybe two girls, instead of 200 hundred-plus? It had to be that, had to be two.

BringBackOurGirls_Names_ShaunKing | Ms. Mary Mack

Credit: @ShaunKing on Twitter

I scrolled through my usual online news feeds. Nothing but Donald Sterling’s racist remarks kept coming up. So I clicked over to the UK papers. The Guardian’s headline confirmed the horrible: it really was a mass abduction. Over 200 girls (234, as first reported), kidnapped by Islamist insurgents — rounded up  at gunpoint and snatched away from their school. The girls had just sat their final school exams, the news story said. And they were taken because they dared to be there, in school, young women getting an education.

This can’t just happen, I kept saying. But it did, and no one in North America seemed to know or want to know anything about this horrible crime.

The more I read about the story in the British media, the more I asked: Where’s the American outcry? Where are the links and columns and reporting and CNN’s Breaking News chyron, and the rants and rally cries? How can this large group of girls just vanish? As this story in the Guardian asked: 200 girls are missing in Nigeria — so why doesn’t anybody care?

From Sanford, Florida, to Chibok, Nigeria, is black life really worth nothing?

Imagining the terror those young, frightened girls  going through broke me. Watching the mothers and fathers of these gone girls — 276 still missing — bawling, pleading to the grim skies for the return of their daughters, my heart was sick. And seeing reports that the girls who did not escape were to be sold as slaves (and married off) for what amounts to 12 American dollars, I felt weak, utterly powerless.

Yes, the #BringBackOurGirls hashtag started to build late last week and is trending; there’s a movement and its beating drum is getting good and loud. The global community is sitting up and saying in strong and clear voices that girls cannot just disappear. These girls — each with a full name and story — matter. They are worth more than $12, and they need to be returned to home, alive.

The world is awake on this now, the media is watching, and we’re on the same page: This mass abduction is an atrocity, and we will not stand for it.

But in addition to the online activism, news commentary and all of the (necessary) petitions and protests, what else? That one question keeps churning for me: What more can we do to ensure each girl is brought home swiftly and safely?

And I’m not alone. Other people cannot sit still with this question; they crave action.

Today, May 6, marks three weeks that nearly 300 girls were abducted from Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, Nigeria, while they slept in their dorms. Amy Poehler’s excellent online network and community movement Smart Girls at the Party will join Girl Rising, a global campaign for girls’ education, to co-host a Google Hangout and call to action today at 12 noon ET/9 a.m. PT.

The open forum will have a panel of experts, organizers and global citizens talking about what’s happening now with this story and what we can do to help. RSVP to join the conversation here –> #BringBackOurGirls: A Call to Action. You may also post questions for the group on Twitter at AmyPoehlerSmartGirls.

And Girls Rising offers this Nigeria Action Pack with three things we can all do to get our daughters back home.

bring-back-our-girls

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