Your words matter, Momma. As I’m taking a guess daily at life, evaluating whether or not I said or did what mattered in the three sets of eyes looking up at me, it’s the things that came out of my mouth that I knew shouldn’t have that make falling asleep in peace hard.
The couple of times my Mom said something hurtful to me in my 30 years of life, I remember like it was yesterday. You know what’s crazy? When I brought up those two things to her in just this past year, she didn’t remember saying either one of them.
I’m not trying to get you off of the hook for shooting off foul, hateful, critical language to your kids. Just keep it at the front of your mind (I’ll be right there with you!), your words matter. Apologies are always better than silence.
"Don’t be the reason your kid needs therapy.”
Opening the door up into my childhood through therapy brought a lot tumbling out that I didn’t like. As an adult, it was my job to now organize (throw out what wasn’t needed, store what was, and pass through the love of God some items that just couldn’t be tied up in a little bow). The point is definitely not to paint my parents or anyone in my childhood in a bad light but to let you in on what I do remember. My Mothers’ sayings… they mean so much more than a couple of off hand comments.
“She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.” Proverbs 31:26
*written in 2013 when Mamaw was still alive
Every day, I hear my Mothers' voice. My biological Momma, Nana, and Mamaw have through my upbringing, shared little tidbits of information. For my Momma, she would repeat these things to me daily. Nana, would sit me down and have "a talking" with me that always ended with, "Now, you know your Nana loves you and I'm usually not wrong about these things."Mamaw would mostly say things under her breath- I would have to listen carefully. But, I learned most life lessons from watching these women work and love throughout their lives.
"Don't ever go hungry without coming here first."
I am so thankful that my Mamaw is still alive*. Her memory is not anything like it used to be- she still believes that I am the young mother to Dallas and that he is crawling around calling her "Maw". She will be 90 years old this June, and I can only imagine what her life has seen. I had the utmost admiration for her growing up- I loved going to the church to help her cook for the homeless. The sign from the road read, "Free Meal to Anyone in Need". It was my job to tally the people that came in and to stir the pots. At seven years old, I was saved. From that point on, Mamaw would have me go into the the dining room with the needy and pray. Every 30 minutes, I would go in there and ask a prayer over their food. "Don't do that rote prayer you said when you were little. And make sure you say Amen," she would remind me. Mamaw also headed up a food pantry and clothes closet for "any and everyone in need". After filling a cardboard box with cereal, flour, canned milk, and canned goods, she would tell them, "Don't ever go hungry without coming here first." As she locked up the steel door I heard the firm command, "You have to treat everyone equal- you never know when you will end up without anything." I could never imagine Mamaw and Papaw being poor. Papaw worked hard up until his very last days. But, she would remind me that growing up, she was embarrassed that she only had "peanut butter crackers" instead of a ham biscuit in her lunch pail. She ate oatmeal for breakfast, used an outhouse, washed her clothes by hand, and got an orange in her stocking every year at Christmas. She knew what it was like to not have as much, and she knew how to work hard. Mamaw was the first person I told that I was pregnant. Her response, "Well, that's alright. It's going to be okay. Babies are a blessing, and you're going to have one for a reason." In her older years (I wasn't around for the younger ones), Mamaw did not tell many people what she was going to do for the day, "If you don't tell anyone your plans, they can't tell you 'No'". She was always going. And as hard as it is to remember her saying, "If you quit moving, you'll just die," I know that she has lived and led a beautiful life!
"You shouldn't go should'n"
I am fortunate to also still have my Nana around. According to her, she "still isn't old" at 85 years young. She is the most caring, level-headed woman that I know. I have came to her with my doubts and fears since a very young age. She has seen me through childhood friendships lost, bad school grades, teen pregnancy, too many of the "not good enough boys" I dated, and motherhood. Through her, I have seen her be a devoted wife and mother. Her advice may have seemed outdated, but I would always find myself following her recommendations. Many a time she has been upset with me worrying over the past, "You shouldn't go 'should'n over something you can't change." My favorite thing about my Nana is her sense of humor. She gets "tickled" quite often. It's hard to say what will set her off, but if she's not laughing then something isn't right. Many a time I have walked through "sticky situations" with her, and her final comment would usually be, "Well, if we didn't get arrested, then we must have done something right!" If I am ever in need of love and a lipstick kiss, I can count on my Nana. "Just a little Coca Cola won't hurt" and "A little sugar will settle your stomach"- her ways of enjoying the little things in life.
"Be happy, and they will be happy."
My Momma... I think I fought against her up until the point that I became a mother myself. It's hard to understand the sacrifices they make and the things a mother does out of love until you find yourself looking back in your memory vault to see how she handled a situation. Then, turn and do the same with my own children. My Momma is a worker- she loves to be outside and do for others. I used to sit in the truck on the steepest of hills watching her dig a ditch in the Georgia summer heat. I watched from the window as she mowed, pulled weeds, planted flowers and then went next door to my Mamaw's and did the same in her yard (if Mamaw let her). "Always plant pansies for color in winter," was her advice. On sunny, cold, winter days, Momma would throw open the front door, pull up all the blinds and lay outside on the patio in a bikini- soaking up every bit of Vitamin D that she could. She knows how to live!
I have probably went to my Momma for parenting advice 1000x's of times. I don't remember her raising me as a baby, but I think that I turned out alright. Therefore, I trust her wisdom. When frustrated with Lillie-Mae not falling asleep when rocking her, "Lay your baby down to sleep and she will sleep." And she was right! Lillie-Mae would talk, toss and turn, spit out her paci, and then just fall asleep. "I always just fed y'all when you seemed hungry." No 'by the clock' feedings according to her. My favorite advice, "Be happy and they will be happy." Dallas' first days were started with a smiling, singing Mommy even though I didn't always feel up to the task.
Unfortunately, I have had my fair share of sickness starting when I was a child. After moving out, I would lay on the couch, delirious from high fevers, and my Momma would say "Go.To.The.Doctor." I would, and I would get better for a little bit. Then, I just "took my health into my own hands" and started trying every natural remedy to rid and ward off sickness. Now, with a built up immunity and Silver Shield at hand, I have my own ways. However, my Momma will stop by at will with a flashlight at hand, ready to look down my throat or in my ears to give her judgement of my condition.
I don't have many "deep" conversations with my Momma, but I can always count on her to find humor in the situation. "Some people, you have to imagine they are 14. Then, you can just accept their ways." And she always likes to remind me, "Your middle name is Louise for a reason." Somedays it's to compliment and most days it comes with a head shake and stern smile.
I am so blessed to have had these women as my "Mothers" growing up!
I love them all, and I believe that I have a piece of each of them in my personality. I hope I stay witty like my Nana, strong like my Mamaw, and beautiful like my Momma.