Rule #6: Love and Listen to Your Mama and Daddy

“Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching, for they are a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck.” -Proverbs 1:8-9

My, how time has flown since the day I moved out of my parents’ house and into my college dorm and now my very own apartment. I remember countin’ down the days until I moved into my dorm in Creswell Hall that was half the size of my bedroom at home, and I even had to share it with someone. While I’m barely able to remember those times these days, there are other memories that quickly come to mind that make me regret every excitin’ feelin’ I had about movin’ out on my own.

The first memory that made me regret those feelin’s was one of the first times I had to provide dinner for myself. While I probably wasn’t regrettin’ those feelin’s the day before when I was galavantin’ around spendin’ my (well, I guess my parent’s that they’d given to me) money as I saw fit, I was definitely feelin’ some type of remorse the next night when I was watchin’ tv while eatin’ those infamous Ramen noodles. I was all alone in my dorm while my roommate went home to eat dinner with her family since she lived only an hour away. Of course, I didn’t have that luxury bein’ from below the Macon-Dixon line (aka, south of Macon, Georgia). It was then that I realized how unthankful I’d been about my mama’s home-cooked suppers every night and my daddy’s countless tips about savin’ my money. Talk about a wake-up call, y’all.

The next one of those times was when I was busily studyin’ for my college finals. Finals durin’ my first year weren’t so hard, but the ones durin’ my first semester of my second year proved to be a rude awakenin’. Y’all, I can remember doin’ everything in my power not to call my mama. I kept tellin’ myself, “I can do this. I’m a grown woman who’s smart and can make it through this.” Tellin’ myself this definitely didn’t work, but somehow, hearin’ my mama and daddy both tell me, “Baby, you are a strong, smart, beautiful young lady at one of the south’s top public universities. They wouldn’t have let you in if they didn’t think you could handle it, and you wouldn’t still be there if you couldn’t. You can do this. These tough times will pass.” As y’all can see, this was essentially the same thing I told myself, but I guess I couldn’t quite believe it until I heard it from them. (It usually takes them tellin’ me somethin’ for me to believe it with just about anything. I may be a grown woman, but I can’t quite think like one yet; hence them still callin’ me “baby.”)

Now I’m about to tell y’all about a time that seems to happen on a recurrin’ basis. I enjoy keepin’ it classy in the Classy/Classic City, even on a few Friday and Saturday nights. While I always have fun with my friends, I too often see somethin’ that rattles my feathers: young men disrespectin’ young ladies, physically or verbally. What’s even worse is when the young ladies find it acceptable. No ma’am, no sir, no way on earth is it ok with me. Every time I see this happen to someone else or, Lawd forbid someone’s fixin’ to try it on me, I always remember my parent’s preachin’ to me about how a young gentleman should treat a young lady and, more importantly, how my daddy has always treated my mama. I’m usually followin’ my quiet, mild-mannered, southern belle ways, but whenever somethin’ like this happens to me or one of my close friends, my southern sass kicks into full gear, and that wretched young man feels like those Yankees did after the battle of First Manassas.

One of the times that I really should’ve listened to Mama and Daddy was when I finally broke down and realized that I needed to learn how to cook. Y’all, my mama, bless her sweet heart, has tried relentlessly since I was a young’un to teach me my way around the kitchen and grocery store. I can still remember from the time I was a young’un til right before I left for college followin’ her around the store as she pushed the buggy and listenin’ to her say, “You’re gonna need to know where __________ is located in the grocery store one day.” I guess I always just assumed that I’d be on meal plan my entire college career. Wrong, y’all! I started tryin’ to learn how to cook through Pinterest back in September. I can still recall pickin’ a few recipes that seemed easy enough to fix, makin’ my grocery list, then spendin’ hours pushin’ my buggy around Kroger tryin’ to find all the stuff that Mama had pointed out to me before. The struggles didn’t end there, y’all, as I completely ruined every single one of those first set of meals. Eventually, I conquered all of them as well as many others, but it would have been so much easier if I had listened to Mama.

Actually, y’all, just listenin’ to her and Daddy the first time about everything would have made my life so much easier. I think this realization is the only thing that somewhat constitutes me as a grown woman. (Lovin’ and respectin’ them is what makes you a southern belle, which I’ve always done.)

Happy lovin’, respectin’, and listenin’, y’all!

Don’t Forget to Remember Me by Carrie Underwood

This is one of my favorites y’all, and not just because it’s Carrie singin’ it. I’ve been missin’ my mama lately, so this song always reminds me that she’s just a phone call away. Havin’ my mama tell me for the millionth time, “You’re a strong, smart, beautiful young lady,” always gives me just the boost I need to get through my rough week.

Call your mamas, y’all, and tell her you love her.

Rule #4: Mind Your Manners

Down here in Georgia, the words okay, alright, and the like are used, but only towards your friends that are your age or younger. If I were to even think about usin’ ’em to talk to my Mama and Daddy, not only would I get a raised eyebrow, but the use of my middle name combined with my first name as well in that voice parents use when they’re about to give you a whoopin’.

As a rule of thumb, if someone is five years or more older than you, you MUST add a “ma’am” or “sir” to your response to their question or request. I know some people from above the Mason Dixon line who have told me that usin’ ma’am and sir is a sign of disrespect or saracasm. Well not down here, y’all. This might as well be the eleventh commandment. 

And don’t y’all be forgettin’ about your standard “nice words” that your mama engrained into y’all’s heads before you had company over for the first time since you learned to speak: please and thank you. I really hope y’all are sayin’ “duh” as you read this because this is such an obvious rule, but y’all never know how some mamas raised their young’uns. 

Last but not least, when y’all do have company over, whether it’s for a gourmet country fried steak dinner with all the fixin’s or just a glass of iced tea on the porch, y’all always invite ’em back with the southern standard, “Y’all come back now, ya here?!” This don’t mean you have to invite ’em back if they were horrible company that didn’t mind their manners, but you always say it anyways just to make sure y’all ended on a good note.

Got it, y’all?

(If y’all responded with a “yes ma’am,” then you’re one step closer to becomin’ the ultimate southern belle.)

 

Rule #3: Never Forget Where You Come From

Sorry y’all, I know it’s been awhile. I have a good excuse though… I went home this past weekend to visit my family and close friends. And let me tell ya, it was amazin’. I know I complain about the three-hour drive from Athens to Statesboro (which I will refer to from now on as “the Boro”), but there seriously ain’t no better place to relax and unwind. I swear, the further south you go, the slower life is. Lemme just tell you a little about my trip, so sit down, grab a glass of sweet tea, and let’s talk.

Alright, so after I got all the way back to the Hopulikit (which is a small community where I live right outside of the Boro town), my mama had my favorite supper waitin’ for me when I got home: grilled steak, baked potatoes with all the fixin’s, and peaches. Y’all, it was simply amazin’. My mama’s and daddy’s hugs would have been more than enough for my welcome home gift, but, like always, she put on the dog and made the most delicious meal. After we blessed and ate supper, the rest of the evenin’ was spent on our back porch watchin’ our cats and dog play in the backyard, listenin’ to the sounds of an evenin’ summer, and, of course, talkin’ about all the juicy Boro gossip I missed while I was in Athens. (In case you’re wonderin’, someone we knew married his ex-wife’s sister. I’m not lyin’ to ya.)

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As if that supper wasn’t enough, my mama and little sister drove me to my favorite place on earth: the Georgia coast. We spent the entire day on Tybee Island, Georgia. (Just so y’all know, that’s where the movie “The Last Song” was filmed.) I did absolutely nothin’ all day but ride the waves, work on my much needed tan, eat some bo’led peanuts, and sip on a few cold ones. The sun was shinin’ and the breeze was blowin’. Now, of course, the beach is the only place where I don’t worry about what my hair’s doin’. This is truly what bein’ a southern belle is all about y’all… Feelin’ blessed for the little things while wearin’ your pearls and drinkin’ your tea.

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After I reached my lobster red skin color, we headed on back to the Boro. Later that night, I got to see many of my close friends from high school. I know I’m talkin’ y’all’s ears off all the time about how great it is to be a Dawg, and it is, but y’all gotta remember where this sense of football/school pride was instilled in me…

See, back before I brought my southern belle class to the Classic City, I was a proud little Blue Devil from Statesboro High School. My pearls were still worn everyday, my mama and daddy were still the center of my heart, but I cheered louder on Friday nights than Saturday nights down at Womack Field for my then-favorite football team.  Y’all, I can still remember cryin’ at Waffle House after our team lost in the third round of the state football playoffs, just like I cried after the Dawgs lost to LSU in the SEC Championship game this past year. I guess some things never change.

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As I was fixin’ to leave my house after church on Sunday, I realized that this was the first time since my freshman year of college that I really didn’t want to go back. Y’all, I love my family, friends, and pets so much. They made me the pearl-wearin’, tea-sippin’, yes-ma’amin’ southern belle I am today. 

Thank the Lawd I was raised in the south.

Happy reminiscin’, y’all!

You can take the southern belle out of south Georgia, but you can never take the south Georgia out of the southern belle.