Any time I deliberately try and substitute a pet name, in my attempt to adapt my serious disposition and take on that ebullient persona required to pull off those words, my sarcastic guise gives me away. I can’t fake it. Nope. I can’t even get the words out without a smile ruining my best straight face. I can, however, get away with using those affectionate names via text because I can hide my tone and uncomfortable body language. Whenever I use those words it’s like waving a glaring red flag that I’m either kidding or asking my husband for something that I want. Using those phony nicknames just isn't who I am. At least I think the words are phony when substituted for real names in the context of my normal dialogue. Somehow they sound genuine when spoken by someone else.
My mom is my polar opposite. She loves all kids and uses those superfluous pet names without pause, naturally drawing in children’s affections with her warm demeanor and unsolicited but welcomed hugs. She’s a natural around children and missed her calling as an elementary principal. My oldest son thinks it’s a little weird that she posts non-family member’s school pictures on her refrigerator. That’s just who she is. Maybe it's a part of being Southern or just a personality trait that I just don't have. Speaking those words feels inauthentic. And being a traitor to who I am just doesn’t feel right either.