Flashback Friday! (Who’s Your Mama?)
Every Friday, I post an oldie but a goodie blog for your enjoyment. To those of you who just started reading The Grownup Girl recently, enjoy the “new” blog! To those of you who have been with me from the start, but have memories like mine, enjoy the “new” blog!
And to those who were with me from the start and who already read this blog and burned it into your memory, word for word, photogenically, I say:
What are you doing wasting your time dilly-dallying on my website? Get out there and find me a book deal!
If you hate to read, just click on the audio link, below.
The other day, while my 4 year old daughter was in her ballet class, my 2 year old daughter was leaping across the lobby, capturing all the ballet moms’ attention with her moves. Except mine. I was still watching my 4 year old through the glass window, so my 2 year old called out, “Ima! Ima! Ima!”
I felt compelled to explain at that moment to the confused mothers staring at me, that “Ima” was Hebrew for “Mom”.
What I didn’t explain was how an all-American gal like myself, living in America, with three American kids, wound up being called “Ima” by all of them.
I called my mother “Mommy,” and later, when I was too cool for “Mommy,” “Mom.” I only ever called myself “Mommy” or “Mama” to my firstborn, but he’s never called me anything but Ima. My husband is Israeli and he has always called me “Ima” when talking to our children about me. But that can’t be the only reason.
I’ve noticed that all my kids learned to say “Aba” (the word for “Dad”) way before “Ima.” It’s an easy word, it rolls off the baby tongue, like a happy baby’s babbles of “dadada” or “bababa”. I’ve also noticed that “Ima” (pronounced “Eeema”) rolls especially well off a crying baby’s tongue. This cannot be an accident.
For a while, with my son, I tried to correct him. To teach him. “Ima!” He would cry. “Yes,” I would answer… “Mommy’s here, what do you need from Mommy? Hmmm? Tell Mama. What is it?”
“Ima,” he would correct me, “Come here!”
I like to be in control. I live a completely different life than anyone else in the family I grew up in – I eat kosher, I “keep” Shabbat, and I take my Kabbalah studies very seriously. To them, I’m like a ‘born again Jew’ even though I really cringe at being called ‘religious’ because I see everything I do as spiritual – Kabbalah being a practice that, however Jewish it may look – actually applies to anyone and everyone, and is all about consciousness. I’ve never felt comfortable jumping on a bandwagon just because I share a skin color or religion with a group of other people. (Case in point: I was introduced to The Kabbalah Centre by a Catholic lesbian friend and my first thought when she invited me was, ‘if SHE feels at home here, then I’m willing to check it out, too.)
But names are a funny thing. I wrote about changing my name in a prior blog, but in that case, the change was something I asked for, chose to do, and implemented. (“Shana?” a co-worker would ask innocently. “Yes?” I would reply, followed quickly by, “by the way, it’s BatSheva.”) In the case of “Ima,” however, the name was wholly given to me by my kids – with some help, admittedly, from my Israeli husband.
It never occurred to me that my kids wouldn’t call me “Mommy.” And for years, I wasn’t completely comfortable with being called the foreign-sounding “Ima.” I didn’t even try to correct my next child, and now, with my third, I find myself calling myself “Ima” (as in, “Give Ima the stick right now!”) which is something I never used to do.
It seemed so strange, for so long, being called the Hebrew name for Mommy.
These days? Fits like a glove.
“Ima” Sheva (BatSheva Vaknin)