Just Like Her Mom

They say if a man wants to know what his future wife will be like, all he needs to do is look at her mother.

That can be good OR bad. Some women might not want to be like their mother, but for me, I hope I’m exactly like my mom.

There is something about moms that make everything okay. I’m 44 years old, but when I feel like I’m going to puke, I want my mom. When something makes me sad? I want my mom. When I have good news?

Okay, first I call my husband, and then I call my mom.

But what if I need to complain about my husband? Who do I call?

Yep.

My mom, who everyone calls “Ninny”.

Banma, Mom, Me & Cathy, 1969

Banma, Mom, Me & Cathy, 1969

She is one of the funniest people I’ve ever known, and most of the time it’s completely unintentional. We have always had many different ways to communicate – and not just looks or cryptic sounds. She actually taught us the sign language for “Watch out – Daddy’s about to blow his top” so that we would know without words when Daddy was in a bad mood.

Ninny learned everything from her own wonderful mom. My grandmother, Banma, is probably the sweetest person alive. She is 94 years old and still living on the farm she grew up on, going to the same church she was baptized in, and a friend to everyone she meets.

My mom said that she never heard Banma raise her voice. Clearly, that gene did not flow down to my mother or my sister or me. We have no trouble raising our voice but hopefully we got some of Banma’s sweetness.

Throughout their 52 year marriage, my parents have always been there to support each other. Ninny was a stay at home mom when I grew up, and my father happily worked because he loved his girls and wanted her to be at home with us.

Ever since we found out about my father’s cancer, I have been amazed not only with my father for fighting the cancer so hard, but I am in awe at my mother’s strength. I always knew she was strong, but to be strong enough to care for my dad, as well as her own mother, could easily cause an IronMan to crumble…but not Ninny.

To know how much Ninny is loved and needed, you only have to look as far as this Mother’s Day. I offered to stay with my dad, who has been sick from the chemo treatments, so that my mom could visit Banma for Mother’s Day. But he declined and said “No offense, sweetheart, but I need my Ninny”, and then went on the long drive with her to Mississippi even though he was feeling terrible.

I get it. She can make anything better.

And I thank God every day for her.

When I go to my final resting place, I can only pray that someone will give me the greatest compliment I can imagine.

I hope they’ll say “She was just like her mother.”

Mom, Banma, Me & Cathy, 2011

Mom, Banma, Me & Cathy, 2011

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My Mother And the Middle Finger Salute

My mother, who we call Ninny, is one of the funniest people I’ve ever known. And the funny part about that is that most of the time she doesn’t mean to be funny. It’s completely unintentional – it just happens.

Some people are just funny because of things they do or the timing of when they say things. Ninny is a master of both of those things.

A perfect example of this would be what I call the “Glasses Adjustment” story.

And it goes like this:

My sister Cathy and her husband, Jonathan were at my parent’s house for a cookout, along with me and my husband. Jonathan and Dale have always had great son-in-law/mother-in-law connections with Ninny. They love to mess with her and she is just as quick to dish it back to them.

Jonathan was in the middle of telling us his favorite story about Ninny. She was staying at their house watching the kids while Cathy and Jonathan were out of the country for their anniversary. She was running late to pick the kids up from school but couldn’t find the car keys. She finally found them, jumped in the car, hit the garage door opener, and backed their brand new Mercedes into the garage door.

You see, in her haste she neglected to see that the garage door was already open and when she hit the button, the door closed, resulting in a dented car, damaged garage door, and a deflated Ninny. 2653_57801271098_5312612_n

Jonathan laughed as he told about Ninny having to call them in Italy to tell them about the accident.
We looked across the dining room table at Ninny, who was looking straight at Jonathan. She was giggling but he noticed that she was also adjusting her glasses…with her middle finger.

Jonathan said “GOOD GRIEF, I think that Ninny just shot me the bird!”

More giggling from Ninny.

My husband choked on his sweet tea, while my sister sat there with her mouth open. Jonathan started laughing.

I stared at my mother.

Our Ninny? Sweet Ninny? Did she understand what she was doing? Shooting someone the bird? The middle finger wave? The one finger salute?

And doing it so discretely that no one even noticed?

Not even her???

Until now.

The conversation moved on and we continued eating. Every once in a while someone would giggle.

“Does anyone want dessert?” Ninny asked.

“No, I’m good,” I said. “I’m trying not to eat so many sweets.”

Papa looked over at me. “You’re too thin. You don’t need to watch what you eat. You’re not fat like Ninny………..(enter LONG PAUSE HERE)……….and me.”

Dale ducked under the table in fear of flying dishes.

Cathy again sat there with her mouth hanging open.

Jonathan clapped his hands and laughed a huge belly laugh.

I looked over at my mother.

Who was looking at Papa.

And she was adjusting her glasses.

Don’t Judge A Book By Its Go-Go Boots or Letter Sweater

Today was actually a really great day. Not because anything super-interesting happened. It’s just that my husband and I took MY parents and HIS parents out to lunch. Yes, you read that correctly. My parents. His parents. Us. We went to lunch to-geth-er. Without any special occasion where we HAD to get together. No birthdays. No anniversaries. Just lunch, and we meant to do it.

Most people seem to either really like or simply hate their in-laws. When I was married before, my in-laws and I got along with each other but that was about it. It’s not like my ex-in-laws were mutants or anything. We just didn’t “get” each other. For some reason my FIL called me “Meg” because he once said I looked like Meg Ryan. (Disclaimer: I was married to his son long before Meg had all of that plastic surgery that made her look like a fish, so I have always taken his calling me Meg as a compliment and not an insinuation that I look like Nemo.)

Fast forward several years – I am now married to a great man, Dale, who truly has the most wonderful parents, whose style and personalities growing up could not be on more opposite sides of the spectrum from my parents, who are also pretty wonderful.

For many years, Dale’s father was the President of a record company. His parents met when his mom was working at a record store and his dad walked in. He says he made a cat-call whistle in his mind when he looked at her, and asked her out. They got married during lunch one day after he said “Hey, wanna go get married today?” so they did. He had a big scruffy beard, smoked cigarettes, and wore clothes that were either made of leather or polyester and usually had some kind of fringe hanging off. She wore hot pants and halter tops with white patent leather knee-high go-go boots & big hoop earrings. In other words, they were hippie fabulous.

My parents were equally as fabulous but were considered to be more on the more conservative side. My parents met in college and after getting married in a small Southern Baptist church, my mom became a teacher and my dad joined the military, went on to law school and eventually became a Judge. (That resulted in my very strict upbringing, but that too is another story). My mom, Ninny, wore full skirts and shirts with Peter Pan collars, and my dad was the “Hey, want to wear my letter sweater” kind of guy. You get the picture.

Before getting married, my husband and I got our parents together for a “trial run” before the wedding just to make sure there wouldn’t be any crazy interactions at the reception. You would think that two sets of adults that had such different lifestyles for years would not be able to carry on a normal conversation, but when these four people met it was like they had been friends since birth. They laughed. They told jokes. They liked each other immediately. I was relieved.

Watching them interact together makes me understand that we all have the opportunity to be great friends with people who don’t normally “fit” with us…but ones whose friendships could become our greatest and most treasured gifts.

We went to a fantastic new restaurant today to have our annual Christmas lunch – yes, I know its July, but for various reasons we had not been able to get together until now. The restaurant was called Antebellum in Flowery Branch, GA (yep – that’s a plug because it was THAT DARN GOOD), and the menu was full of wonderful Southern fare that makes your arteries close up a bit and your blood pressure elevate just by reading the menu. We laughed and stuffed ourselves silly on fried green tomatoes, pimento cheeseburgers, sweet potato fries, and Jack Daniels bread pudding. (Seriously – this chef is a GENIUS. Jack Daniels in a dessert? Good grief I love the South). Yes, please. I’ll have another.

The conversation was all over the place: We talked about how viruses can spread on a cruise ship since it’s like a floating petri dish; how to keep those damn squirrels from gnawing holes in your tomatoes; and how my mom unintentionally-on-purpose uses her middle finger to adjust her glasses when she thinks you’re doing something idiotic, silently giving you the bird without you always catching on.

And as I sat back and watched my mother lovingly fight a fork dual with my husband for the last bite of peach dessert with lavender ice-cream, I was reminded of how lucky I am that I have two Moms as well as two Dads that I absolutely adore, and who are equally quirky and unintentionally hilarious. The go-go boots and letter sweaters are long gone and are replaced with bifocals and more comfortable shoes, but the laughter and love remains the same, and I can quite honestly say that my life just can’t get any more blessed than this.

Do you and your in-laws get along? Share your story!

I made the fun photos above using StoryMark – download for free in the iPhone app store and Android Marketplace

And be sure to check out www.antebellumrestaurant.com for more information on the incredible restaurant we visited.

Bailey’s Birthday Minus Mom

By Dana McIntyre      @DanaMcIntyre1

It’s so hard for me to believe, but my husband and I have been married now for almost three years. We don’t have any kids together but we both brought kids from our previous marriages into our new one.

Most parents will agree that one of the most difficult things about getting divorced is not having your children with you all of the time. (Although for some people, they consider that a vacation!) For me, the hardest part was missing important holidays and events in my child’s life. He would spend Thanksgiving at my house one year, the next at his dads. Splitting Christmas day right in the middle…half at mom’s, half at dad’s.

This year, my step-daughter, Bailey was with us on her 11th birthday. We planned the usual birthday festivities – cake, balloons, gifts, friends, grandparents, etc. But as a mother who has been there, I knew it would be difficult for her mom not to see her on that day.

We used StoryMark to document her special day with tons of pictures (even using Instagram to add effects), but we also were able to add the sounds of the party and the ear bleeding result of our family singing Happy Birthday to her off-key. Bailey e-mailed the StoryMarks directly to her mother, allowing her to share in the party festivities.

So the next time you can’t attend a birthday party or a school chorus recital, consider using StoryMark to include the other parent. Bridging the gap between divorced parents can be so beneficial to your kids, and can start with the most simple gesture .

So Happy Birthday, Bailey! Cha! Cha! Cha!

Baileys Birthday – YouTube.

So what about you?  Have you ever been away from your kids on a holiday or birthday due to a divorce?  How did you cope?

For more information on StoryMark, visit http://www.storymarklife.com or download for free on your iPhone or Android.