Mama Says

My mama is a true southern lady. She knows the difference between “a little ways,” and “down the road a piece.” She knows that you can face any crisis as long as your hair looks good. And if you go to her house, she’ll offer you a coke. But it might not be a product of the Coca Cola company.

Mama possesses a wealth of true southern wisdom. Whether I liked it or not, she cast her pearls of wisdom toward me over and over during my growing up years. She still casts them my way. Some of them stuck, and some of them . . . well, we’d better not talk about those. She’ll probably read this article. So, Mama, if you’re reading this, it all stuck. I promise.

My mama taught me:

1. Stand up straight and smile.
2. Look people in the eyes and call them by name.
3. Keep spare tubes of lipstick here and there, in case of emergency.

not so red lipstick

4. Address your elders as “ma’am” and “sir”.
5. Make sure your shoes match the bottom of your skirt.
6. Keep your fingernails clean and filed, even if you don’t have time to paint them.
7. Don’t wear sandals if your toenails aren’t painted. Bright red.


8. Never go to bed with your makeup on.
9. Wear the stilettos. You’ll feel like a million bucks, even though your feet hurt.
10. It is never appropriate for a lady to show her undergarments. Not even the straps.
11. Modest is way hottest. (Okay, she didn’t use those exact words, but she’s right.)
12. Ask people about their mamas.
13. When someone is mean to you, be extra nice to them.
14. Classy people talk about ideas, events, and things. Unclassy people talk about people.
15. Keep an extra clothes basket or two around for emergencies. When you have to clean up the house in a hurry, toss the clutter in the basket and stow it in the closet.
16. Even store-bought cookies look impressive on a silver tray.
17. Use your nice dishes. It’s better to use it and break it than to stick it in a closet and forget about it.
18. Make everyone feel like they are your favorite.
19. Develop a pretty laugh. (I never mastered this one.)
20. Get the expensive haircut and color. It’s worth every penny.
21. Never let your roots show. That’s as bad as letting your undergarments show.
22. If you can’t remember someone’s name, you can substitute “Honey,” or “Sugar”.
23. Smile a lot.
24. It’s okay to cry. Just be sure and wear waterproof mascara.

My  grey eye

25. You can have anything you want, but you can’t have everything you want. You just have to decide what you want the most and go for it.
26. And, my personal favorite: You’re as good as the best and better than the rest.

As you can see, my mama taught me some pretty valuable lessons. But the one thing she taught me, that took root more than anything else, is that I was, am, and always will be deeply loved. I am beautiful and valuable, simply because I am a child of God.

Now, I’m trying to teach my children those same lessons. Well, my daughter, anyway. I’d really prefer my son not paint his toenails. As I walk the path my mother has set before me, I have some pretty fancy stilettos to fill.

Thanks, Mom.

“Her children arise and call her blessed,” Proverbs 31:28.

7 Responses to Mama Says

  1. May 8, 2010 #

    A lovely tribute to your mom, Renae. Happy Mother’s Day to both of you.

  2. May 8, 2010 #

    Thank you, Lillie! And Happy Mother’s Day to you, too!

  3. May 8, 2010 #

    Hey Renae! I’m really glad you posted this! Sometimes being from Indiana but married to a Southern man I feel like I’m missing some of this information. I hope you both get to have a wonderful Mother’s Day tomorrow!

  4. May 8, 2010 #

    Thanks! You too, Emily! 🙂

  5. May 16, 2010 #

    Lot of wisdom there, Renae. You’re lucky to have such a great mom. I noticed on facebook you asked for prayer for your dad and your mom as she takes care of him. So sorry to hear he is having health issues. May God meet their every need.

    Blessings to you, dear friend!

  6. June 14, 2010 #

    Thanks, Cheryl. Blessings to you, too!


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