Pancakes, cows, and Mom

My mother is a recovering Southern Belle.  She would still be Emily Post’s only begotten child if not for having her dignified roots collide with my father’s California surfer casualness in the 60s. Years after moving away from the daily influence of her refined Northerner mother and bonafide Southern gentleman father, she too became more and more casual with time. But even though Daddy has successfully loosened her up over the years, she has never lost her connection to her Memphis upbringing.

You see it everywhere in her life in some hilarious but mostly thoughtful ways. One would never pour ketchup straight out of the bottle in her house; of course not, it’s ladled from a silver bowl.  She would never think of drinking coffee out of anything other than a porcelain teacup.  Thank you notes are in the outgoing mail by nightfall, usually penned on engraved monogrammed note cards. She would never show up to a wedding without having sent a gift weeks ahead, wouldn’t dream of letting her living room be devoid of fresh flowers at any time, and never, no never would she arrive at your home for dinner without a case of your favorite fruit, an exotic round of cheese, or an orchid in tow. As a child, I drank root beer floats out of a crystal goblet, never wore pants on public transportation, and owned two pair of gloves by the time I was 6.

However, it is in her speech where her “Southernness” is especially apparent.  Her Tennessean drawl is still alive and well after over 50 years on the west coast and she isn’t afraid to use it to get what she wants… and she always does. No lie, that archetype shows up when you least expect it. She can get total strangers to do the most unbelievable things by simply purring “Oh my, I’m in a terrible jam and I just know you’d love to help me”.  (Admit it: you’re reading this with an accent, aren’t you?)

Further, she uses all kinds of colorful expressions that people from that corner of the world are known for.   Though I adore them today, we would often cringe as kids and struggle with “calling her blessed”.  No kidding, there wasn’t a situation I’d face for which she didn’t have an expression at the ready. If I was tempted to telephone the latest heartthrob who didn’t even know I existed, she’d be quick to tell me “Darlin’, don’t you know a good cow sells tied in her stall?” If I complained about someone who had wronged me, she’d say “Sweetie, just remember that no pancake is so thin that it doesn’t have two sides.” When I’d criticize a boss or a politician, Mom would empathetically spew “Oh honey, he doesn’t know if he’s a foot or on horseback.” Oh yah, I’ve got a million of ’em.

But it’s the expressions she’d say in my darker moments that stick with me the most. When my fiancée cheated on me when I was 26, she scooped me up and defiantly stated “Sweetheart, let him pound sand because he doesn’t deserve someone as amazing as you”. When I was going through a phase of joblessness, she’d continually hurrumph “Sugar, something is going to happen any day now because there is no one as capable as you”.  When I thought I’d lost my faith, she whispered “God’s still got you, sweetie.” And when I came to the end of the asphalt 14 years ago and was finally ready to transform the way I was living, Mom’s unhesitant response was her usual “I am soooo proud of you”, which quite simply helped to change my life.

The way she has mothered me has also taught me what to look for in other mom influences in my life.  I’m not sure I would’ve recognized the powerful impact my spiritual mom Gail would have on me at first if Mom hadn’t not only encouraged the relationship in its early days, but in fact, strongly urged it.  Even now when I’m struggling with something, she’ll ask “have you talked to Gail about it?”

Here’s the thing.  She’s not technically my mother.  But then again, I guess that depends on what definition of the word you use. She got me and my two older siblings in the deal when she married my father and endured all kinds of drama that sometimes goes along with being a stepmother. She went on to have a child of her own who shares her DNA.  I don’t. I don’t have her nose. I don’t have her body type. She’s short and I’m tall.  But she is my mother.  And in more ways than not I’m proud to say I’m just like her.  She knows me better than many biological moms know their daughters and has taught me that you don’t necessarily have to give birth to be a real mom, something I’ve needed as I co-mom my own stepdaughter.

I may not have my mother’s blood in my veins but that matters bupkes to me.  I may not have her hair or her eyes or her ample bustline, but I have her heart, her values… and maybe even a few of her Southern ways.

So, the next time you ask me what I think about something you want to do and I respond with “Honey, you need to do that like a fish needs a bicycle”… you’ll understand.

Her children stand and bless her.

Proverbs 31:28


Sylvia Lange is a Christian women’s speaker who lives in Southern California.

Read Sylvia’s other posts, and LIKE her on Facebook!

113 thoughts on “Pancakes, cows, and Mom”

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  33. I don’t know you but saw your post when a friend of mine shared it. This is a wonderful blog and it made me read several of your others. You are incredible. Why have I not heard of you before?

  34. I laughed through my tears. How much of my own mother I saw in your mom. My southern Belle mom used her southern Georgia accent liberally when upset, excited, or just plain wanted what she wanted. Thing is, my mom was from southern Texas. She was an amazing mixture of dainty tomboy with some brilliantly southern expressions. When you related your mom’s comment on two sided pancakes, I not only read it with a drawl I heard my mom’s voice. And I almost snorted my morning coffee in a very un-genteel manner. Thanks for sharing your mom with us. I love her already.

  35. Thank you for mentioning me as your spiritual mom in this tribute to your mother. I feel blessed to be included. You, yourself, are a “mother in Israel” who “mothers” well others on their journey to and through the kingdom. Bless you for that ministry. You amaze me with your giftedness.
    Happy Mother’s Day!
    Love you!

  36. These are some great anecdotes. 🙂

    I think we could all take a page out of your mom’s book, especially when it comes to thank you notes. It’s such a simple thing to do to write a thank-you, and people really appreciate it. This reminds me of a book I read called 365 Thank Yous by John Kralik; if you haven’t read it, you might enjoy it.

  37. Enjoyable! I’m a new Father myself. My kids are 6&5 and I often find myself looking through their eyes at me and wondering what I remember of my father at that age. Then I wonder what they will take away from me as they get older.
    Like you, I look fondly upon my Parents and I could never understand someone that didn’t get along with theirs.
    I plan on using some of those lines that you mentioned with my kids 🙂 “Sweetie, just remember that no pancake is so thin that it doesn’t have two sides” LOL

  38. Sylvia, loved to read this – sounds like another wonderful piece of your life. Thank you for always sharing. I enjoy continuing to get to know you. Helps me see life around me too.

  39. I just LOVE this blog about your mamma. What a sweet view into your life!
    Thank you for sharing. Are you working on a book yet?! You should- this is great stuff!

  40. What a fun tribute to read, love your style and I love you! Your words are not only a gift to her, but to
    all of us to be able to catch a sparkling glimpse of a woman who has done it right!

  41. I love the quote by Mr. Lindsay. It speaks to my heart. I stand a better chance of being a “mom” to those God lays on my heart than I do ever playing the piano.

  42. I always read your blog and yet I write nothing! But this is really great. As I was raised in the midwest wearing little hats and gloves– under duress, I believe the code of conduct was the same as the southern states only they “Spread it on thicker”! Keep writing.

    1. I love how the different regions have their uh, “ways”, don’t you? Thanks for stopping by!

  43. Beautifully written. So glad you’re blogging again. What a tribute to your mother. I miss mine. She told us to sit on the Davenport, served us Hot Dish for dinner (no one ever bothered to ask what was in it), and told us some things “were closer than a gnat’s eyelash”. Minnesotans have their ways too.

  44. Again. You’ve done it again! You have a gentle southern way of sharing; like your mom, with a little ‘sass, too! I learned more about you and where you get your endearing authentic care for others. While no one is perfect, you got the perfect mom for YOU. God also saved the best man for YOU. Thank you for how you give a picture of the other types of ‘mom’ relationships. It reinforces the importance of relationships in our lives; how we nourish and encourage them. I like what one of your friends said, “Happy Co-Mother’s Day!” Guess I am one of those, too, and I am forever grateful for the things I learn from you.

  45. Great tribute to your mom! Your CD “Can You Hear Me?” sustained me through our birdwatching safari in Australia. It was the only music I was able to sync to my iPhone. Glad to see you blogging again.

  46. Great blog. So I’m guessing that putting plastic lizards on restaurant entree plates with my children did not come from your mom. : ) I am entirely convinced that you embody all of the best that is in your parents. Both of your moms are blessed to get to share in your life…as are the rest of us.


  47. What a warm and loving tribute to your mom! I feel like I went on a beautiful journey with you, the way you describe such sweet memories 🙂 I really enjoy your writing style and shared your blog with friends 🙂
    Singer, songwriter, worship leader, writer ….multi-talented and humble, wonderful, inspiring qualities that I so admire! ❤

  48. This was wonderful! And yes, I DID read it with an accent and giggled when you “caught” me!

  49. There you are. I wondered where you’d gone. I found you a few months ago and love your writing so much but then lost track of you. This is so well written, why don’t you write more? It made me miss my own mom so much who I lost a few years back but your sense of humor comforted me nonetheless. Keep writing!

  50. Thanks for the humorous and very touching tribute to your mom…reminded me of my own mom, who was also a Tennessee girl.

  51. I met you at a program you gave in Rancho Bernardo. I loved that program and meeting you then, but having you write about your Mother in such sweet and loving words makes my heart sing. You are a blessing to so many. Thanks for the loving words about your Mom.

  52. Sweet sentiments! I have been feeling ultra blessed today by precious and priceless words written to me by my children and husband. You have captured so well the special and indescribable bond and influence a momma has with the children she raises. I am so touched by your moms character and charming ways… How cool that you have learned so much from her and express it so eloquently! Happy Mother’s Day to you.. you speak volumes into Mariah’s life and many other women too! Blessings showered upon you … in truckloads!

  53. Thank you Sylvia, I love the way you write, is like to be listening in front of you, before you start singing! It´s so true that our moms imprint our hearts the way they raise us, and we can appreciate the value of relationships that comes along the way. Is the way our great God made us, capable to be all He wants us to be.
    Happy Mother´s day to you!

  54. After reading your blog, I just know I would love to meet your Mom! I’m sure she had a huge part in making you the sweet, caring, loving person so many see you as. You definitely are an example of Christ’s love.
    Happy “Co-mother’s Day”!

  55. Your mom is fearless and funny, a blessing not only to her kids (birthed & inherited) but everyone she meets. She comes from some mighty fine “stock”. You do her proud Sylvia. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  56. Sylvia, I agree with Junko, I just fell in love with your mom! She sounds like a big walking heart, with a little Southern sass thrown in. You were blessed to have her. Thanks for sharing these beautiful words. I think next time there are root beer floats around here, they’ll be served in something pretty!

    1. “A big heart with a little Southern sass”. You captured her perfectly. Happy Mother’s Day!

  57. What a sweet, thoughtful and loving blog about mom. She is all that you said and more!
    You have always loved her through the mountain tops and valleys that life has afforded you and she has been there for you. Mom would say that you have always been there for her.
    Another quote from mom is, “Giving birth doesn’t make one a mom any more than owning a piano makes one a musician”.

    1. Dad, that’s CHOICE. I just may have to quote you. And by the way, thanks for choosing Miss Boyd.

  58. Great tribute to Mom! Happy Mother’s Day…may all our words bring life and love to those God has placed in our care. I got a bit choked up reading your blog this a.m. XO Thank you for sharing!

    1. Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. Happy Mother’s Day to you and your mom!

  59. Well said Sylvia!
    My sister and I spent many summers at your home with your dear-sweet mom at the helm of all of us. I have a fondness of silver to this day because of “her southern ways” shared in your home! Most importantly the love, care, & special made treats after a day at the beach while we were their at your home was so very special. I love your folks very much!

  60. Beautiful! Such a great tribute to your mom and I see you all through everything you said about her!

  61. I’m sure your mom would be blushing and dabbing tears if she were reading this now. AND she would be “soooo proud of you!”

    1. I will see her in a little bit here and I’ll check her pigment. Happy Mother’s Day to you!

  62. This was just beautiful! You are such a wonderful, heartfelt communicator and writer! SO nicely done. Thank you for sharing this today….Love

  63. I am “the Mom’s” best friend. What I could add is Sylvia has been such a blessing to Mom. Her thoughtfulness and beauty have shone through all 35 years her Mom and I have discussed our children. Talk about always being “there” for someone, Sylvia practices that gracious art of appreciation. Currently, some of those “fresh” flowers in her Mom’s living room are the gifts of gratitude Sylvia is always bestowing on her Mother and is a “pouring out” of her Christian love and service with that most important category “Mom”.

    1. You’re another one of those moms I admire, Judy. Thanks for loving my Southern belle as well as you always have… and happy Mother’s Day to you!

    2. Oh Judy…Sylvia is the blessing for MOM of a daughter who not only appreciates her verbally, but in a fully dimensional way that is Mom’s actual Love language….I will draw in my last breath telling Mom how blessed beyond measure she is to have Sylvia as her daughter! Sylvia “GETS” Mom’s ways more then anyone…Love you so much Syl and Judy…thanks for keeping my MOM laughing for 35+years

  64. You are so right… you have more than many, you have her heart, her values… and maybe even a few of her Southern ways!

    My mother and generations before her were raised in the South. I moved from the South in the early 90’s and my husband still teases me about several phrases and words that come out when I am excited, upset or tired.

    Oh, and I totally agree with your mother…coffee tastes better in a porcelain cup!

  65. That is an amazing blog. I agree wholeheartedly a mom does not have to give birth to be a true mom. I know, because I never did. The journey for me to be a mom to several has been one of the richest experiences of my life. I miss not having given birth. It’s the one and only thing I have missed but God has enriched my life a hundred fold by helping mother other children in my 80+ years. God is good and greatly to be praised.

  66. As I was reading this, I realized how many of your Mom’s amazing thoughtfulness and hospitality you have girlfriend! Yes you are Alot like your Momma! Xoxox

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