My Mother: A Love Story

red hat, mother, Phyllis ByersMamacita says:  My mother is 83 years old. I call her every day, and invite her to dinner at least twice a week; she takes the leftovers home and has them for lunch the next day. I always call her before I go to the grocery store, but usually she’s already been.  She’s always on the lookout for a sale on Ghiardelli chocolates; a drawer of her hutch is reserved just for them.

I love my mother with the fierce passion reserved for a daughter and mother; no other relationship equals or rivals it. It’s unique. My mother is not perfect, but I don’t know any perfect people; do you? Mom has a better social life than anyone else I know. Almost every day is full. She volunteers. She works at the local museum. She’s good with money, so she’s the treasurer of several clubs she belongs to. She plays euchre once a week with the same ladies she graduated from high school with; they’ve met regularly for Club since 1949. Sometimes I sub for someone, and these ladies are a riot. Most of them are the mothers of people I know, and if I ever do get around to writing that book, these ladies will definitely take over a chapter. Who woulda thought people’s moms would talk and carry on like that? I mean, these are the moms of people I know! Moms don’t do that. Not that generation of moms. And yet, they do. There used to be four tables of euchre players, but their numbers are diminishing much too rapidly and now there are only two, and sometimes one.

Phyllis Byers, mom, mother

Mom also hangs out with friends several nights a week; they play board games, go to restaurants, wear red hats and purple cardigans and huge funky red and purple earrings, and have a wonderful time. She tells me about her adventures when I call her, or go over there.

Why do I call her every day? Because I love her, and because she’s 83 years old, and because the day will come when I would cut off my right arm just to hear her voice, and I am not waiting until it’s too late to want to hear her voice. I love hearing her voice.

Phyllis Byers, mom, shotgun

My mother is hilarious. She’s addicted to Big Bang Theory and Murder She Wrote. She owns all the DVD’s and can watch them any time and does, but she still watches both series on TV as well. She does not like Big Bang’s Leonard, though. Hates that guy. He’s too meek and she doesn’t like his wussy mannerisms. Unquote.

If the church doors are unlocked, Mom is in the building, either volunteering or sitting in her favorite pew with friends. She worries about my long drives to school. She misses her other kids who don’t live nearby. She has never forgotten my birthday; after all, she was there, as she likes to remind me.

Phyllis Byers, Jane Goodwin, Teresa Chestnut

Almost every time I go over to her house, she gives me a sentimental keepsake. “The other kids will be jealous,” I tell her. “Then they need to visit more often; they’d get stuff, too,” she’ll say.

When we were all growing up, our house was always cluttered; it was a tiny house, stuffed full of six people and all their stuff.  Three sisters shared one very small bedroom that contained a set of bunk beds and a mattress that was pushed back under the bottom bunk in the morning.  We called it our trundle bed – just like Laura and Mary had! – but it was just a mattress and it was just a tiny room and we were all just rationalizing.  But it was okay.  We didn’t know any better.

Now Mom’s house is tidy and beautiful.  I like going over there; all the things she had when we were growing up are still there, mingling with the “new” stuff she bought after Dad died and she moved into this house.

Phyllis Byers, Scheiss Weekly, mother

Mom has always been beautiful and she still is. Her children are still the most important things in her life, but her grandchildren and two lovely little great-granddaughters are up there pretty high, too.

I know I am really lucky to live so near my mother.  I don’t know what I would have done without her when my kids were little.  Mothering did not come naturally to me; I had to learn it from books and from sad experience.  (My apologies for so many things, Sara and Andy!)  Mom would come over and show me how.  Sometimes she laughed, but so did I.  I was in the slow class when it came to taking care of babies, but I caught on after a while.  I was never as nurturing as my sister Teresa – she was a natural – but I did okay.  My kids are still alive, and they seem really happy and contented with their lives, so I must not have done too bad a job.  I love it that my kids are so nerdy, although I don’t think my siblings quite understand.  That’s okay;  none of the four of us is even remotely alike and I don’t think any of us understood any of the others.  I love them all anyway.

Phyllis Byers, Scheiss Weekly, mom

It would be wonderful if my children thought as highly of me as I do of my mother, but sometimes I think they think more highly of her than they do of me.  I can’t blame them for that.  I think so highly of my mother that I really don’t think my respect could go any higher.

It’s easy to take a parent for granted, whether we live nearby or far away, but I think it’s really important for those of us fortunate enough to still have a living parent to stay in contact, to call, to visit, as much as possible.

There will be plenty of time to stay home soon enough.


Liking Honey Boo Boo: Still More Things I Haven’t Done Yet

a round tuit, scheiss weekly Mamacita says: Liking Honey Boo Boo is the least of it. There are so many things I haven’t done yet, I wonder sometimes how I know how to do anything at all.

1.  I do not like Honey Boo Boo or anything connected with her.  Her mother is repulsive and her sisters are disgusting.  The sort of ignorance and behaviors they endorse on a regular basis are why we never hear anything from beings from other planets.  If an alien civilization was smart enough to find us, they’re certainly too smart to want much to do with us if they suspect there might be more people like THOSE people.  I know most people who watch this show watch it for the freak factor, but I can’t get past the fact that these people are real and honestly behave like that.

Honey Boo Boo family, repulsive

2.  I have never been able to like sushi.  Oh, I’ve tried – several times.  It just reminded me too much of the muscle biopsy sample a surgeon took from my upper arm a few years ago. Same color and everything.  I intend to try again some day, though.  I have nothing against sushi except its kind of creepy resemblance to the cross-section of the human body I used to pore over in my parents’ big encyclopedia.

3.  I still see no positive value in TV shows that glorify lack of judgment, lack of morals, lack of shame, lack of taste, and lack of self control.  I’m talking about you, Teen Mom.  And you, anything-with-a-Bridezilla.

4.  People whose feelings must be tip-toed around are beyond my comprehension.  I don’t get it.  The world revolves exclusively around none of us, and people with no sense of humor aren’t just making things hard on themselves.  That sense of exclusive self diminishes us all.

I am the center of the universe; it's all about me

No, it’s not.

5. I have not forgiven certain people.  I’ve tried for ten years and I don’t know how.  They know who they are so there’s no need to mention names.  If you don’t know, it’s not you.

6.  I want everyone who visits my home to leave happier than they were when they arrived, but it’s not always so.  If I just knew what set certain people off, I’d try to make sure whatever that is didn’t happen, but it’s different every time.  I haven’t given up trying to figure it out, but sometimes I have to look up at the night sky and remember that I’m not the center of the universe, either.  Then again, if people don’t want to know what I think, why do they keep asking me?  I tried saying “no comment” once and it was even worse.

angry woman

7.  I haven’t learned to juggle, and I really want to.

8.  I haven’t reconciled myself to the sad fact that I will never be an astronaut.  I really, really wanted to go to space – even more than Howard Wolowitz wanted to.

Howard Wolowitz in space, gif

9.  I have friends who smoke, but I can’t deal with the odor and the aftersmoke.  I hate asking people not to smoke in my home or around me, but I do.  I have to.  I don’t want to die because someone else has a terrible addiction.  Once in a while I try not to say anything but I always pay dearly for that afterwards.  Plus, my heart breaks when I think about what someone I think a lot of is doing to her/himself.  And to their children and friends.  And to me.

passive smoking, second hand smoke

10.  I will lie down in the road for you, but I have a terrible time defending myself.  I would like to have the balls to lie down in the road for my own sake, as well as yours.

Why, what did you THINK I meant?

Why, what did you THINK I meant?

Martin Luther King, Jr.: The Peaceful Warrior

Dr. Martin Luther KingDarkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. — Martin Luther King, Jr.

Mamacita says:  Why is this day a holiday in most communities? (This community has only just recently started acknowledging MLK Day as a holiday; for years, none of our schools closed.) (They still don’t close for Veteran’s Day.)  (The colleges, businesses, and guv’ment offices are closed – the public schools here are open.)

However, intelligent, sensitive, educated people understand that today deserves respect because a man who dedicated his entire life to peaceful means of acquiring freedom for all people fully deserves to be recognized, and there are still, shamefully, communities that do not consider this of any importance. Making it a holiday forces people to look at his name on their calendar, if nothing else.

If he had advocated violence, it would have been different. Violence does not deserve recognition. If he had advocated “something for nothing,” it would have been different. Bums do not deserve recognition.

But Dr. Martin Luther King advocated equal rights for all people, not just for whites and not just for blacks and not just for whites & blacks. He dedicated his life to gaining equal rights for EVERYONE.

And I can’t help but listen to a speaker with such beautiful grammar. His grammar enhances his message.

May we all have this same dream.

Careful, grammatically-correct language and an almost poetic speaking style will always get my attention.  It’s an assumption on my part, of course, but I associate good grammar with people who actually know what they’re talking about.  In fact, I am convinced that this is so.

Martin Luther King, Jr. definitely knew what he was talking about, and he knew HOW to present it.

====Martin Luther King, Jr., hate, let no man

I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear. — Martin Luther King, Jr.

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. — Martin Luther King, Jr.

Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity. — Martin Luther King, Jr.

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. — Martin Luther King, Jr.

We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies. — Martin Luther King, Jr.

The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education. — Martin Luther King, Jr.

A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom. — Martin Luther King, Jr.

He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it. — Martin Luther King, Jr.

History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people. — Martin Luther King, Jr.

Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think. — Martin Luther King, Jr.

Our Older Students Are Wired For The Night

Mamacita says:  Guess what; not every student is ‘more alert’ in the mornings; our older students are wired for the night. Believe it or not, many students are nearly comatose early in the morning and their brains spring into action later in the day. This is not always a result of staying up late playing video games, etc. Some people really are just wired for night. I’ve often wondered how different standardized test scores would be, if our students were allowed to take them at night instead of so early in the morning. Dawn. You know, when a lot of old people administrators are awake – is not beloved by everybody.

Late start times benefit teens

I’ve read in several places that while younger children are still usually early risers, the average high school student would greatly benefit from school that ran from noon till six.

That would have been so wonderful for a kid like me. Even better, for a kid like me, would have been high school from 3 till 9. P.M. I would have been wide awake and alert and ready to learn.

Sadly, such scheduling would not be possible for a variety of reasons, most of them stupid, such as some elderly principal saying “We’ve never done anything like that before.” Or some old coach saying, “When would we practice?” Like I care about that. (You can play games in the morning. From 7:30 till noon. You know, when you’re more alert.)

teens need more sleep

The most insidious reason of all, the reason many schools can’t have after-school programs, the reason many schools can’t have field trips during the day, the reason many schools can’t have after-school detention, and the reason many kids can’t stay after school for ANY reason, good or bad:

It’s because of the bus schedules. They are carved in stone.  school bus

I am not putting down bus drivers in any way. Many of them are working two jobs, and can only drive a bus during certain hours of the day. I am, however, totally putting down the mentality that can’t seem to separate convenience of scheduling from welfare of student population. Hire more drivers. Split up the routes. We all have to make adjustments in our jobs when circumstances force us to, heaven knows I did. When are we going to make adjustments in our school day?  For whose benefit should a secondary school day be planned?  Who is most important?  I vote for the students, but most administrations vote for the adults.

teens need more sleep

Another issue, of course, is the sad fact that many families rely on older kids to take care of the younger ones after school. Sigh. A different schedule would knock that into a cocked hat.

Employers would have to make a few changes, too. But what’s the difference, really, between a fast-food shift of 5-9 and 6:30-10? Some adult would get an extra hour and a half’s pay?

And, of course, many administrators are getting up there, age-wise. And old people keep early hours. Again, so what?

Teachers with young children? That’s a hard one, because I used to be one of those. But I adjusted for various schedules and so can anyone else. In this town, anyway, there are lots of daycare and sitters who are happy to work later in the evening. Not everyone shuts down at three!!!!!

But again. Adjustments for the sake of our kids. Why are they so hard to make?

Honestly. Sometimes I agree with Plutarch.

Plutarch's ass“Being about to pitch his camp in a likely place, and hearing there was no hay to be had for the cattle, ‘What a life,’ said he, ‘is ours, since we must live according to the convenience of asses!’ ”

What brought all of this up?  Every semester, my students talk about how wonderful it would have been, to go to high school and be alert. It’s not that they didn’t try to be alert. It’s just that for some people, 7:30 in the morning is NO time to be talking about algebra.

I am one of those people.

My name is Mamacita, and I am a night owl.

There are many like me, and we have no rights.

Call the ACLU immediately.

(I have a hard enough time talking about grammar at nine thirty. But my night classes? My 2:00 classes? I’m on top of those, and I even remember what we’ve done in them.)

Equal rights for vampires! Support the ERV!

And how about some plain common sense (or UNcommon sense, as it apparently should be called these days) when it comes to making out schedules for our older students?  A novel approach would be to take into serious consideration the biological makeup for the teen brain and body.

The preferences of adults should have nothing to do with it.  If educators really want what’s best for the students, how about we put our money where the facts are, not some elderly administrator’s personal preference.  Or a sports schedule.

Schedules can be modified.

And an extra half hour or so on the schedule of a bus driver or cook would be more than amply justified (morally and ethically, and I know neither of those words mean a whole lot to people who define education by money) by the benefits to the most important aspect of any and every school: the students themselves.



The Post Where I Talk About the Flu

No, no, not the one where I am cured of the flu; the one where I get the flu!

No, no, not the one where I am cured of the flu; the one where I get the flu!

Mamacita says: I am not a Twilight fan by any stretch of anyone’s imagination; they’re too poorly written and my sensibilities can’t deal with that, but the way Edward is cured of the flu by Carlisle did catch my fancy for about five seconds.

Or maybe it was the thought that perhaps on the same day Edward was cured of the flu, Lavinia died of the flu.

Lavinia dies of flu, Downton Abbey

Whatever – both cases of the flu brought a lot of money into somebody else’s hands. Or a lot more time, which is sometimes the same thing. Time is money. Whatever.

The important thing right now is that I have the flu. Not just a bad cold – the flu. The Bite-Me-Carlisle, Nice-of-you-to-leave-me-your-money-Lavinia flu.

It’s not as dramatic as I was led to believe. It’s just tedious and awful and no fun at all. Although I will admit that once I started getting some Tamiflu into my system, and that super powerful prescription cough syrup started daring the sore throat germs to step over this line, c’mon, ya sissy, things started looking up.

I slept like one drugged into coma, which may be a more accurate description than you realize.  That part was lovely, except for all the phone rings.  If you called me and a drowsy, drugged-up she-beast answered and was rude to you, you shouldn’t have called here while I was sick my apologies.

It’s been over a week now since The Diagnosis, and I’m still groggy and tired and coughing.  The worst is over, though.  I hope.

As for the phone rings, I don’t mind if YOU call, but all these solicitations are getting old fast.  Doesn’t the “no call” list work any more?  And if I cold-called a stranger and that stranger actually growled at me and that growl sounded like a really angry werewolf, not angry werewolf howling at the moonjust a throat-clearing, I’d apologize and hang up fast.  No looking back.  And especially no calling back.  Rude?  Hey, you’re the one who called me.

I’ve been very lucky for many years, germ-wise.  Virus-wise.  Whatever.  This was just not my lucky season.

On the bright side, today I’ve been up since none-of-your-business-o-clock and I haven’t fallen asleep in my chair even once.

This time next week, I plan to be completely well and ready to get back to school.  And if anything disrupts those plans, you might want to hold the phone away from your ears or you’ll hear a really scary growl. . . .

In the meantime, call me any time.  My voice is mostly back and my temper is moderate and I’m lonesome and oh holy scheiss, Minute Maid Soft Frozen Lemonade is so good when one is sick.  And when one is well.  Too bad it’s so hard to find.

Quotation Saturday: New Beginnings and Fresh Starts

quotation saturday, mamacita's blog, jane goodwinMamacita says:  It’s the first Saturday of the new year – it’s time for some fresh starts. Let’s all try to give ourselves, and each other, a break, shall we, and start fresh with things that need a fresh start.

It’s never too late to begin again.  Let’s make the New Year a time for new beginnings.

1. If you have made mistakes, there is always another chance for you. You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing we call ‘failure’ is not the falling down, but the staying down. — Mary Pickford

2. When faced with a challenge, look for a way, not a way out. –David Weatherford

3. Courage is about doing what you’re afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you’re scared. –Eddie Rickenbacker

4. One’s dignity may be assaulted, vandalized and cruelly mocked, but cannot be taken away unless it is surrendered. –Michael J. Fox

5. Above all, challenge yourself. You may well surprise yourself at what strengths you have, what you can accomplish. –Cecile Springer

6. It takes chances to make changes. –Danielle Ballentine   beginning

7. Excellence is the result of habitual integrity. –Lenny Bennett

8. Whenever you feel that something as simple as a smile or a kind act will go unnoticed, do it anyway. You never know how much it might change someone else’s life. –Erin Bishop

9. Square your shoulders to the world, be not the kind to quit; It’s not the load that weighs you down but the way you carry it. –Unknown

10. Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first. –Mark Twain

11. The biggest mistake you can make is continually fearing you will make one. –Unknown

12. If I were asked to give what I consider the most useful bit of advice for all humanity it would be this: Expect trouble as an inevitable part of life and when it comes, hold your head high, look it squarely in the eye and say, ‘I will be bigger than you. You cannot defeat me.’ –Ann Landers

13. A true hero does what needs to be done and needs no other reason. –Unknown

14. We have all been placed on this earth to discover our own path, and we will never be happy if we live someone else’s idea of life. –James Van Praagh

15. The impossible is often untried. –Unknown

16. People whine, ‘I haven’t succeeded because I haven’t had the breaks.’ You create your own breaks. –Chuck Norris

17. Risk more than others think is safe. Care more than others think is wise. Dream more than others think is practical. Expect more than others think is possible. –Cadet maxim, West Point, New York

18. I have always tried to be true to myself, to pick those battles I felt were important. My ultimate responsibility is to myself. I could never be anything else. –Arthur Ashe

19. Make yourself a blessing to someone. Your kind smile or pat on the back just might pull someone back from the edge. –Carmelia Elliot

20. A successful life doesn’t require that we’ve done the best, but that we’ve done our best. –H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

21. Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.
–Henry David Thoreau

22. Live your life so that if someone says ‘Be yourself’ it’s good advice. –Robert Orben

end-and-beginning23. Good manners will open doors that the best education cannot. –Clarence Thomas

24. Go the extra mile. It’s never crowded. — Anonymous

25. . . . isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet? — L.M. Montgomery

26. The beginning is always today. –Mary Shelley

27. Be willing to be a beginner every single morning. — Meister Eckhart

28. The human spirit is stronger than anything that can happen to it. — C.C. Scott

29. The world is round and the place which may seem like the end may also be only the beginning. — Ivy Baker

30. Remember tonight.. for it is the beginning of always. — Unknown

Remember this: you can always begin again.  You can always begin again.  It’s only the end if you choose not to begin again.

Your call.