Mother: Joann (Age 63)
Daughter: Jesse (Age 33)
The Rhinestone Cowgirls
Just outside of Paris, (Paris Texas that is!) lives the rhinestone’d cowgirls, Mama Joann and daughter Jesse (named after her papa!) They live on a 200+ acre working cattle and hay ranch alongside their cowboy husbands, Papa Jesse and daughter Jesse’s husband, Jeff. The men work together fixing and selling bulldozers, bailing hay and tending to cattle while the women raise Jesse’s two children from a previous marriage. They also shop, cook, clean and help with ranch work. Jesse and Jeff live in the guest house 30ft from the main house where Jesse’s two children and mama and papa live. It’s not a typical setup, but it’s one that makes sense for this mom and daughter.
When Joann was young she wanted to sing and perform so her husband bought a dinner theatre and hotel in Branson, MI so that Joann would have a stage to call her own. Inspired by her idols (think Dolly Parton, Conway Twitty, Lorette Lynn) Joann experienced her own brush with celebrity. She hit the Billboard charts with, “I Love You In the Morning,” “I Wouldn’t Trade Your Love,” and, “Two Old Flames, One Cheatin’ Fire.” Jesse grew up in awe and admiration of her bedazzled, larger than life mama and wanted nothing more than to be in the spotlight right alongside her. So as soon as she was old enough, she began performing anything and anywhere she was able to.
Despite the fun of life on stage, mom and dad were strict, traditional, conservative people of faith. They sent Jesse to a Bible school which resulted in a sheltered and naïve young woman. Bible school backfired and Jesse went through a rebellious stage chock full of men, honky-tonks and an unhealthy affinity for Jack Daniels. Jesse met and married the first guy who paid her mind. She thought because he was a veteran that she found a keeper and an upstanding guy. Turns out he was bad-news and L.A.Z.Y, trouble is that Jesse already was pregnant with him. Twice! Step in mama Joann who snatched up Jesse from the bad marriage and the honky-tonks and brought her and her kids back to the farm and immediately had Jesse’s tubes tied. No. More. Kids! Joann helped get Jesse’s divorce finalized and strived to get her daughter on the straight and narrow. Although Jesse was an unruly child, those days, (for the most part) are in the past (despite the occasional tattoo and nipple piercings that mama doesn’t have to know about.) Jesse is still tempted to visit the honkytonks and cut a rug, but mom and dad know that it’s bad news if she does.
Jesse has never felt the typical, “maternal instincts” and was always nervous about her ability to be a mom. That is the reason that mama Joann is helping to raise granddaughter Shawna (age 12) and grandson Jacob (10.) Many people find it highly unusual that Jesse is allowing mom to take the lead in raising her own children. Jesse, however, feels that it’s the best case scenario for her children. In Jesse’s opinion Joann did a terrific job with her and why not give her children another mom-figure that can love, smother and look out for them. Trouble is, Joann’s word is law when it comes to the kids, and although she’s happy with how Joann parents now, she isn’t sure what the future might hold.
Jeff is Jesse’s husband. They met online through mutual friends and their courtship blossomed while making artisanal bath-bombs that they sell at the Pioneer Days Flea Market. Deciding that it would be better to ask for forgiveness than permission, Jeff and Jesse eloped. Although mom was shocked, she welcomed Jeff into the family. Now Jeff and Jesse live in the guest house next door under the watchful eye of mom. Because of Jesse’s wild history and failed previous marriage, mom refuses to allow Jeff and Jesse’s marriage to fail, or for her daughter to make any further missteps. Mom keeps a tab on where they go, what they’re doing and even how much money they spend together. Jeff recently bought a motorcycle which mom doesn’t approve of, and Jeff and mom have, “locked horns” over the dangers of riding on a Harley. The bottom line, if Joann doesn’t approve of something, especially if it involves her daughter, she will “ramrod” as she likes to say, until she gets her way.
Although Jesse and Joann love each other very much, Jesse and Jeff want a life of their own outside of their mother’s home. They want their own house across the street. Mom isn’t sure if Jesse and Jeff are ready. Because they skipped the “courtship phase” of their relationship, Jesse and Jeff want to know what it is to stand on their own two feet. Additionally, Jeff and Jesse want to inherit the family farm, but that takes time and hard work, especially from Jeff. But if Jesse doesn’t let Jeff work, then he won’t be able to take over the business.
· Yodeling together to herd the cattle
· They wear matching waders and go fishing together in the creek
· They use their safety word, “star” to call for one another if either is in a bind, in a bad conversation, needs help or simply, “misses my mama!” say the word “star” and they’ll be right next to each other
· They caw to one another like birds if they can’t find each other in a store
· They set their alarm clocks to the same time every morning and have only Folgers coffee together every morning
· Jesse goes to Joann’s house every night to tuck her children into bed, she kisses the kids on their heads and then she turns to mama and kisses mama on the head and mama kisses Jesse right back
· They love to wear matching rhinestone denim jackets and matching cowgirl hats
· They used to have matching short hair, but Jeff likes Jesse’s hair long so she had to grow it out even though mama likes it short
· Because of Jesse’s reckless past and failed previous marriage, Joann feels compelled to supervise her daughter’s relationship and marriage to ensure that it works and that Jesse and Jeff make the right choices. Jeff is poised to take over the family business, but Jesse is admittedly spoiled and has never really had to work for anything and she wants to play with her husband all the time, whereas Jeff needs to work hard in order to inherent the farm and secure their future. Additionally, Jeff and Jesse want to eventually be out from underfoot of mom and live in a house next door, but that won’t happen until Joann gives her approval. No one is entirely sure when and how to really win the approval of Joann, not even Jesse.