This is a re-publish of the post I wrote back in 2009. I thought it was lost but came across it via an American site which oddly had published it too. It’s okay, they gave me a lovely credit. But I thought, really it was time this charmingly old-fashioned rant came home to roost. To read what The Guardian made of it (including comments from the awesome Maggie O’Farrell) you can read the full piece here . The Mail also ran a feature on it.
It goes without saying that we love lots of things about being a mother. Otherwise we would have cleared off by now and rented a condo next door to Jake Gyllenhall.But back to the ‘M’ word – let’s be honest, you spend maternity leave trying to coax your baby to say the word and it’s downhill from then. Once they’re past age five they make the transition to calling you “mum” in an “I want something” whine, eventually petering out to a grunt in their teenage years.
But it’s not the use of the ‘M’ word by our children that I’m talking about. It’s when it’s used to group us into one big happy army of shabby knitwear, sticky tissues and Tupperware.
Here, the 10 most irritating uses of the ‘M’ word:
1. When couples start to call each other “mum” and “dad”, their sex life is now demonstrably a thing of the past.
2. Doctors, nurses, and midwives call you ‘mum’ when you take your kids for appointments. Obviously it’s so they don’t have to bother finding out your name.
3. It makes you feel like your mother. And not in a good way.
4. If you’re hitting the dating scene again, Mum joins up with that other word to become…Single Mum. On dates you’ll soon learn that you must use the ‘M’ word with care. If your date starts fiddling with his mobile, go ahead and pay the bill – the date’s finished. If his eyes mist up and he wants to put his coat around your shoulders, run.
5. It’s part of one of the most annoying ad campaigns that propagates the ‘homogenous Mum’ school of thought. “Mums go to Iceland” not only implies that we all share the same fashion-sense, shoe-size and postcodes but also assumes that as Mums we actually think it a good idea to feed our children a £3 frozen chocolate gateau. It’s as if Jamie Oliver had never existed.
6. When you become a mum, your Google ads on Facebook suddenly change. You now find you’re invited to enjoy ‘free samples for women over 35″ or urged to embrace the Oprah diet. Welcome to your new demographic.
7. Once your kids start bonding with their peers, you will spend at least a decade with your child’s name as a prefix to your title – e.g. Josh’s mum. That’s now two steps away from who you were, and only a whisker away from becoming Granny.
8. Pre-kids, you would look at a teacher and think – low pay, low prestige, low aspirations. Now those same teachers have the upper hand – long paid holidays, final salary pension and a big say in your beloved child’s future. Come parents evening, even the way they use the ‘M’ word ensures you’ll spend the next six months worrying that the only thing your child will ever amount to is a starring role on the Jeremy Kyle Show.
9. When your children are screaming “Mum” up the stairs at you, it’s really hard to put on stockings for date night and not feel like a suburban hooker.
10. Aerobics instructors, gym trainers and Pilates teachers automatically assume you want to focus on something called “bums and tums”. After further consultation, it turns out they are right.