On Sunday my eldest child will turn five. To put this another way, on Sunday my eldest child will be halfway to reaching ten. To put this yet another way, on Sunday my eldest child will be one quarter of the way to reaching 20. In short, give or take a decade, my son is practically an adult.
Obviously he’s excited about his birthday, and especially enthused about the Jabba the Hut cake which I have no idea how to make but will somehow magic up in two days. Every day he remind us that his birthday is coming (and, to his younger brother, he will add with particular glee “and yours isn’t!”). As his mother, I have to say I’m less pleased than about this forthcoming event. It’s not because I think he’s missing his milestones (since I haven’t a clue what the “turning five” milestones are). It’s not even to do with the flipping cake. It’s because the older he gets, the more likely it becomes that I will have to cease being Mummy.
I love being Mummy (or at least the various adaptations of this term that my sons have developed).* I dread the day when this comes to an end and I have to be plain old Mum. It’s just not the same. Mummy is cute and youthful. Mum is old and drudgy. Mummy might get shedloads of patronising terminology thrown her way – yummy mummy, mummy porn, slummy mummy, mummylicious – but poor old Mum gets bugger all. Still, it’s probably for the best. Can you imagine what mum porn would be like? I try not to do so, but one thing’s for sure – it would definitely include the use of Marigolds. Being a mummy is fresh and new; once you’re a mum, you’re a mum forever. It’s not that the actual state of mum-ness is any worse – I’m sure your kids remain just as wonderful-annoying-wonderful as they were before – but there’s no novelty to it any more. Mums are just, y’know, mums. It’s more mature, yes, but it’s a maturity that feels taken for granted. Oh, it’s mum. Mum’ll do it. Ever the Peter Pan of responsibility, I want to stay Mummy forever.
The loss of “-y” is even worse for daddies. Daddy is sweet, caring and dependable.** Daddy provides for his family and loves them all. The word “dad”, meanwhile, conjures up images of pure embarrassment: socks in sandals, bad DIY, appalling dancing. Poor old Dad is a desperately over-enthusiastic man, listening to soft rock while over-cooking burgers to blackened charcoal on a barbeque in the rain. We don’t dislike Dad; on the contrary, we humour him. We just don’t want to be him.
Of course, most parents aren’t remotely like the stereotypical mums and dads I’ve just described. Still, it’s hard not to feel co-opted into a club that’s riven with ageist and sexist stereotypes. I’m scared that once my children start calling me Mum I will indeed be, in the eyes of others, “just a mum”. Remaining Mummy, while it’s not ideal, certainly feels a lot safer. Unfortunately I don’t get any choice in the matter. And besides, if my son actually was still calling me Mummy when he was in his twenties, he would sound like a knob. I’d rather people looked down on me than ridiculed him. Furthermore, I’m sure he’ll come up with embarrassing, ridiculous quirks of his own; he doesn’t need me pressuring him to call me something that sounds childish and/or overly posh as an added bonus.
By way of compensation, I’ve decided that virtual mummydom at least has more longevity. I presume that if I keep a blog I can carry on being a mummy blogger right up until it’s time for me to set up my own granny blog. And for some reason I just know a granny blog will be the height of cool. All the fun and none of the shit. I’ll be an ace granny blogger. I just have to avoid the whole mum bit in the middle.
* These include Mimmy, Mum-man and Mr Mummy. The latter two seem calculated to suggest that people like me do indeed raise their children riven with gender confusion. I can’t say I’m that arsed; being Mr Mummy is ace.
** Unless you’re thinking of the Sylvia Plath poem “Daddy”. I’ve never read this, therefore I’m not.