Southern women do not necessarily respond to stereotypes. There is actually great diversity among them. Though they share some things in common, they make a fascinating study in differences. I want to introduce you to one of my favorite Southern women, my Stepdaughter, Modern Southern Supermom (MSS for short).
MSS has a masters degree in education, but after helping her husband through medical school and three children, staying at home made sense. She notes, “If we were both working outside the home, we would require full time help. I don’t need to tell you that my salary as an elementary teacher would barely cover a nanny, a maid and a tutor. ” Her husband is a trauma physician and his schedule is very inconsistent. They plan their lives constantly three months in advance. If they have kids’ activities, trips, outings, they look ahead and request with his department for the time off.
As an ER physician, her husband has to work two weekends a month, a balance of day and night shifts, and be available to work up to two hours away (used to be seven) in rural or under served locations. She adds, “This means we function as a family without him up to three weeks out of a month! He helps with everything he can when he has a day or two off. He sees chores and jumps in. He fits himself into our schedule. Sometimes I feel like a coach yelling plays as he steps into the game. No time for lengthy explanations, just get in here and get it done! “
MSS is fortunate that her family does not need additional income. She observes, “They know I’m always here, no matter the weather! I often consider working outside of the home, but the response I get from my children is they want me to be here for everything; meals, activities, homework, bedtime. My work as a mother is rewarded daily. No matter what hardships, turmoil or joy we face, they always request to be tucked in and kissed good night. Even the teenager needs the routine and seeks me out if I forget him!”
MSS was raised in the South, but southern influence did not come from her parents who were natives of New Jersey and New York. However, values were taught, manners expected, and she adds, “People in a small southern town will talk and trash your name if you give them reason. We were taught to be kind, helpful, hard working and grateful for anything we had, especially since Yankee father didn’t splurge…ever!” MSS says that after living in both the North and the South, she’s become critical of both. “When I say critical, it doesn’t mean negatively. I know what I prefer; educated community, diversity, culture, open minded people, kid friendly venues and warm weather!” she added.
MSS never imagined moving to Texas. She said, “I mean, Cowboys, oil wells, vast stretches of nothing but tumbleweeds, George W. Bush…no thank you!” When her husband told her Austin, she thought of only two things: Austin City Limits, the show she watched as a kid on PBS and UT (The University of Texas). Touring around in early December of 2007, she found everything that met her criteria; and the weather in December was “heavenly!”
She describes Austin is a liberal oasis. ” Everyone else in Texas calls us a hippy weird place!” she notes. Austin laughs at itself and adopted the slogan “Keep Austin Weird”. Her feeling is that if it pushes Rick Perry, Ted Cruz and the Bushes out of Austin…then keep on keeping it weird! Her family values education, their neighborhood is full of kids and is multicultural, they have live music playing everywhere from the airport to the grocery stores and all are accepted. MSS adds, “We know it’s a bubble, but this is the bubble we chose. I think we’re staying!”
As her stepmother, I am fortunate to have this special Southern woman in my life and Austin is lucky to have her. She’s a Super Southern Mama and a great friend!