January 11, 2011

Sweet Peas and Terms of Endearment


Someone remarked the other day on my profligate use of  various terms of endearment.  (Well, maybe they didn't use the word 'profligate',  but I got their meaning.)  "Dear", "My Darlings", "Babe", "Honey bunch", "Sweets",  "Sweet Pea".  If I feel genuine affection for you, you are likely to be addressed by one of these monikers and their use usually implies varying degrees of intimacy and tenderness I feel for and towards you.

But the comment did get me thinking about the why behind it, and the pop psychology explanation for what to some may seem like mere affectation.  I came up with a couple of possible explanations.

In the early 90's, a dear, dear friend of mine died at the very young age of 51. I was 32 at the time. She and I were very close, sometimes talking multiple times a day, and each conversation began with the words "Hey, Sunshine, watcha doin'?"  I can hear her say these words as I type. My eyes tear up at the thought.  I savor those words.  The sound of them.   The memory of them.
The love behind them.

I now have a friend who has become MY 'Sunshine'. I call her at work, and I say "Hey, Sunshine, watcha doin'?"   And each time I hear myself say those words I think of my friend, now gone, and in some small way, I feel that with those spoken words I honor both friends, the missing and the present.  And it make me feel loved and loving.

I have referred here, in these posts, to my mothers, plural. My first mother died when she was 36; I was five at the time, with six brothers and sisters.  While my father eventually remarried, and my brothers and sisters and I got a second mother, we still experienced, and continue to experience, a certain, probably inevitable, motherless-ness. A phenomenon that will no doubt stay with us until we too have passed by.

Consequently, I think I had a hunger for that kind of loving language growing up...from friends' parents, aunts and uncles, the occasional stranger (usually women). The words filled a void and comforted me. And I liked that feeling.

Another beloved friend of mine, who also experiences this sense of chronic motherless-ness, rivals even my own use of affectionate names (though hers are far more creative and whimsical...). In this way, with these terms of endearment, I mother her; she mothers me. And I like that feeling, and so does she.

So, if I address you as "my darlings" or some such flowery, centuries-ago language, please know that it is with great fondness and affection and, at least, perceived intimacy that I use the words. Because it comforts me and I like that feeling.  And I hope you do to.

(This also reminds me that I had intended to plant some sweet pea last fall, but sadly, I didn't.  In the South, it's much better to plant in the fall than the traditional St. Patrick's Day sowing.  Bubba at Southern Living tells me he thinks the early blooming varieties work best in the South, to beat our heat, and I concur heartily.  Find heirloom variety sweet peas seeds at Cherry Girl.com.   To read up on growing Sweet Peas in the South,  I highly recommend the blog  Austin Wildflowers and its detailed information on the topic.


Maybe I'll just go ahead and plant them this spring anyway.  Some gardening risks are worth taking.)



1 comment:

  1. Very interesting take on why you use these pet names. I happen to love when people refer to me by the common ones (darling, dear, love, etc). I think it imparts a certain amount of friendliness and tenderness that is often missing from our day to day interactions.

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