20 Signs You're Turning Into Your Southern Mama

One minute we’re surfing the web for designer jeans and concert tickets—the next, we’re clipping casserole recipes.

Valerie Fraser Luesse
Vintage illustration of a mother and daughter in matching aprons
GraphicaArtis/Getty Images

There’s nothing uniquely Southern about a woman turning into her mother. It’s how we go about it that’s so dadgum entertaining. The transformation can happen slowly, often beginning with something that seems, on the surface, innocuous. Maybe you have a sudden desire to cross-stitch or learn to quilt. Perhaps you can no longer live without a Kitchen-Aid stand mixer or a Christmas village collection. Then you start dividing all of your possessions into “good” and “everyday”—your good shoes are for church, your everyday shoes for trips to the Winn Dixie. The important thing is to be alert to all the major warning signs. Not that they’ll do you any good. You can’t stop Mama—but at least you can see her coming.

  1. You wouldn’t be caught dead without a stockpile of Silk Reflections Control Tops (in Town Taupe), which you buy in threes on sale because you’re “not fixing to pay that price for pantyhose.
  2. You have an entire chest-of-drawers dedicated to Spanx.
  3. You buy decorative pillar candles, but you don’t light them. You dust them. Because you “don’t want to mess them up.”
  4. Every 9x13 casserole dish in your cupboard has your initials painted on the bottom in red nail polish.
  5. When you disapprove of someone or something, you preface his/her/its name with “that”: that Jean-Ann, that internet. (“That Jean-Ann never made a covered dish that was fit to eat, and don’t you dare go on that internet and blab what I just said.”)
  6. You have two china cabinets and wish you had three.
  7. Your covered-dish totes are monogrammed. So are your “good towels,” which your spouse and your children are not allowed to touch.
  8. You address your misbehaving offspring by her full name: Jane-Leigh Caroline Claypool—I find your behavior very unlady-like.
  9. You would rather see Jane-Leigh Caroline convicted of a felony than behave in an unlady-like manner. After all, you can’t be blamed for what she does after she leaves your house, but you want the world to know you taught her to sit up straight and keep her elbows off the table.
  10. Every time you go to the mall, you hear yourself saying, “They just don’t make clothes for women like me.”
  11. Speaking of wardrobes, given some of the get-ups she’s wearing these days, you suspect that Barbie might have gotten a little loose.
  12. You “love a good bath powder.”
  13. There are more moisturizers in your bathroom than canned goods in your pantry.
  14. You believe the Mother of the Bride should orchestrate the entire affair and make the happy couple believe it was all their idea.
  15. You believe the Mother of the Groom should wear beige.
  16. You have no idea why some people consider a manicure a luxury. A manicure is basic maintenance.
  17. You don’t trust any hairspray but Aqua Net.
  18. You have a signature dessert that you take to every church fellowship, and you add “my” to the recipe name: What should I bring besides My Strawberry Dream Cake (My Choco-Choco-Brownies, My Cool Whip Fluff, My Ooey-Gooey Butter Cake)?
  19. You have mastered the art of guilt.
  20. You can throw a killer bridal tea. And you can handle a shotgun.