Don’t call me mummy


On the back of the mummy blogging issue, I was thinking a lot about my “status” as a mother, and the fact that I get annoyed if I am wedged into a predefined genre of “mummy blogging”, purely because I happen to have children.

Am I defined by being a mother?

I’ve realised that almost all things that you do, or are, define you in some way. But it’s the sum of all parts, and no single things is a definition of who you are.

By playing sports – softball, tennis – I am defined as a sporty and active person. Running, training and going to the gym regularly also define me in a way that makes me the person I am now.

I’ve always been a bookworm, and I used to spend whole afternoon’s playing final fantasy on the playstation.

My camera and I love to disappear for a day taking photos of odd things.

I grew up moving through the girl guide organisation, and still retain my inner geek (and always will).

There are so many things that define the me who is at the heart of me. All of those things are things that I chose to do them. I do them because I like them.

Becoming a mother is usually (but not always) a choice. Something that you are, as well as something that you do. Something that you like in theory, although when you’ve got mustard poo dripping down the side of you from an explosive nappy, or you’re arguing with a 8 going on 15 year old child about why you just confiscated all the toys that were left on the floor – you sometimes lose sight of the overall “joy”

Being a mother cannot help but change your whole life and lifestyle. You can’t be a mother partime, or only on the weekends. You can’t take a break from being a mother.

Becoming a mother means changing more than just your schedule.

When I was 2 months pregnant, I was made redundant (it was not because I was pregnant, don’t worry!). I had to face a choice early on. Do I go to job interviews and tell them I am pregnant, or do I go to job interviews and omit that fact, then force them to give me time off for maternity leave. Neither option appealed to me, especially when added to the fact that I didn’t want to be a working mother.

So I started my own company and began doing what I do today.

That was the first change in my life, and that change was purely because I was going to have children. I had to change my job and my working hours drastically in order to be an “at home” mum.

Some women choose not to do that. They might continue with their career and not cut down on their working hours. But even they need to make changes to their lifestyles greatly – they’ll need to organise childcare and contingency strategies. They have to rush home from work and prepare meals for children – or pay someone else to do that.

When they wake up on the weekend, they have children who want to do things, go places and play games.

When the children are young, a new mother can often spend a lot of time searching for information on how to deal with different things. They go looking for parenting advice in the form of books, magazine articles, internet sites.

No matter which path a mother chooses, they can’t help but be impacted by the new arrival, in time, finances and lifestyle.

Having a child also means a different emotional outlook for most mothers. I am a CSI fan, but I can’t watch shows that include children without running to check on my own. The vulnerability of children is even more moving to me, as I can equate things I see with my own. I feel extra protective in a way I never did before.

So being a mother changes your outlook, your lifestyle, your career path, your wealth, or all of the above. Having children is like deep impact on your whole being. It moves your orbit when it hits you, and you just can’t help that.

It does define a large part of you. It defines how you think, feel and act, it changes little everyday things that you don’t realise will be affected.

But it doesn’t replace the things that already made you “you”. You’re still a woman, a sports person, a musician, a lover, a reader, a dreamer, a writer, a dancer, an artist, an adult – the list goes on. You don’t remove those things to become a mother, you add them on top.

Some people think that it’s very important for the rest of the world to always perceive them as a mother. They’ve made it the forefront of their persona. They shout about it, and use it as a badge of honour. It’s like that’s all they need to be.

I wonder why? I wonder if these people had little else in their lives before children.

Or maybe being a mother is just such a wonderful experience that they are happy to eschew the other things that they used to do to concentrate on writing about their kids.

Or perhaps that they find being a mother such hard work, that they find that they can’t pursue other activities at all. I can understand the plight of a single mother in this regard. But that theory works for the kind of activity that you need to leave the house to pursue, and once your kids are going to school that excuse is no longer valid either.

Maybe it’s just a bandwagon that people think that they need to jump onto. I don’t know the answer, but I know this:

I am a mother. It’s a large part of my lifestyle, but it’s only a small part of my personality. It changes me, but it doesn’t define me. There are only two small people who have the privilege to call me mummy. And one slightly larger one too.

So I no longer spend a whole afternoon playing final fantasy on the playstation – but I do sometimes slip a final fantasy game card into one of the girls DS’s when they are not looking.

Now excuse me, but I think I have some monsters to slay after I iron these school tunics.

Photo credit: Scott Liddell

1 Comment

  • Being a mother is an incredibly important job and one which is probably the best job in the world. Or at least the most rewarding. I think we are all defined in different categories, some of which we wish not to be involved in! I didn’t start out as a mummy blogger, and I don’t really see myself as one now; but I was one of those women whom had the choice made for me about whether to have a child, and whoever made that choice must have known that it was to be the most wonderful thing that could ever have happened to me.