I grew up in Minnesota and lived in the Midwest most of my life. As a kid, we spent our summers up North at the lake and our winters flying down an ice-coated sledding hill on a blue plastic saucer. We ate Kraft Macaroni and Cheese and fish sticks and lost our minds when the ice cream truck came ding-donging down the road. The moms that I was surrounded by (friend’s moms, neighbors, my grandmas and my own mom) were kind, even-keeled, soft-spoken, and drama-free. I loved growing up in Minnesota and have such fond memories when I think about my childhood.
I didn’t become a mom until I had left the Midwest and moved to Charleston four years ago, so my personal experience of being a mom has only been in the South. And, since I’ve only lived down here since becoming a mom, I’m probably not fully aware of what being a mom in the Midwest is like today (my memories are from growing up there in the 90’s). I have mom friends that have moved from all over the country that now live in Charleston, so I feel so lucky because I get to see so many different versions of “mom-ing”.
And what I can tell you, is that from my experience, there are some things that Southern Mamas are just doing so right.
- They are raising adventurous eaters. I know to them, eating oysters and peeling a shrimp and popping it into your mouth is just normal, but I am blown away every time I see a little kid crack open an oyster shell and chomp into the saltine cracker like it is no big deal. I can’t even bring myself to choke one down (and I’m 32). From my Midwesterner’s perspective, Southern Mamas don’t put a stigma on any food, so there’s no anxiety or preconceived notions about it. An oyster = a PB& J sandwich. No big deal! I am so happy that my kids will be able to grow up in this environment and hopefully become much more adventurous eaters than I am.
- Southern Mamas teach manners from Day 1. When I grew up, I always called my friends’ parents by their first name. It was never intended to be a disrespectful thing, but looking back on it, it seems a little weird. Within two days of moving to Charleston, we realized that all of the kids on our street were calling our neighbor “Mr. Jimmy”. I am now “Miss Allison” to all of my boys’ little friends and I love it. Introducing adults to our kids as “Mr ____” and “Miss ____” is second nature to us now, and I’m glad that my kids will grow up understanding the dynamic between adults and children and the appropriate way to speak to grownups.
*Side note – as a Northerner I’m still having a hard time with the “no ma’am, yes ma’am, no sir, yes sir” thing. We just never grew up saying that and even though I know it’s the right thing to do living down here, it does not come naturally to me. I want my boys to be raised with good Southern manners (because they are Charlestonians!), so I need to get on this. Also, I had never heard “no ma’am” and “no sir” as a phrase you say when your kids are being naughty! It totally goes to show how Southern Mamas teach their kids manners as soon as they are born.
- Their kids are put-together at all times (or so it seems!) Don’t hate me, but I don’t totally *get* the smocked clothing thing. BUT, I do love how put together kids of Southern Mamas are all the time! Southern Mamas make sure that their children have the appropriate outfit for every occasion and guaranteed, their tops are always going to match their bottoms. I live for the big bows on little Southern girls and I’m not even mad at the monogrammed outfits. My homely kids were for sure the only kids at their school’s Easter Parade without dress shoes (insert face palm emoji here, ha!). When their note from school said to wear your “Sunday Best” for the last day of school performance, my boys just wore polo shirts and khaki shorts, with their New Balance tennis shoes. I really need to step up my game down here! But I can’t get enough of these well dressed kids!
- Southern Mamas are super put-together too! Of course every mom, no matter where you live, looks like death at school drop-off in the morning. Yoga pants and top knots are a universal look across the country. But, when Southern Mamas have a reason to dress up, they know how to do it. As a Northerner, my idea of a date-night outfit was a black sweater with a leopard scarf. Ha! When a Southern Mama goes out, not only does she have a super cute outfit on, but the accessories! I quick bought myself some tassel earrings a year ago after admiring them on practically every Southern mom I know here. Southern Mamas are just head-to-toe put together and I am so inspired by it! I want to be like that too!
- Boiled peanuts! Okay, I know this is a weird one, but honestly, boiled peanuts are the absolute best kid snack! As a Northerner, it’s not a shock that I never had a boiled peanut until I came to Charleston. I didn’t love them right away, but as everyone says, they are an acquired taste. Now we cannot do an outdoor activity without my kids thinking we should be eating boiled peanuts. They are the perfect beach snack because the outside shell protects them from the sand. They are the perfect snack for a baby without any teeth (they were our kid’s first solid food!) Every time we break them out, all of the toddlers flock to us like seagulls and we can’t crack them open fast enough. I can’t believe I just wrote a paragraph about my love of boiled peanuts. Maybe I am morphing into a Southern Mama!
My Northern childhood and my Southern adulthood have definitely shaped me into the kind of mom that I am. It goes without saying that there is something unique and special about moms all over the country. I think the best way to be a good mom is to surround yourself with moms from all walks of life and learn from each other!