If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy

Southern Hospitality

What child doesn’t want to please his or her mother? I think it’s both instinctive and touching. Starting around first or second grade, I realized the best route to my Mama’s heart was to clean my bedroom (or a portion thereof) and then call her in. “Mama, I have a surprise for you!” She would then ooh and aah, tell me what a ‘good girl’ I was and give me a huge smile. I beamed with pride.

Too bad I wasn’t quite as focused on my grades. The last thing I wanted to do in school — or at home, for that matter — was pay attention and study. A classic case of ADHD? Perhaps. But that was long before ADHD was even heard of.

Since those early days, I’ve taken really good care of things I own, be it my car, home, clothes, etc. Almost to the point of perfection. Early in our marriage, most Friday nights I spent vacuuming and dusting. Russell never complained and even helped me sometimes. He had the same compulsion about cleaning his golf clubs. We’ve both improved in that regard.
Now, fast forward 30-plus years. I still like my house clean, but I’ve wised up. Paraphrasing: I kick large dust bunnies under the sofa, and after sweeping the kitchen, well, what’s a little sand and grime swept under the fridge? Why not wait and clean it all at once, years down the road?
And that self-cleaning oven, well — that’s a joke. In seven years, it’s never once cleaned itself and that’s the very reason I bought it. Honestly! False advertising!

But where I allow myself to be a full-fledged Messy Mary is in my easy chair that’s next to my Grandmother Julia Margaret’s marble-topped table. On top of that table is my favorite wicker tray, which holds an assortment of items I use daily. One favorite is my hand-painted glass with the FROU (Females Rule Our Universe) lady that holds my pens. There’s also a ruler, yellow highlighter, receipts I need to enter for various purchases, emails I need to take action on, a newspaper section that tells us what’s happening today, sticky notes with ideas and phone numbers, a calculator and well, you get the idea.

To the average person, my work place might look messy, but so what? It’s my house and if Mama’s happy, ain’t everybody supposed to be happy? Even Russell has mellowed over the years. All I have to do is throw him a pork chop now and then and he’s happy, too.

But back to Mom: I get a huge grin from her these days by simply showing up for a visit at her assisted living facility. She hugs me tightly, tears up a little and says, “Ann, I am so glad to see you.” And that’s the purest form of love.

– Ann Ipock
Author of Life is Short, But It’s Wide; Life is Short, So Read This Fast; and Life is Short, I wish I Was Taller