This was Granny’s exclamation for a myriad of things, but normally it was a good indication she was engaging in her favorite pastime of judging.
No doubt about it, Granny judged everything.
This particular moment, Granny was sitting on her throne and meting out her sentence.
“She oughta be ashamed of herself! Calling herself a mother!”
I can’t remember who Granny was referring to — could have been a slew of women — but the Redhead Prime was not impressed by some woman’s parenting skills.
“What did she do?” I wanted to know.
Granny made a disapproving grunt. “She’s letting that youngun of hers do whatever they want, that’s what.”
To me, this did not sound like a bad thing.
My childhood was shrouded in boundaries and rules.
I couldn’t spend the night with someone unless Granny and Mama had known at least three generations of their family; depending on what they knew, that may veto the plans as well.
I couldn’t go on school trips.
I had to stick to my curfew, had to let them know the minute there was a change in my plans that would cause a change in my whereabouts.
It was exhausting.
To the point, by the time I was around 15, it was just easier to stay home and read.
But this mother apparently was letting her kids run wild like a pack of cheetahs.
Granny was quick to share her opinion, along with the perfunctory, “Well, you can let your children do whatever you please; but we don’t let Sudie do that sort of nonsense.”
No, I didn’t get to enjoy any nonsense at all.
Mama may have agreed with some of Granny’s opinions, but she’s far too genteel to sit in judgement condemning folks. She usually repeated the mantra of “there but by the grace of God go I.”
“They’re a parent. They don’t need to be doing that,” Granny declared.
“You don’t know their circumstances,” my mama reminded her.
Granny gave that grunt again.
“Jean, let me tell you something. I ain’t gotta know the circumstances. I know they ain’t around like they need to be and that kid is running buck wild and about to get in trouble.”
Trouble didn’t have to mean anything with the law either.
Mama sighed slowly, drawing on her cigarette.
She still had too much compassion and empathy to dare to speak negatively of another parent.
Mama was a single parent herself, in a sea of nuclear families, and she knew she was judged.
She was divorced. Her ex-husband, my father, was Persian. She worked nights, and if she could get holiday pay or anything extra, she did since she was paying for private school all on her own. And she was not one to participate in PTA or Tupperware parties, so she didn’t exactly fit in with the other moms.
She knew people may very well be judging her. So she didn’t judge anyone else.
But Granny judged enough for both of them.
“I wouldn’t do it, and you wouldn’t either, Jean. So it’s wrong.”
“Mama, like I said, you don’t know the circumstances, so you have no right to judge them.”
Granny didn’t need anyone’s permission.
“I’ll judge ‘em if I want to,” she insisted. “It ain’t right and you know it.”
Granny shouldn’t have been so quick to rush to judgement, but it’s what so many people do.
Most mothers not only judge their own job performance; they compare themselves to other mothers and usually feel like they are coming up short for whatever reason.
I was floored when Mama recently said she feels like she didn’t give me a good life growing up.
Other than the fact she tried to put me in a protective Mama bubble, I feel like I had a pretty golden childhood.
No, we weren’t rich, but Mama made sure I had everything I needed and most of what I wanted — within reason.
She sacrificed her own wants to make sure I had mine.
She may have missed a few piano recitals, and didn’t make it to every choir performance I had; usually, she was working.
She was there when it really mattered though.
I knew then, as I do now, that the sole person in the world that loves me unconditionally, is my mama.
The mark of a good mama is not something that can be really measured, and sometimes, it’s probably being wrongly misjudged.
Sudie Crouch is an award-winning humor columnist residing in the North Georgia Mountains among the bears, deer, and possibly Sasquatch. You can connect with her on Facebook at Mama Said: A Collection of Wit, Humor, and Deep-Fried Wisdom. Her recently published book, ‘Mama Said: A Collection of Wit, Wisdom, and Deep-Fried Humor’ is available in paperback and Kindle download on Amazon.