Y’all ever heard of being madder than a wet hen? Surely as the sun will rise if you’re from the South you heard words like those when momma wasn’t happy. Our soulful sayings are plentiful here in the South, and if you’re new to these woods, you’re probably getting introduced to this unique culture rather quickly.
Momma wasn’t one to lose her temper until us kids provoked her. And we sure did. Sass-talking daughters who ruin white dresses making mud pies were just the kind to get under her skin. It’s a wonder she didn’t run for the hills of Georgia to escape the mayhem we brought into her house after a day of being wild and free outside. I remember one instance where a borrowed skillet tied to a rope lost its metal handle after being hauled up and down my treehouse one too many a time, and Momma about flew off her own handle. She always cooled off shortly after though, and as I look back, she had the patience of God, that woman.
These days, I’ve raised my share of dogs, and am still learning (er, failing) daily in an attempt to raise my children to be confident individuals who care for others more than themselves. Parenthood is something no one can quite prepare you for. Sure, you receive your portion of advice during baby showers and unsolicited from old ladies in the grocery, but it doesn’t amount to a hill of beans when you’re in the moment and things have gone cattywampus. I’m no expert, but here’s what I’ve learned along the journey.
- Things will go sideways.
Even the greatest of plans don’t quite rise as well as grandma’s dinner rolls used to. Coming from a person who spent years trying to replicate her recipe, I’ve learned the hard way. Life has a way of throwing enough curveballs to instill humility like no parent ever could.
- Sometimes that dog won’t hunt.
You ever heard of a hunting dog afraid of the sound of gunshots? Sometimes that dog just wasn’t made for it. And if I’d learn to be content with whatever that dog has to contribute rather than trying to force him like unripened blackberries through a sieve, life would be far less messy.
- Britches aren’t made to fit that tight.
Youth has a way of blinding us to the truth. We get a bit too big for our britches at times, and honey, too tight pants just aren’t becoming. The faster one learns from her elders, the faster she’ll blossom into maturity. But don’t blame me for earning those gray strands on your noggin as your wisdom develops.
- Never underestimate the power of the command “Sit.”
If promised a bowl of my Momma’s chicken and dumplings, I’d sit for three days if asked to. We’re creatures of habit, and when a treat is promised for a good deed, most of us’ll take it. They say you can’t create motivation in a person, so I’ll assume my cravings for comfort food must be so deeply ingrained that it’s become hereditary.
- Dogs and kids really do pair like a fine wine and cheese.
Entirely different, but somehow able to fill the soul in ways each other can’t, kids and dogs bring incredible contentment to life. Child rearing and dog raisin’ sometimes take years to develop their own distinct flavor, but when they do, the finish is long and brilliantly individual. No child is the same; no dog is the same. Don’t go into it expecting the training to be the same either. But over time, I’m finding that each creates for us an experience in life that is undeniably unique. Smell, swish, taste, and savor each moment.
Let’s be honest for a hot second. My dogs aren’t perfectly trained. They dig holes in the backyard when I’m not looking, they hide suspiciously around the corner of the kitchen while I’m cooking to lick the drippings off the bowl, and they bark at the delivery man on occasion. And just as my dogs, my kids are far from perfect as well. Life with children and dogs isn’t always easy, and sometimes, quite frankly, tastes a bit like a crabapple confused with a golden delicious. But in the end, my hope is that this simple life here in the South brings them joy and fulfillment like no other place does for me. May my dogs be undeniably happy living life alongside me here in the South, and may my children open their eyes and explore the world with curiosity and satisfaction.