Light At The End Of The Tunnel
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……………..: 😦
“”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…………………
Breaking News at 11!!!!
In today’s world truly being from the South has lost many of it’s meanings. Today most people that live in the South are from other parts of the country. I understand the phenomena because if I had to live buried in snow 9 months of the year I would pack my bags and run faster than a hungry cheetah toward warm weather too. Because of this plethora of what we in southern polite society call “Damn Yankee’s” (this is different than a normal yankee because these never leave) finding a person who can make a single syllable word sound as if it has more than 3 is almost as hard as finding that illusive needle in a haystack. We are still around it’s just we temper it more in public. As one of my close friends says to me regularly “uh oh your southern is showing- did you spend time with your family today” to which I respond “Yeeeaaah maaaaybe a lettle too much”
Because these little southern society nuances are disappearing it always make me giggle and laugh when something just “hits me upside the head” (yes another southern term) and says “By Golly you do still live in the South”. One of these little baseball bats came tonight. As I sat and watched, oh just another mind numbing stupid entertainment TV show”, a ticker flashed across the bottom of my screen. As my hubby and I read this ticker we both started to laugh. It said and I’m quoting “Breaking News at 11- Thief runs off with 10 foot rooster”.
Now for anyone who knows me understands that something this absolutely bizarre takes my brain by storm. This is a situation my gray matter has never considered nor thought of so the implications and questions start before I can even help myself. The things that start neuron explosions in my brain can be quite odd and even a bit scary. As I sit with tears of laughter rolling down my face I begin to rapid fire them at the hubby. (He’s just so thrilled because this poor man lives with this insanity everyday) I always start out innocent enough, but as I really get going my brain gets and evil streak that would make Betty White blush.
So this poor man who loves me gets to sit and hear questions such as:
Exactly how strong is this thief to run with a 10 foot rooster? Is he Hercules because I’m pretty sure a 10 foot rooster is heavy
How do we know it was a thief and the yard bird didn’t wander out of his yard and he was just collecting it? This is the South and there are still people with yard birds
What does one do with a 10 foot rooster? My family has eaten a whole lot of gospel bird (fried chicken for those of you not from here) in our lives and I’m not sure we’ve ever eaten that much
This is about when it all starts to go down hill……..
You know honey it could of only been better if they had of used the word “cock” instead. (Yes – cock is a perfectly acceptable word for rooster- get your mind out of the gutter with mine)
Why would you want a 10 foot cock in your front yard? Unless he does yard work then maybe
How exactly does a man run with a 10 foot cock? Maybe there’s “shrinkage”
Why exactly do you want a 10 foot cock? I might have an answer for that
Where does one find a 10 foot cock? This is the age old question of women every where
Where do you hide a 10 foot cock? hmm- that kinda sounds uncomfortable
Can you shop for 10 foot cocks in your neighborhood pawn shop? Now that might get interesting
Why would a man want to steal a 10 foot cock? Maybe he is a porn agent
The questions go on and on…….. until I’m a giddy fool and the husband is looking at me with that ever loving look of “for the love of god woman please shut up”
Well the news finally came on and the reality of a big ole metal rooster wasn’t near as fun as my imagination, but is reality ever as much fun or as bad as your imagination?? I can speak from experience, in my twisted mind, it isn’t so I’m going back in for more.
I’m dreaming it’s College football bowl season and the Oregon St Beavers are playing the South Carolina Gamecocks for the National Championship! So until next time when we discuss the joys of that commentary…………………………….. 🙂
Relax Chicken Little- The Sky Is Just Fine!!
Oops- I watched the news again!!! Now I know better and am well aware that watching our new sensationalist, ratings driven, and politically slanted (pick a program based on which side you already believe) news media makes my head spin around and look like Linda Blair in the Exorcist. I know this to be a fact, but sometimes I decide to give them the benefit of the doubt and try it again. It’s never a good idea, but my optimistic soul over rules my brain and the result is….. oh a reaction something similar to an atomic bomb of words such as those my southern mama would disown me for actually writing publicly so you will just have to guess.
Now the latest that has seemed to of “Gotten My Goat” (yes gotten my goat is a southern term and it’s appropriate-and no I don’t know the origin so go look it up) is a news special on the college spring break in Panama City. Now this news channel (let’s just call it the channel for the fundamentalist right which for our purposes we’ll just call the Al Jazeera of America) If you are Chicken Little and believe the sky is falling then “By George” this is the channel for you!!
Now anyone my age that has ever gone on a college spring break or a graduation trip with friends without parents knows exactly what happens on those trips and if you have forgotten then shame on you!!! If you are sitting in your home 30 years later saying things like “that wasn’t happening then” or “we didn’t do THAT” or the ever famous LAST WORDS “my child will not” then you have either completely forgotten reality or have found that elusive little ostrich hole to put your head in that keeps eluding me. (trust me I have teenage parasites and I really want that hole) 🙂
The reality is-there is drinking. Yes a lot of drinking. That is what college age kids do on spring break. That’s why they go. Yes- to the mama that thinks little Johnny is perfect- the percentage chance of your perfect son drinking a beer during spring break is probably -oh close to 98%. The chance of him actually hugging a porcelain throne during that week is probably over 50%. Oh and mama of perfect Katie- your chances are about the same, but the toilet hugging probably goes up.
If you will all remember back through the fog of adulthood you will remember a few things. This right of passage consists of waaaaay to many of your friends all crammed into one hotel room (you’re in college and it’s all you can afford). There at least two others sleeping on the floor because there isn’t enough beds or it happens to be a friend from another room who that was just as far as they could make it at that particular moment. The refrigerator is completely full (of mixer and beer) and there is a one loaf of bread and PBJ on the counter. The table has been converted into a compilation of drinking games, and there are empty beer cans -oh in every nook and cranny available. It takes 3 hours and an entire box of trash bags just to clean the room before you leave.
I’m not saying I agree with the right of passage, but I still understand IT IS a right of passage. I’m not saying I want my parasites (kids for those new to me) to participate in the right of passage, but I still understand that after 18 they probably will!! I just hope someone who truly cares about her is nice and holds her hair back and protects her as she sleeps on the bathroom floor. That friend who loves you enough to hold your hair back is a friend for life and I’ve been lucky (or dumb) enough to have a few.
So back to why this program “Got My Goat” It was designed to do nothing, but scare the absolute shit out of every parent in America of any child age 10 to 25. They put a blonde woman (who may be all of 30) out in an entrance to the beach in Panama City right in the middle of Spring Break. Now she just stands there and does interviews as the kids pass. I am sure they stood there for an entire day and we got about a whole 5 minutes. We only saw the drunkest and most disrespectful. (oh- they were there then too) We only heard the drug stories (oh- they were there then too and just like us our little blessings will have to determine there own path) We only heard about the nudity (fyi- there have been girls who were willing to flash their melons longer than we’ve all been alive and will still be here long after we are dead and buried and rolling over in our graves)
Do you think they walked down the beach and showed us the kids having a few beers and playing Frisbee? Of course not!! Do you think they showed us the interviews of respectful kids who said we are just here having fun? Of course not!! They showed us only the scariest, most sensational, and ratings driven and then acted like it was the end of the world as we know it!! Suddenly all the youth in America have gone completely off the rails and OH MY- chicken little the sky is falling!!
Well guess what parents – they are doing exactly the same thing college students have been doing for generations!! There have been disrespectful kids, kids that do drugs, girls who flash, and the standard ole drunken debauchery for as long as there have been college age kids and guess what the sky hasn’t fallen yet and probably won’t this time either. Every person still has to pick their own way. I know you want to think it’s obviously worse, but it’s not! I know you want to believe it’s much scarier now, but it’s not! I know you want to think my child will not, but they will!
Wanna know the funny part to me- 30 years ago our parents were saying the same thing. Wanna know the funniest part to me- 30 years from now those exact same kids who we saw in the news cast will be saying the exact same thing about theirs!
So maybe the only true reality is that spring break is the college age right of passage and the middle aged believing the world is going to hell in a hand basket is the middle age right of passage. Maybe we should put it right up there with loss of testosterone and menopause.
I’ve decided I’m not going to fall for their sensationalism. I’m gonna go for a stroll through memory lane. As I remember the crowded hotel rooms, and beer stained carpets I’m gonna smile. One because of all the precious memories and two because I survived. I survived with wonderful memories and lots of life lessons. Not only did I survive – my parents survived (and trust me there was many a day they thought they wouldn’t) I’m gonna smirk at my parasites who think I’m completely clueless and laugh because they have NO idea. I’m gonna “secretly” laugh when I bust them and smirk when I intentionally don’t because I’ve gotta let them think they’re smart sometimes.
The reality is that the sky isn’t falling it’s just time marching on and it happens to be their turn to make those memories. What I’ve learned is those memories will help them raise their own someday and keep a smirk on their face and trust me since they’ll be paying for their own raising they’ll need it!!!
Red Earth of Tara
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. 🙂