Feb 24 2015


Sweet Tea

Image courtesy of Raphael Pinto at FreeImages.com

I’m Southern born and Southern bred. Although I’m not the diva of southern belles (for the love of God, don’t ask me to cook or play hostess), there is much of my southern culture that I embrace. I love fried chicken and sweet tea, and if Lynyrd Skynyrd starts singing “Sweet Home Alabama” to me, you can bet I’m going to crank the volume up loud enough for the car next to me to enjoy. But nothing epitomizes the South to me more than the movie Steel Magnolias. Each time I watch it, I swell with Southern pride and think to myself how I’m that kind of woman, a steel magnolia. After all, I’ve been through some rough times myself, and look at me. I can handle stuff. Bring it on, world; hear me roar. And then the movie wears off, and I’m left with real life staring me in the face. That magnolia wilts, and the steel fades. Recently, in fact, this mama felt like she had no steel whatsoever. Steel implies strength, and I was fresh out.

It was the night before a business trip that would require me to be away from my son for five nights. I have had to leave him before but rarely for that long. He’s six. Leaving him at all is hard, but five days seemed like an eternity. He was already with his dad for the night because I was flying out early the next morning, so I was cleaning up the house and missing him already. The first thing I noticed was a Chutes and Ladders game in the floor from where we had played earlier. He wanted the game pawns to be cooler, so we taped a couple of Skylander characters to them that he had colored. Looking down at those game pieces made me cry.photo (2)

Seriously, people. I cried over Chutes and Ladders men. (Did I actually say “hear me roar” earlier?)

I busied myself with other things, but all I could do was think about how badly I already missed him, and I hadn’t even left town yet. I thought to myself, Steel Magnola–what a joke. I even made a post on my personal Facebook page that said: “Southern moms are supposed to be steel magnolias, right?… I’m not even out of town yet, and I’m crying…. No steel here.” Then a comment from my cousin changed my perspective entirely. He said that there is steel there; it’s what enables me to go on my business trip despite the mama’s heart that wants to stay home.

I cried more. I remembered that it’s for my little man that I work in the first place. Then I read a quote by author, Michael Cheshire, that helped me find a little more steel: Love provides for those it holds dear. True love has an ability to grow a backbone and take a hit.” So that’s what I did. I grew a backbone, and I took the hit of being away in order to provide for him because I love him.

Image courtesy of bdopudja at FreeImages.com

Image courtesy of bdopudja at FreeImages.com

Magnolias definitely have a soft side. Their blooms are bold but beautiful. They are fragrant and come in white, yellow, pink, red and purple (girly colors, wouldn’t you say?). The Steel Magnolias’ theme certainly doesn’t ignore the feminine side of a lady, but it’s the blend with backbone that makes the story remarkable. And it’s that same blend that makes us, as women, extraordinary as well. The mix is why I can hang with the big boys in a corporate world and still cry over the memory of a Chutes and Ladders game.

Hear me roar…that’s the steel.

Hear me cry…that’s the magnolia.

You don’t have to be a Southern mama to be a steel magnolia. For that matter, you don’t even have to be a mom. You just have to love enough to push through and do the best you can when it gets tough. Maybe you are a single mom like me, or perhaps it just requires two incomes, and you go to work when you’d rather be home with your little one. Perhaps you’re the primary caregiver for someone battling an illness, and you’re so ragged you feel like you can’t go on another day, but somehow you do. If you’re at the end of your rope, in a puddle of your own tears, but you determine to get out of bed again tomorrow, guess what? You, my friend, are a steel magnolia. Embrace both the strength of the backbone and the softness of the bloom. It’s the two together that make you remarkable.

From the heart of Dixie Mama…always say grace.



  1. Hayley Cranfield

    Uncle Randy, I have added an email subscription feature. You will now see it in the right column. Thank you so much for the encouragement. I appreciate it more than you know!

  2. Uncle Randy

    Girl, I’ve always been proud of you.
    I love you and miss you.
    I just found this site.
    Wow, can you write!
    I’m even more proud than I was!
    Is there a way for me to subscribe via email?
    I hate all of the social media, (MyFace or Spacebook, or Twiddle, or Pinetree), If that’s the only way to participate forget about me. But I don’t ever want to miss anything you feel like sharing with the world again. Maybe you could just copy me in an email.
    Keith Clan Motto
    “Veritas Vincit”
    Truth Conquers

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