Column, Southern Thing Column

Things my Southern mama taught me

The excerpt below is from a column about mom-shaming that appeared on It’s a Southern Thing last week. Click here to read the full column now, or click the link at the end of the excerpt.

When I picture my mother, she is smiling. Always. I don’t know whether it’s because that’s how she looked in the photos I have to remember her by, or because it’s her smile I see when I look in my own mirror. In my most prominent memory, she is laughing as she tosses a bare hamburger patty across a picnic table to my brother, who asked her to “throw” him another.

I know, like anyone, she had ups and downs in life but my memory is of her reveling in everything around her – her family, learning new things, making bouquets from the iris in her garden. She had a way of seeing the bright side that wasn’t too Pollyanna or too glib or too precious. I just knew, from the time I was a tiny girl, that everything would be okay when my mother was around. And it was.

It’s been 30 years this month since she died. Thirty years since I felt that particular cocoon of security only a mother can provide. Since I saw my mother smile in real-time. Since I could pick up a phone and hear her voice. Since she held me.

But my mother left a legacy. Not money; there was never much of that. She left me the most valuable thing she had: The tools to live a happy life. And it’s a one-of-a-kind treasure I am trying to pass along to my Baby Girl, who never got to know her Grandmother Gayle – or Gigi, as she wanted to be called. Sometimes the thought of what could have been, imagining the two of them hand-in-hand, laughing, nearly brings me to my knees. Most days, I am just happy to be the bridge between them.

Here are just a few lessons I’m privileged to pass from Gigi to Baby Girl:

You deserve a man who feels like he doesn’t deserve you. I don’t mean a man who feels subservient. I mean one who continually strives to deserve you as his partner, and you, in turn, do the same for him. That was the example my mom and dad set for me. Click here to read the full column.




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