Arts & Culture

You Know Your Mama Is Really Southern If…

The endearing (and endearingly exasperating) traits and tactics of the Southern Mother

You probably think there’s no one quite like your mother. But survey a cross-section of Southerners, and some consensus starts to take shape about the ties that bind the women who raised us. Whether your mama’s quirks are purely lovable or cause you to indulge in the gentlest of eye-rolls, tell us the truth—would you take her any other way? In honor of one of the South’s highest holidays, we’ve compiled a list of 30 ways you’ll know your mother is really Southern.


Mallory Nall


Everything you owned before age five was smocked.


She calls you every day … and actually called the police that one time you didn’t pick up.


Your friends call her “Mama” with her first name: Mama Helen, Mama Martha …


Your first words were Mama, Daddy, and Yes, ma’am, in that order.


When she calls you “girly girl,” you know you’re in trouble.


You could quote Steel Magnolias before you could read.


One of her favorite side dishes is half a canned pear topped with a dollop of mayo.


She’s not mad, she’s disappointed.


Mallory Nall


You know better than to leave the house without wearing clean underwear—and it’s monogrammed.


She tries to defeat the humidity with Aqua Net hairspray.


She’s the first person listed on the church prayer chain.


She knows three places on her person to stash a flask.


Mallory Nall


You’ve got home training and know what it means.


She sends you newspaper clippings of jobs in your hometown—subtle.


She leaves notes in your luggage whenever you travel, and maybe a small surcee.


You’ve known not to use the “guest towels” in the powder room since you were a child.


She’s as good a shot as any of the men in your family—maybe better, but she’d never be tacky enough to say so.


She uses “tacky” as the ultimate insult.


She ends debates by telling you, “Someday when YOU’RE the mama …”  You know the rest without her saying it: “…you can do what you want. But today is not that day.”


She starts prepping the tailgate spread on Monday.


You know better than to say you’re bored unless you want to spend your afternoon tackling a long list of chores.


From ages two to ten, you had hair bows as big as your head in every shade for any event. It’s Field Day. What color is your team? There’s a bow for that.


Mallory Nall


She tells you that she loves the band at your cousin’s wedding and y’all should book them … if they’re still alive when you get married.


She drinks her bourbon neat.


She puts salt on her watermelon.


She finally gets a grandkid and you might as well be pushed off onto an ice floe.


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