Monday, February 6, 2017

Thanks for Having Me

Well, we just got home from watching the Super Bowl with a group of friends from church.  I didn't really care who won this year.  Or any other year for that matter.  I just go to these things for the food and social interaction.  Now, I love some college football but don't care for professional football......that is, until our little Dak got the nod as starting quarterback for the Cowboys and then I became disturbingly interested in it.  But, when they were knocked out of the playoffs, I went back to not caring as did probably most of the Mississippi State fans.  I have to admit that this year's game was a real nail biter, though, and that's always good.  And then there was Lady Gaga dangling from those cables.......but let's not get into that tonight. 

We had a good weekend.  It was D-Now for Carson which, for those of you who don't know, stands for Disciple Now but for parents it stands for D-Children Are Away Now.  Blair was out of town visiting John Samuel and Carson wasn't here and so that left Davis and me with a weekend to ourselves.  Well, Friday night, Davis needed to do some work from home.  We decided we'd go on a date Saturday night, so I took the opportunity to get together with my good friend, Q, on Friday.  Q isn't her actual name but it's what nearly everyone calls her.  We needed to catch up in the worst way.  We went to dinner, did a little shopping, and I'd been telling her I wanted to go to her parents' house for an overdue visit.  It had been a long while since I'd seen her Mama so we headed there next.  I mean, from time to time, we need to see for ourselves how your Mama 'n' 'em are doing.      

You know how you had those houses where you spent a lot of time when you were a child or a teenager?  We all had our homes away from home and Mrs. Jean's was one of mine.  We walked in the house and, even though a few things had changed, it was still the same welcoming place.  I've only been back there a handful of times since we've gotten all grown up with families of our own.  Her parents were there to greet us into the home where I'd spent so many nights watching VHS movies, eating dinner, and, as I recall, acting all sorts of goofy.  Her mama, Mrs. Jean to me, always fried donuts or baked chocolate chip cookies for us.  Her hot donuts were made from canned biscuits with homemade glaze and served with cold milk.  There's simply no telling how many of those things I consumed in that house.  And when I'd spend the night, Mrs. Jean would serve us breakfast in bed.  I have a picture of us eating breakfast in bed at about the age of 18 and if it weren't so unsightly of me, I'd share it but some things are just better left to the imagination. 

There's something awfully special about old friends who you share a long history with, but the gift of their mothers.....the gift of having acting mamas who loved you while you were visiting your friends' homes was something we often took for granted.  When we were young, we bounced around from one house to another.  I remember spending the night with my dear friend, Michelle, and sometimes she'd ask her mama, Mrs. Carolyn, if I could stay another night and then when it came time for me to leave after the second night, we'd devise a plan where I'd call my Mama to see if Michelle could come home with me.  Finally, after 4 or 5 nights of being together, our mothers would tell us it was time for a break.  My Mama's name is Carolyn, too, and we referred to them as "your Carolyn" and "my Carolyn".  "You get your Carolyn to call my Carolyn and talk her into letting us..... (fill in the blank)."  We were so astute in our plotting and planning.    

I love how here in the South, we address our friends' mothers by adding a Mrs. in front of their first name.  I am currently Mrs. Joni to my kids' friends. While you were at another mother's home, it was kind of like you belonged to them.  They cared for you like you were their own.  (You also knew those mamas had your mama's permission to "tear you up" if you misbehaved.....but, of course, they never did.)  I know my Mama took the mothering role seriously when my friends were over.  She wanted everything to be welcoming, fun, and just so while they were there.       

Some of the other places I frequented....

At Mrs. Bobbie's house, I learned to put butter on hot Pop-Tarts.....a secret that has served me well through the years.  I don't know how I remember this but I loved her mashed potatoes.  She let Sheila and I ride our bikes to the store to get candy and a drink.  That was a huge deal.  And Sheila had a tremendous collection of board games which her Mama kept out in her laundry room.  She'd have to reach the ones on the highest shelf.  I, being a board game fanatic, was just in heaven over there.  They had hardwood floors and there was one that creaked in the hallway so you had to step gingerly to avoid waking her parents when you were up way too late.  And Sheila and I may or may not have pulled the "I'm going to ask if you can come home with me" a time or two at the end of a spend the night adventure.
Michelle's Mrs. Carolyn always had soft drinks and a Pizza Hut box in the frig which was a treat for me because we rarely ate out at my house.  She had the Charles Chips can always stocked and snacks galore.  It was a dream come true, really, for this girl who once could eat whatever she wanted and only grew skinnier.  (I miss her.)  Mrs. Carolyn's house was always a hub of activity. They had a trampoline, a neighborhood pool, and all manner of entertainment.  She was one of those laid back moms who didn't notice an extra kid or four in her house.      
Mrs. June always had the table set just so for a big Sunday lunch.  My friend, Julie, would tug at her Mama's arm during church and whisper, "Can Joni come home with us after church?"  Our big brothers were friends, too, and so Julie and I would usually go to one house and the boys would go to the other. Of course, when the two of us would run to ask my Mama if I could go, she gave the standard mother answer, "Well, if her Mama said it was ok."  Sunday afternoon visits were a big thing back then.  Go home with your friend after morning church and they'd bring you back to night church.  A week or two later, you'd return the gesture.  But, if you sprung it on a mama suddenly at church, the answer was always dependent on what she had (or hadn't) planned for lunch.  If the roast was big enough, it was usually yes.  If she only had leftovers from Saturday night, it was usually "we'll have her over next Sunday" and then you'd get a talking to in the car about not asking her in front of the would-be guest. 
I could list mothers all day but you don't have time for that and I know I'd leave some out.  But, I wouldn't dare mention the one who had to change the sheets after I wet her child's bed and then tried to conceal the deed.  Blessed is she.            

There were houses that were louder than mine. Quieter than mine.  Stricter than mine.  More lenient. There were houses that operated on a fend for yourself system and those which were pretty much full service.  Lights went out earlier at some and later at others.  Some would get up and tell us to be quiet in the middle of the night.  Others didn't seem to notice all the giggling.  Some places, I was more talkative.  Some, I was kind of shy.  But, I always knew I was loved there at those homes. Just like my friends were always loved at my house. 

Even today, when I see those sweet women, I still feel loved.  It warms the younger parts of my heart.  They mothered me and hosted me and cooked for me and I'm sure cleaned up after me. They all knew what my picky self would eat and what I didn't like.  They even reminded their daughter that I was the company when they needed to.  Just like my mother reminded me who the company was when they were at my house.  And the one thing they all had in common, they taught us, girls, to say, "I enjoyed it....Thanks for having me" at the end of our stays.

I wouldn't trade anything for the time spent at those places.  Those mamas all sit in a very dear section of my heart.  For all the times they welcomed me to their homes and for loving me while I was there.

Just like my Mama taught me...."I enjoyed it.  Thanks for having me."               



  1. Oh man do I remember all those things - Sunday afternoon visits after church - and getting in trouble if I asked my Mom in front of my friends - homes where I spent many a night growing up - and all those Moms who were 2nd Moms to me. Growing up in the South was so awesome!

    1. It was so awesome, Ging! So many of us have the same wonderful memories. Those were good times!

  2. There were 3 of us girls that were close in age at church, so it was usually some combination of the two at one of the 3 houses, and occasionally some hurt feelings from the 3rd. We just couldn't imagine why our parents had the whole afternoon free (minus the cooking and cleanup, of course) and chose to take a NAP!! Now I wouldn't trade my Sunday afternoon naps for anything!

    Good one Joni, you always bring back some heart memories for me!

    1. Oh, thank you, sweet Carla.

      Three is ALWAYS a hard number....especially with girls. Someone is always going to feel left out. And I have no idea why your mother wouldn't want to host that every single Sunday afternoon. Hee hee.

  3. While I agree with the previous comments, what resonates with me the most in this delightful post is....I must try butter on my pop tarts!!!

    1. Tam, please tell me you've tried it! I want to hear your review :)

  4. Replies
    1. It was a fun place! She was a good second mother to many of us, kids.