A blog about babies: the babies I lost, the babies I never had, the baby who made me a Mama.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Introducing Lou-Ellen; or, Getting in Touch with My "Southern" Side

I am going to confess something to all of you. Something that no one else knows. Not my husband. Not my mom. Not my therapist.

I have an alternate personality. Her name is Lou-Ellen.

Lou-Ellen is older than me, around 50 to be exact. Lou-Ellen is a classic Southern lady, gracious and poised. She's always impeccably put together (she favors pearls, diamonds, silk shells, St John suits, and perfectly knotted Hermes scarves). She has the ability to charm anyone into conversation, to make anyone feel important and appreciated. She's had some rough times in her life (I can't share them with you without her permission, I'm afraid) but you wouldn't know it when you met her. And then when you hear about all she's been through to get where she is, you'll think "I can't believe someone could still stand up after a life like that, and she's doing so much more."

Lou-Ellen brings a casserole to the family nextdoor when their wife dies (even though she just learned her husband was cheating on her). Lou-Ellen holds the hand of the pregnant lady on the bus who's having a panic attack over one day giving birth (even though, which five miscarriages in her past, you'd forgive her for being dismissive). Lou-Ellen is the queen of flowers and favors and compliments you never realized you deserved until she gave them to you.

On days like today and yesterday, I don't much like the woman I am so I think of the woman I'd like to be one day (aside from the Southern thing. That's not happening). I ask myself, What would Lou-Ellen do? And I always know the answer right away: the kind act, the generous gesture, the phone call that makes people feel loved, the comment that puts them at ease. That's what Lou-Ellen would do.

I called my SIL last night to give her my congratulations. I'm going to the hospital today in between my dental appointment and my 4:15 class. Because that's what Lou-Ellen would do. (Well, Lou-Ellen would probably bring a hand-knit nursery set and a dozen peonies, too. But I have my limits.)


  1. I didn’t get to comment yesterday, but I am happy you are going for your own sake. You would’ve been much harder on yourself than anyone else ever could have been if you didn’t.

    I love Lou-Ellen and as a Southern, wish I could be her, too (sans the outfit) :)

  2. Lou-Ellen sounds like my aunt Mary Ann.

    Good Girl-- when you can't bring yourself to do the things that you feel are right, call in for reinforcements.

    And hey, being southern isn't so bad.

  3. Good for you! And I love the idea of having an alternate proper lady personality--I should get me one of them!

  4. I'm going to channel Lou-Ellen myself, she sounds like an amazing woman.

  5. Awww, what a trooper you are! I'm lucky enough to have a sister-in-law who is a model of good behavior, and when I'm wondering what the well-mannered thing to do is, I think of her. But she's also understanding enough and human enough to not ask more than a person can give, and wouldn't make me go to no hospital to see no baby!

  6. I like your Lou-Ellen. I met women like that growing up and I'd like to be more like her, too. One of these ladies didn't have daughters and let me borrow her furs and pearls for proms. I wonder sometimes if I'll adopt a neighbor kid in much the same manner. I think I'd like to be hard-boiled and tough, but not bitter. You are doing a very kind thing even though it's rough.

  7. Lou-Ellen sounds marvelous, and of course I too know some real-life Lou-Ellens. They are rare to be sure, but we all remember them forever, if they have touched our lives, for their kindness and grace.

    I'll bet you anything that YOU are a real-life Lou-Ellen. You have been so far, in all your wonderfully supportive blog comments, and doing what you are doing for your SIL definitely means you make the grade.

    I know I'll never be a Lou-Ellen because I have such a talent for putting my foot in my mouth (forgive me if I do this!), and because I tend to regularly spill coffee down my shirt... but maybe I can be Hazel instead: that gruff old bird with a heart of gold. :)

  8. Good for you. I don't have one ounce of Lou-Ellen or anything remotely like Southern hospitality, so I envy your sidekick! I love her!

  9. What a great idea! I hope you eminate Lou-Ellen for the whole visit (in the hospital can you say one sentence to your SIL in a Southern accident just for kicks?).