Since today is Mother's Day, I wanted to write a little bit about the wholely unique creature, the Southern Mother. Mothers everywhere are grand, but mothers in the South are a breed all of their own. First of all, they are not usually mothers, they are mamas or mommas. These mamas make mothering an art form, and these women are not just mothers to their own children, but to all the children that cross their paths. They feel it their duty to instill in every child that they come in contact with the basic rules for life in the South.
From the first time you ever meet a mama in the South, she will spout to you the "rules."
Rule 1: ALWAYS say please and thank you and yes, sir or no, m'am!
Rule 2: Respect your elders, crazy or not.
Rule 3: No back talking. Ever.
Rule 4: Church is mandatory. Sunday is God's day and if you expect to be allowed to participate in THE event of the week, Sunday dinner, you WILL get your lazy behind out of the bed and go to church!
Rule 5: Social graces are not a choice. They are a requirement.
Rule 6: You will NOT wear white after Labor Day or before Easter. I don't care what the fashion world says.
Rule 7: You WILL do chores. Chores make you a better person. You will NOT be paid for said chores. Chores are your duty for the free food, clothing, and shelter you are provided.
Rule 8: You WILL sit at the table for meals. You WILL eat what is on the table. This is not a restaurant and orders will not be taken.
Rule 9: You WILL NOT act like you were raised in a barn or you WILL find yourself sleeping there.
Rule 10: You WILL spend part of every day OUTSIDE. Fresh air is good for you.
Those are the basic beginner's guide rules that all Southern mamas have, but there are many more pearls of wisdom that are taught to one's own offspring and there are more rules for Southern girls than boys. Sorry. Life isn't fair. Fair is a weather condition.
Mama always said that as a Southern woman, you had to learn to wear many hats and that you had to be on top of your game because people would naturally assume that you were a little less intelligent simply because you spoke slow.
All Southern women must know the art of conversation. You should be able to walk into any situation and carry on an interesting conversation.
All Southern women should be good hostesses. To be a good hostess, you should be able to whip out a small spread of food and a good glass of iced tea at any time for drop in guests. It is a good idea to keep cheese and fruit on hand, a bowl of pimento cheese, homemade crackers, and small appetizers that you made and froze in order to whip them out and bake quickly. Any self respecting Southern woman ALWAYS has iced tea in the refrigerator.
All Southern women garden. Period. You should own at least one floppy garden hat to wear in the garden and protect your face from the wrinkles caused by the sun. You also need a good pair of garden gloves to protect your nails from embedded dirt.
All Southern women own a string of pearls. Pearls go with everything.
When you get out of bed, the first thing you should do is say Good Morning. Learning to greet those around you pleasantly starts your day off right.
You should always wear a smile. It doesn't matter if your husband just ran over the dog on his way to the airport to run off with his mistress, you had better have a smile in place.
Be prepared to act like a lady, dress like a lady, and work like a dog. Life in the South was hard. It still can be. If you can't work hard, you aren't worth much.
There is NEVER an excuse for not using your manners. NEVER. If you can't say something nice, just say the ever useful, "Bless your/their/her/his heart." It covers it all.
Southern women don't sweat. We glisten.
Southern mothers love double names. Billy Bob, Grace Ann, Mary Jo, and on and on.
Southern mothers call everybody sugar. Don't be offended, be delighted that you were included.
If a Southern mother calls you by all of your names, Susan Alayne Hubbs, RUN!! You are in deep, deep, deep trouble.
Southern mothers think food fixes everything. If someone dies, take at least three dishes: casserole or meat, side dish, dessert, to the grieving families home because they won't feel like cooking for the crowd that will descend upon them. If someone gets married, take a dish to the newlyweds because they won't have time to cook. If someone has a new baby, take food because the new parents will be too sleep deprived to cook. As a matter of fact, when I was small and in church, I thought that when they said "the garden of Eden" they were saying "the garden of Eatin'!" That is how much food is a part of life in the South and Southern mothers are the cookingest women I have ever known!
Southern mothers will sympathize with you for five minutes before telling you to "grow a backbone" or "rub a little dirt in it and go on." They know life is tough and teach their children to be tougher while smiling through it all.
Southern women believe that raising children is an art form. You will be raised by all the women around you if you live in the South. These are just a few of the things that you learn from a sweet, beautiful Southern mama. I am lucky to still have my mama around and still go to her for advice daily. All mothers are beautiful creatures, but Southern mothers, well they are a breed apart.
Happy Mother's Day!!