I come from a long line of head strong, persistent, unbending, determined, unshakable and even sometimes stubborn, vain and obstinate women. These traits are as cultivated and propagated in Southern women as energetically as our “famous” manners. We grow up being taught that saying pretty please, thank you and I’ll pray for you is of the same importance as lip gloss and mascara.
We are coached early in our little lives how and when we pray for the neighbors, when saying bless their hearts is appropriate (nicely or not so nicely), you don’t leave the house without makeup and most importantly when and where to wear waterproof mascara. There isn’t southern woman alive that doesn’t have the “special” tube of mascara for funerals and maybe a wedding. You can bet your bottom dollar if you see a Southern woman crying that wasn’t prepared with waterproof mascara someone has messed up really bad and there will be HELL to pay. I would suggest to run…..
Southern women are reared knowing there are only a few acceptable reasons to show weakness and cry and even then you best not be sobbing in public. That’s reserved solely for those closest to you who can’t run away. This is typically our poor husbands who is completely screwed regardless of what direction he chooses. This poor testosterone filled man who typically is married to the Rock of Gibraltar now finds himself in an non win situation. He really has no good options. If he tries to fix it he is condescending and if he comforts he is babying (and you DON’T baby tenacious) The smart ones just quietly help around the house, hug us tight and send us to the friends for a good cry until it’s out of system.
We need a good cry as much as the next girl – we just DON’T like it!! Somehow we think it’s disrespectful to all those strong women who we come from to fall apart. It’s like we’re disappointing them or we will make them roll over in their graves. The most scary option is they’ll come haunt me. I can’t have that – if my granny came visiting and saw how messy my house is she wouldn’t just role over in her grave she would do somersaults and never leave. I already hear my momma in my head all day- I really don’t know if I could take her too…….
So after telling you all this – you can imagine my surprise the other day as I was driving alone to pick up a parasite (children for those nicer than me) when I found black mascara tears rolling down my cheeks. I have always prided myself on being a “tough ole broad” I don’t cry often and hate it sincerely. If I cry it’s usually a built up explode. Either my feeling are really hurt or I’m mad and trying NOT to kill you, but this was different.
These tears didn’t come from anger or my feelings being hurt, they came from a different place. My first thought was “damn menopause hormones”, but the honest truth is I think they came from a different place. These tears were coming from the sadness of the “light at the end of the tunnel”
I remember when I had three parasites, all in diapers, and I would speak to people who had teenagers and be jealous. I felt like my life was crazy and I saw no end in site. It was a constant life of “diapers, dinners, momma and honey” I remember saying “you have light at then end of tunnel and I’m not so sure I’ll survive til I get there” I never understood their looks of longing at my jealously.
As I sit here today with that light getting so bright in my eyes I need sunglasses I understand. I look up at all my parasites (they’re all taller than me now) and realize I have so little time with them left. I keep thinking it went too fast! Did I do a good enough job? Will they be a good citizen? Will they be good to their fellow humans? Will they be good parents some day? Did they hear me and will they pass on at least a little of what I taught them?
What I realized is the tears came from the realization that my “job” as a parent is almost over. It’s the understanding that this is the most significant job and role I’ll ever play and the only one that may have an impact in 100 years. The tears were rolling down my cheeks because they’re typical teenagers and sometimes I’m so proud my chest may bust and sometimes I’m so scared I can’t breathe. (if you haven’t ever had the experience of teaching a teenager to drive or gotten the call “mom I had a wreck” yet- my advice is your best bet is to keep them in diapers)
The tears were rolling because I’m at the point where I can only maneuver the people I’ve helped develop – good or bad. The heavy lifting of right and wrong and good and evil are past. Their basic emotional and ethic makeup is set. Now I can only pray they heard and choose to live the lessons I tried to teach.
The black mascara tears rolling down my cheeks, which were against every thing I had ever been taught, came from that blinding light or maybe it was only the menopausal hormones . Yep- I think my southern stubborn and unshakable self is going with menopause so the parasites don’t have hell to pay or need to run away any faster than they already are……………..: 😦
Every night the hubby and I participate in the what seems to be the only universal accepted American past time. We sit in front of the boob tube (TV for those of you whose brain is still fully functional- mine has been turned into a mushy ball of fat from watching) Well change that- we attempt to watch the boob tube. Now that we have teenagers it is more of a word scramble where we attempt to hear every third word between the “Mom-I’m home’s, Mom- I need a ride to school early, Mom- Let me tell you what happened today, Moooooom, he farted on me, and the list goes on and on” They can go all day and only manage the simple words of “fine and yeah”, but attempt to do something where they are not the center of attention and all hell will break loose post haste.
I remember the days fondly when they went to bed at 8 (o.k.- 9 – I was never super mom) and there was at least a few hours of adult time, but alas those days are gone and we are left with the only hope of ever getting those hours back in the highly anticipated empty nest and at the rate mine are progressing – I’ll probably die first.
Tonight while in the pursuit of the ever illusive third word I actually grabbed two in a row. (it was a commercial so there was no reason for them to talk at this point) The two words I grabbed though were tremendous. My ears perked up. Apart these words are not special at all, nor would they of grabbed my attention. These were two words that I had never ever thought about putting in the same sentence. They were- get ready for it- “Intelligent Toilet”
To most people I’m sure these words don’t mean much, but to me they cause my brain to go into a tailspin. The face lights up and the idea’s start going faster than a roller coaster. After the initial look over at the man of my dreams and saying “Exactly what the heck is an Intelligent toilet” (well heck wasn’t the word, but my mama will be happy) followed by another 5 of the crazy idea’s in my head out loud- the look on his face alone after the 5th said I needed to hush and go write it down. The show was back on and he really would of liked to hear every third word at least.
The first thought I had after the initial “what the heck” was there must be a new definition of “intelligence” that everyone forgot to tell me about because……..
Exactly how “Intelligent” can a toilet be? Scratch that- there are people with actual brains not much smarter than the average toilet
Does it talk to me? If so, what would it say. I’m imaging something along the lines of “Good morning – are you going to moon me again today?” Can I set the voice to say anything I want? That would be fun- I would set it to scream like a horror movie in the 16 year old’s bathroom every time you sat down or better yet say “Clean me” in an authoritative football coach voice. Yes- that one mama likes!!
Is it perceptive and if so what does it perceive? If it’s who sits down by our weight- well let’s just say if it’s got a weight component you can keep or it’ll end up in the burn pit sitting right next to that horrid scale. However; I might have to purchase if it can perceive a teenage boys is going to miss the bowl and move itself to catch it- that would be a cool trick!!
Does it comprehend it’s own existence? If so – can you imagine how bitter it would be? There are humans running around extremely ornery who just perceive they’ve been shit on- this thing would be miserable.
Does it read and learn? That’s a scary thought and all I can see are millions of Americans everywhere running to the “water closet” to hurry and change out their reading material in order to not “dumb down” the toilet.
I finally decided google was in order- I just had to know what makes a toilet “intelligent” It sadly doesn’t talk. Which is a shame because that little gift to my family would of been fun!! I was impressed -let me tell you this thing lights up, warms your tush, washes you and even cleans itself and it does all this for some crazy astronomical number that if I actually bought would mean I had more money than sense.
So there you have it folks – the new definition of “intelligence” – being able to warm your ass and cleaning yourself after a shit. That sure does puts a whole lot of people back in the intelligent quadrant of society- who knew?? Who needs a college education? I got this licked – or dried!! (Yep it does that too)
It makes me curious what’s coming down the pike next. I don’t know about you but I’m holding out for the “brilliant” box of rocks…………
“”Marriage is a great institution- if you like being institutionalized” – that’s the statement I’ve always heard anyway………
The main question in every happy marriage at some point comes down to this… “Smother him in his sleep or put the earphones in and just play happy music until it passes?” STOP- before everyone gets their knickers in a wad- I’m a woman so I used the pronoun “him”, but trust me I am well aware the feeling is mutual and he’s felt the same way about me just as many times in all these years of marriage.
Tonight I am choosing listening to the music (your release may be something besides music, but just go with me here) I am dancing to the music not because it wouldn’t be simple to smother him in his sleep or that I couldn’t hide the body. (I’m a Southern woman with access to a chipper shredder, at least 10 bottles of bleach, and miles of woodlands) I choose the music tonight because even though I don’t really “like him” right this minute I am well aware I would quickly miss him if he were gone.
Some days as I look at his face I think to myself- really “You Again”? (oh hush- you’ve all thought it at least once if your married – it’s not my fault you won’t grow a set and say it out loud) On these days there is a standard monologue that shortly flows through my conscience. It sounds something like this “RELAX- this too shall pass- you know he’s a good man, he usually makes you laugh, he’s been a great dad and you still actually love him after all these years” The first question I always have as these thoughts flow through is “where did SHE come from?” Why does my conscience always have the sweet southern accent and sound EXACTLY like my mother?? That’s a whole different topic for a later date, but let’s just say it’s sooooo not fair……………..
I remember looking at this man sleeping next to me when we were newly married with all the fascination of a new born baby. I remember feeling how lucky and happy and nothing could ever change that feeling. Almost 20 years and three parasites (children for those sweeter parents) later – nope no more fascination at all – just a snoring asshole. Luckily an asshole I would quickly miss! (Insert annoying sweet southern accent monologue here)
As women, the entertainment industry feeds us princess movies and romantic movies designed to show us what relationships “should look like”, but have you ever noticed they all end after “they get together” and never show us the everyday monotony of waking up and going to bed with the same person for 20 or 50 years. Why do you think that is????
I’ll tell you- The first reason is that would be a horribly boring movie. Can you imagine watching a movie on the drudgery of everyday life? The only thing that movie would be good for is replacing counting sheep. The main reason we don’t see that type of movie is the reality of that kind of love isn’t pretty. That kind of love isn’t all butterflies and rainbows. That kind of love takes commitment (mainly a commitment not to kill them), but a commitment just the same.
I’ve been really lucky and watched my parents hit the 50 years of marriage milestone this year. I’ve watched them do the ebbs and flows of marriage with as much grace as anyone could ever expect.(50 years is a long ass time) It wasn’t always pretty. It wasn’t a perfect marriage (there’s no such thing), but it was as good of an example as anyone could ask. I watched them love each other, dislike each other,and always come back to love. They taught me a lot about true love- true love takes commitment, sacrifice, and a complete surrender of yourself on occasion (i.e. don’t smother them in their sleep) Some days you’ll wake up and may not want to see their face, but if it’s the right one give it a few days and it will probably be different.
As I sit here tonight after deciding that I couldn’t do away with him, not because I couldn’t, but because I didn’t really want too because I would miss him- I realized maybe that’s what real long term love is….. It’s the commitment to wait the few days to see, it’s the commitment to try, it’s the commitment to the everyday chaos and monotony, and definitely the commitment to listen to the happy music and not smother them.
I guess that means if I’ve got to be institutionalized – I’ve chosen this institutionalized chaos…………………
When I set out on my adventure of blogging it was just for me. I needed a place to ramble and get some of my stupid idea’s off my chest. After about a million years of marriage the hubby is tired of hearing them all the time and the parasites have reached the ages where I’m now the dumbest woman alive and very little I say is ever worth listening. The most confusing part though is they enjoy reading them?? I had the thought that maybe I should go mute and write everything on my tablet and pass it around, but I am convinced they would just learn to hit delete then too. Maybe there eyes will absorb more than their ears until their brains come back or they at least think mine did. If it is based on my experience- maybe when they’re 25.
I’ve learned one of the great things about writing this blog is that I am not alone in my insanity. There are more people out there like me or at least people who enjoy roaming around in my brain and seeing the strange humor for 15 minutes a day. When I started to write my mama and one of my friends (whose brain is usually in more of overdrive than mine) were my main points of inspiration. I would talk to them on the phone for 15 minutes a day. Every time I hung up I had a new blog. My mama finally said one day as I started to laugh- “Crap- You’re gonna use that aren’t you? I should just quit talking now” (crap is the worst word she can muster-good southern church women only say shit if a bomb went off next to them and then it can be questionable)
Now something very cool (or scary depending on how you want to look at it) is starting to happen. People have now started to send me in idea’s to write. I’ve always had great friends, but how cool is that? They read an interesting article that could be considered controversial and BAM- I get a “hey- you might wanna write on this topic. I think you could make it entertaining.” One- I love they think I could make it entertaining and two- yeah I don’t have to think as hard today. It also helps me keep my brain roaming around with a million idea’s for days to come. FYI- thanks for the sleep deprivation when my brain is still writing at 2 am too.
One such article was sent to me by a friend the other day that my brain just requires me to spout my brand of nonsense.
This article was from New York Daily News on March 30th. It is about the grief that Susan Patton, one of the first female Princeton graduates in 1977, received after writing a letter to the editor in The Daily Princetonian. This article outraged many women rights advocates because she basically gave women the advice to find their husband on campus before they graduate. Being me and a little crazy I immediately had to go find this article and read it in it’s entirety. I have a daughter growing up and wanted to see if any of this was good advice.
Now the premise of her letter to the editor does have some merit for those of us who actually live in reality land. Granted most people want to live in Politically Correct land where we all can be anything, have it all, and always have rainbows and sunshine coming out of our asses. She never tells women not to chase their professional dreams nor does she tell them not to pursue their goals. The premise of her letter is this:
1) We bombard young women with professional career advice while ignoring advice of a personal nature and the personal part of your life will be explicitly tied to their overall happiness.
2) As women age the amount of men who are their intellectual equals goes down and a woman can’t be happy with anyone who is not
3) They will never have this large of a Olympic sized pool of eligible bachelors again that are your intellectual equals to chose. Men as they age look for younger women so their pool gets larger and ours turn into kiddie pools.
Before the bounder sized rocks start whizzing by my head- she does have some valid points, but there’s a few flaws in her logic.
1) We do have a tendency today to bombard our daughters and young women with career and life advice that doesn’t include marriage and family. If they choose- marriage and family will be a huge part of their overall happiness and should be addressed. We spent the 70’s and 80’s singing that commercial jingle “I can bring home the bacon, Fry it up in a pan, and never ever let you forget you’re a man” I remember my generation grew up thinking that we could actually pull that crap off. When I say crap- I mean crap. We wanted it all and we thought we could pull it off. She went to work, came home and looked like a super model cooking dinner and obviously still had a happy husband- I could do that!! Then the reality set it- the jingle was WRONG!! Once you throw in kids to that equation it should have sounded like this “I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, change the diapers, drive to practice, do the homework, give baths, and never ever let you forget you’re a man” That is not a liberated woman- that’s a frazzled, overworked, sleep deprived, mess of a life! Yes teaching our daughters about how to balance their professional and personal lives is important. We should be teaching them they can have it all. We should just change the definition of a liberated woman. A liberated woman is not one who can do it all- A truly liberated woman is one who doesn’t have to do it by themselves.
2) There is more to a marriage than just intellectual compatibility. I’m not saying it’s not important because I wouldn’t want to particularly live with someone who was dumb as mud, but some might. Many people marry for many reasons and none aren’t valid. There are also many types of intelligence. In the South we separate them into “book smarts” and “common sense” I have a cousin who is absolutely book smart brilliant, but has zero common sense. He can put together a multi-million dollar deal, but forgets where he parks his car and reports it stolen. I can’t put together a multi-million dollar deal, but I can usually find my car. Who is to say which form of intelligence is more valid or useful? As a matter of fact we are usually jealous of which ever we don’t have. If a successful marriage is about complimenting each other shouldn’t the extremely book smart person marry someone who has common sense. Wouldn’t it be wiser for the book smart partner to close his deals while the common sense partner finds the car? If not wiser- definitely easier. Humor is also a huge portion of long term compatibility. Raising your little parasites will be more challenging than anything you will ever do in your life unless you become President of the United States. That seems to be the only career path that ages people faster than raising children. If you can’t both learn to laugh together at the ridiculousness of what has become of your everyday life you will start to go mad. For several years those bouts of laughter you have together will be the more intimate than the quickies you have in the bathroom while the kids are watching cartoons. Pick the partner with traits that work for you and don’t be ashamed if it takes a few.
3) I understand what she’s saying about men wanting younger women, but I don’t think she’s giving near enough men near enough credit. She actually says in the article that men as they age are only looking for women who are pretty and we’ll settle for a little dumber than they are to accomplish the looks. Now I have had more men friends than women friends most of my life and for the record- THAT’S JUST NOT TRUE!! The only women who believe that are women who have very few men friends. Those are the scary women my friends used to date that only had female friends. Their idea’s on how men think are a convoluted mess of too many nights of wine sitting around with women complaining. There are no more superficial men that are only looking for that in a partner than there are superficial women only looking for money. Guess what- those people usually end up together and get what they deserve. Would you really want that man anyway? Let the superficial be superficial together. Most men truly want just a few things in a partner. They want a partner who is confident and secure in themselves. They want a partner they can relate too. After a certain age men don’t even change their clothing style since they were in high school so they certainly don’t want to learn a whole new generation. They want a woman to need their strength even if it is something as simple as to take out the trash. They want to not think too much. The best wedding advice I was ever given was simple and clear and still rings true to 90% of the men I have met in my life. Men are simple creatures and if you want to keep them happy do three simple things . Be a kind mama in the kitchen, a funny sister on the couch and slut in the bedroom and don’t confuse the three. If you can pull those few simple things off and weren’t hit by every branch of the ugly tree on the way down they don’t care if you’re 20 or 60 and will do their best to keep you happy too. If they can’t appreciate and respect those skills- let em go find the gold digger. You just keep on saying NEXT cause I promise eventually one will!
I applaud Susan Patton saying the absolutely non politically correct because I think her heart was in the right place. She wants women to bring home the bacon and fry it up in the pan and never forget he’s a man. She wants them to have it all, but she’s a generation behind is why everyone went nuts. I want my daughter to have it ALL! I want her to be liberated in the truest sense of the word. I want her to do what makes her happy! If she wants to have a career then be liberated enough to choose to stay single or to choose a partner who will assist her in life and respect her for her strengths and compliment her weaknesses. I want her to be liberated and confident in herself to know that partner will come along and her believe she’s a hell of a catch when he does and be liberated in her decision to raise a family if she chooses
Isn’t that what all women have been fighting for all these generations? It’s not just equal pay, equal job opportunities, or even equal benefits. True liberation means true equality to make our own decisions and be respected for them all. Now that I’m done bringing home the bacon- I’m gonna do what generations of women before me have done and go pull off my bra through my sleeves, put on comfy cloths, fry up the bacon, and remind my husband he never ever should let me forget I’m a woman. That’s what true equality means to me!!
I’m having one of those days that I can write about a hundred 1 liner funny Facebook posts, but when I start to flesh them out I run into a problem. They either get too serious, could be taken as offensive, or my good little southern mama might disown me. Most of the really funny one’s fall under the last category. In you’re from the South, and your mama is still living, then every woman (even if you’re over 40 and a mama yourself) knows that when your mama ain’t happy then ain’t nooo body happy. Trust me- I still strive to make my mama happy. My mama’s dispensing guilt gene is unparalleled. She can dispense guilt with just a glance -she doesn’t even require speaking. I think there’s a super power in there somewhere and I just pray mine develops.
What’s funny about my mama is her super power can cross generations. My parasites are much more scared of disappointing “NA NA” they they have ever been of me. They play a good game of pretending to be scared of me, but the reality in this family is that NA NA holds all the cards! I spend most of my time just trying to keep them fed, bathed, in clean cloths, continuing good grades, driving to practices, trying to keep them out of prison, and avoiding letting them kill themselves with stupid behavior (Just the later is a full time job as they get older). NA NA on the other hand actually has the patience and time to teach them respect for themselves and others. I used to feel a little jealous, but then I realized there is something comforting when my daughter comes out and says “Oh no- I can’t wear that- NA NA would have a heart attack right then and there” or the boys inform me “I need a suit coat and a tie for that wedding or funeral or NA NA will disown me” It sure does make my life easier!
As I look back over my life now I am starting to understand many things in my upbringing and why my children fear and respect NA NA so much.
Now part of being really (and I mean REALLY) Southern is growing up in extremely large extended families. Now in the south related can mean anywhere from 1st cousin to 27th cousin or 1st cousin 26th removed for those from other parts. We grow up playing with, spending time at family reunions and church with these people regularly. These are all considered family and if your mama is from the south she can tell ya every generation. Hell- I’ve got some my mama can tell me how I’m related to them twice on two different sides in generations that are 7 apart. A southern mama’s memory is long and very very scary! That’s why southern women spend so much time at the funeral home and making dinners- they are related to everyone.
Because of this closeness to family, most of us don’t move real far. When I grew up I lived next to my grandparents and the very next house up was my great grand parents. Now most think that’s CRAZY, but in the south it’s completely normal and sometimes even expected. Believe it or not- almost all of my friends lived in very similar situations. If it wasn’t next door it was no more than 1/2 a mile away from their grandparents. My great grandparents got me off the bus. I spent every afternoon with them hearing stories and learning all sorts of things. I can tell you county and family history now with the best of them. I can wash cloths in a wash tub, prepare a chicken from alive to the table, grow vegetables, cook fried okra, and mend a shirt. I refuse to do any of these things, but by-god I’m southern and I can! We’ve been doing that “It takes a village” thing for generations and we take it seriously!
There’s an old saying that you should give your children roots so they know where they come from and wings so they are confident enough to fly away from the nest. Our mothers give us both, but due to the guilt super power our mothers possess and being surrounded by family our roots stretch- oh 27 generations deep. Our wings are large and they usually let us fly away for a little while or roughly until our own little birds start to fill up our own nest and then amazingly we start looking at houses that are back close to mama. Our wings are strong, but getting roots like that out of the ground just requires more strength than Hercules much less our poor little wings. The roots seem to get longer once we have our own smaller birds in tow. Some do pull it off, but don’t be fooled- those children of southern mama’s still call almost every day.
I am completely southern so as usual when the first parasite began to show in my belly the immediate draw home began. I had spent 30 years trying to get away, but there I was 8 months pregnant and waddling moving in next door. The draw home was powerful. I felt like Odysseus listened to the Sirens song. I had no idea what this sudden urge for my mama and my family land was all about or even who I was anymore. I felt like Scarlet saying “I know- I’ll go home to the red earth of Tara” Who was I? What strong woman does this anymore? Why do I not want to be on my own? Do I think I am not capable? Am I weak?
As I pondered these questions I looked around and thought about all the things I learned in my grandmothers and great grand mothers house’s and smiled. I had learned respect for my elders, respect for myself, respect for other people, love of family, to relax and see the comedy and beauty of life, and that roots are good and powerful. The largest and strongest tree’s have the deepest roots. I wasn’t weak I came from something stronger than myself. I came from a huge strong tree and I was about to help it form new branches and those branches spirits needed to be fed in order for them to develop and be strong. I couldn’t nor did I want to do it alone. The parasites needed a NA NA.
There’s an old saying in the south when you are doing something your ancestors wouldn’t approve of “your granny (or grandfather) is rolling over in their graves” I have done a lot in my life to make my granny roll over in her grave, but bringing the parasites home to raise I’m pretty sure made her smirk and dance a little jig. I just hope the Red Earth of Tara and Na Na can help me keep them from making my granny do somersaults. 🙂