The M Word.

can I call you mummy

For while after I got married people stopped asking how I was, instead they’d ask “how’s married life?” It drove me nuts, mostly because they didn’t really want to know the answer to that question. They wanted me to tilt my head coyly to one side and say “yeah, it’s great thanks” with a suggestive and yet demure sparkle in my eyes. Instead I was tempted to blurt out “oh, I’m so glad you asked, I’ve made a terrible mistake!” and then bolt from the room in floods of fake tears. I never actually did this, but needless to say after about 6 months I did get pretty sick of being defined primarily by my marital status.

Of course, the same thing happens when you become a parent. People ask you how your baby is, or how you’re finding mother/fatherhood. Even with you’re good mates you end up talking 70% baby-chat, because it’s pretty much your whole life. What else are you going to talk about? The Millionaire Matchmaker? (horrible, horrible, fabulous programme, very good for daytime TV breastfeeding).

I remember the first time I went out for drinks with friends from my NCT group, after an hour or so we made a ground rule: no talking about our babies! Wowza, did I learn a lot about those women that night. How they met their partners; how they felt about their jobs; the song they would sing if they went on X-Factor. You know, all the really important stuff.

Because of how we met, we had all know each other a mothers first. We had shared difficult experiences and exchanged advice. In a way we knew each other very well, but in another way not at all. Because when you see someone through the lens of only one of their roles in life, you lose sight of the whole of them. I include stay-at-home parents in this; just because being a parent is your full-time (unpaid) position, doesn’t mean you aren’t just as multidimensional as everyone else (if I do say so myself).

That all seem perfectly reasonable. But festering under the oh-so-accepting-and-right-on surface of our culture is an annoying little verbal habit that is becoming more and more prevalent. Enter, the ‘mummy’ label.

There is something very uncomfortable about an adult who is not related to me referring to me as ‘mummy’. It is a child’s word, or at best a very familiar term, and as such I can’t help the feeling that it carries with the potential to be utterly patronising.

You may have no idea what I’m getting at, so let’s focus in on the three worst offenders on my radar:

Yummy Mummy

Of all the ways ‘mummy’ has become part of the adult vocabulary this is surely the most prolific. It is often used in a playful sense, to describe affluent mothers who dare to leave the house looking half-decent, or own a swanky buggy, or still get their roots done, or all of the above. Recently, however, I’ve heard it deployed too often in a tone of sneering snobbery. We are led to believe that there are packs of roaming mothers, all trotting down the high street together, laughing gaily and occupying all the best coffee houses. Bitches.

I mean, really, how bloody dare they? How dare stylish women have children, and then continue to be stylish? So. Selfish. And while we’re on the subject, it is borderline criminal that these same women, who have probably had their own careers and earned a steady income for 5/10/15 years, are now spending their money on expensive baby products! And what do they do with these items – posh prams, smart change bags, all that crap – they flaunt them around for all to see. The shame of it! Vanity, pure vanity. They probably drive Range Rovers too. *spits on ground*

But what’s worst of all is the life-of-riley that they lead. I mean, if you’re a stay at home mum shouldn’t you be scrubbing the oven or something? But no, they just sit chatting away with the other well-groomed and happy looking women, sipping cappuccino without a care in the blooming world (except that crying baby they’ve been trying to comfort whilst holding a steady conversation for the past 10 minutes). I don’t know, anyone would think that they needed to get out the house once a day and have some kind of adult interaction! Well, everyone knows that is nonsense. If a mum leaves the house then it should only be to go a supermarket, a soft play centre, or a play group. Anything else is selfish in the extreme.

Perhaps you think I’m reading a bit much into the use of ‘yummy mummy’. People don’t really feel that derisive, I hear you say, now stop moaning and go and clean the oven.

Mummy Blogger

It seems to me that the ‘mummy blogger’ is very much the second-class citizen of the blogging world. You might say that’s because there are a crap load of ‘mummy blogs’ out there and half of them are a load of crap (see what I did there?). The thing is, half of everything on the internet is a load of crap. Most of everything on the internet is a load of crap! The consequence of democratising the media voice is that you’re going to get some people who can’t really write, or who think really boring things are really interesting. Case in point: your Facebook feed. But there are some pretty stonkingly written, witty, thoughtful, moving blogs out there that are primarily about motherhood.

I don’t think this diminished status is really to do with overall quality, I think it’s to do with a vision that is encapsulated in the very term ‘mummy blogger’. You know, that bored housewife with nothing better to do than upload poorly taken photos off their children, advertise stuff they’ve been given for free and write about little Marvin’s first steps. #LikeIGiveAShit Because who would believe that mothers might take amazing photos? Or write sharp, useful reviews? Or even write movingly about their experiences? I mean, hello people! Baby brain much??

Yes, I obviously write about parenting. A lot. But I’d prefer just to be called a blogger. I’m writing about what I know and what I am passionate about. And every now and then I write about Nicki Minaj, you know, just to mix things up.

Mumtrepreneur

a) It’s not a word. It shouldn’t be a word.

b) Please can we not define every women who decides to start a business by her parental status. No kids? Entrepreneur. Kids already? Mumtrepreneur. Piss off.

c) If you hadn’t heard this term yet then, yes, it is actually a thing. Bleurgh.

As parents, and I’d say especially as mothers (controversial?), our identity becomes tied up with someone else. We begin to be defined as a mother before all else. And in a way this makes sense. I suppose I am a mother before all else. Except that before I was a mother I was lots of other things, and I’d like to remember those aspects of myself and honour them. If anything having Bubs has focussed me on getting what I want from life. I have a clearer idea of who I want to be professionally and all that good stuff. Mothering is a phenomenal, challenging, joyous thing, but it doesn’t complete me. No one thing, however wonderful and life-altering, can complete me. And that’s okay.

What do you think? Do you like being called a Yummy Mummy? Maybe you’re a mumtreprenuer and proud? Or have you been called ‘mummy’ in a blatantly patronising way? Whatever your thoughts leave them in the comments section below, tweet me @aafew or go to my facebook page and join the debate. 

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21 thoughts on “The M Word.

  1. Haha, brilliant post! I have been known to blow dry my hair before the school run, even (I’m looking ashamed at this very moment) apply lipstick. I know, I’m a complete bitch, but I do it because I like looking nice. Not for anyone else, but for me, so I can feel like I’m awake and alive and that today I’m not just going to survive, but have a lovely bright positive day. I think mums who can’t be arsed do “get dressed up” just have different ways of motivating themselves. Super, I don’t mind either way, it’s just what I enjoy doing. I shall now be following you! Em x

    • Thanks Emma! Yeah, I actually used to use the term yummy mummy and then I reflected on my own prejudices. I can rarely be bothered with day time make-up (though I love a bit of slap!) but why should I judge someone who can? Belittling the choices of others is often just a way of deflecting our own self-doubt, I reckon.
      Frankly, finding time to blow-dry your hair before the school run is bloody impressive!

      Glad you enjoyed the post and thanks again for the comment xx

  2. Love this post. I despise all these terms, but mummy blogger is possibly the most irritating. Mums who just happen to blog are quite different and that’s my preferred term.

  3. Ha! I definitely don’t want to be defined as a mum, but I can’t extract it from the rest of me as it’s so all-consuming? I’ll let you know when my post comes out. And i HATE the phrase yummy mummy. I’m not keen on the word mummy full stop, truth be told! Good read lovely xx

  4. It’s makes me seethe every time the health visitor addresses me as ‘mummy’, to my face. “How’s mummy feeling today?” Aaargh! Rant over :0)

  5. Mumtrepreneur – MUMtrepreneur… I mean.. REALLY? I’ve been running my own business for almost 10 years now but only have been a mum for the last 3 years. Should I inform my clients, does that change my status with HMRC? The mind boggles 🙂
    Thanks for the great read!

  6. Great post! But now I am slightly worried I may have committed said Mummy-based crimes, but in my defence, it was in the early days of Motherhood where hormones/lack of sleep/pure love blurred all my lines of acceptability.

    My son recently started at primary school and I have noticed now more than ever that I am J’s Mum/Mummy, rather than Ayshea, but to be fair, I barely know any of the other Mum’s names either. There’s a lesson in that, we need to go out and have a drink together!

  7. You know what drives me nuts? All those health professionals and childcarers who refer to someone as mum, basically because they can’t remember your name. I’m not a mother myself (yet!) but I work with parents and I’ve seen any number of midwives turn to a mother and say something along the lines of, “So, how are you feeling Mummy?”
    The flip side of mumpreneur and mummy blogger is that it excludes everyone else. My business is helping parents, helping them learn how to care for newborns, helping them to feel confident in their parenting choices, or helping as a supernanny if things have gone off track. My audience is parents. Yet every scheme, feature etc only wants “mumpreneurs.” so my business suffers because of my parental status. Not fair from either perspective.

  8. Very entertaining blog. I hadn’t seen the term Mumtrepreneur before though have seen Mumpreneur. I agree that it’s very annoying when people refer to you as “mummy” instead of by your proper name. I think it’s incredibly patronising and belittling.

  9. You know what proper made laugh with this bab was the Mumtrepreneur (not even sure I have spelt it right as IT IS NOT A REAL WORD). You don’t get Dadtrepreneuerursrs do you? No. Bah! I get a lot of stick at my work for being a Mummy blogger. Loads and you know what? Fook em. Do they get free Micheal Ball albums no? (not sure I am helping the cause there) x

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