If you are no stranger to my blog, then you must be familiar with this quote as you hit the home page. Attributed to the nondescript, "Babbs' the quote could go relatively un-noticed for its lack of celebrity.
Be that as it may to the oblivious, Babbs has been the word that I have used to address my mother, directly or otherwise for the last two decades ( as I type, I ask my 16 year old alter ego for forgiveness).
Living in the Middle East, it is often confused for the word father, Baba; so many believe that is to whom I am referring.
Babbs is my mother. I am not exaggerating when I say I have never called her mommy for the number of years stated. Never.
It has gotten to the point where, my father, whom I still call daddy, has adopted the name Babbs too when referring to her.
As I started calling her that name quite young, I am sure many of you are interested to know if she responded with the same strict 'I gine lick out yuh two fron' teet' Caribbean discipline for which so many women from this region are known.
She did not.
In fact the minute that we said- my sister and I almost simultaneously, she responded with a nod of the head and an endorsed review: "I like that word... alot."
I am crazy.
Well to be honest, I believe in the multiple lifetime theory, a la 'Cloud Atlas'. Coming here to the Middle East is, I believe an affirmation of this theory in living colour.
Since, I started calling my mother Babbs, which is as close to father in Turkish, Arabic, and Persian that you can get, I do believe that some past life memory influenced my subconscious to call my mother Babbs, because at the time, my father had been estranged from us for about two years.
The closer and the more affectionate of the two parents growing up, my father's absence was the most heartbreaking experience that I will ever have to endure in my lifetime. Ever.
Maybe it was an attempt to fill a void or an attempt to create the same level of affection that I had with my father that led me to look for another title other than mommy that could convey a personal affinity without belying the lack of.
Babbs was it.
Even though I have already explained that a past life connection to the Middle East may be the reason for 'choosing' this word, there is also another far more reasonable explanation as well.
Alter ego, 16 year old self, forgive me.
At the time, Space Jam was HUGE.
In one of the scenes, if I remember correctly, Bugs Bunny fell and hurt himself on the court. Babbs bunny seeing her companion hurt, rushed on to the court to help him.
Seeing this clip, I instantly thought of my mother and my sister.
Again, my mother was not the kind of lovey dovey 'let me hold you in my arms' kind of mother. Far from. But by that time, with the absence of my father, I was forced to get to know her and vice versa in ways that were impossible when my father was around.
I will make an assertion, that though may sound cruel was true for me: My father was sooo much the apple of my eye, that for the first 5 years of my life, I honestly thought that my mother was the bar maid from across the way, who came around whenever. Mind you, my parents were married and we all lived as a family in the same house.
With time as my father's absence grew and became our life's story, I had to, for my sanity's sake, search for some semblance of a parent/child bond.
I came to find it in my mother's over protective ways.
She was very very very very very aware of our scrawny frames, tendencies to fall and our premature birth status.
That reality had always made her nervous for us to do things, which my father had always overlooked and often circumvented her appeals for us to "sit still" when he was in our lives.
Now, with him gone, there was no gatekeeper to her insecurities.
At first annoyed and frustrated by her constant 'doom and gloom' attitude to us even attempting to boil water, I slowly began to realise that it was not malicious.
Rather, she was doing the best job she knew how to protect us, albeit from ourselves most times.
As a result, I grew to appreciate, some what, her 'motherliness'.
Still, being a die hard daddy's girl and fiercely protective of that bond that I had with him, I did not want to use the word, mommy, with my mother because to do so would be to believe that my bond with her was equal to my father's.
When I say equal, I mean the same.
It was not.
Thus, I needed a word that reflected and honoured my evolving relationship with her, all the while, the one that I hope would one day become the norm.
For my mother, I think it felt right to her because, it was an act of endearment; my father had started the trend calling my sister and I every B word nickname you could think of including 'Buller' in front of people.
Maybe for her, by calling her Babbs it was a way in which she could maintain a certain level of normalcy during those very trying years when my father was absent.
For whatever reason, Babbs has stuck and is not going anywhere anytime soon, verified by mother when one family friend, dared to ask her why she responded to Babbs,
"It just feels right."