The Mum Label

On the 7th October 2012 I added a new job to my CV.  A new string to my bow.  And (unknowingly) a label.

I became a mother.

mum and baby

Don’t get me wrong.  I love my boys more than they will ever understand.  I also love my role in life as Mummy.  I love the cuddles.  I love watching my babies turn into people.  I love the conversations.  The kisses.  There is a lot of love when you have two small boys in your life.  There is a lot not to love as well, like poo in big boy pants, but that’s a whole other post.

What I didn’t realise when I became Mummy was the immediate label that you gain.

Stay at home mum. Working mum. Single mum. Unmarried mum. Married Mum. One of two mums. Breastfeeding mum. Bottle feeding mum. Attachment mum. Natural mum. Routine mum. Step mum.

To name a few.

One of my friends has been harping on suggesting I write about this mum label for a while.  The fierce (and fabulously intelligent and gorgeous – that’s right Jingles?) friend who unknowingly handed me the Breast Advice has once again handed me food for thought with this statement

You watch a TV show such as the X factor & they’ll introduce someone as a single mum like it’s something that defines her. You never hear them say this is a married mum, this is a step mum.

The word that got me was defines.  Does being single define you?  I don’t think so, I think the defining part of the statement is that you’re a mum.  Single is just circumstance.

Stay at home mum.  Same thing.  The fact that you stay at home doesn’t define you as a person it describes what you do each day.  Even then being a stay at home mum is misleading.  As you tend not to stay at home you tend to go out, to explore, to find the adult conversation you crave and the Toddler stimulation they need.  But that’s probably just me being pedantic.  And probably taking things to heart being a stay at home mum.  Key word?  Mum.

Working mum.  Again the defining word is mum.  Not the fact that you earn a living outside of your home.  Key word?  Mum.

Let’s mix it up you’re a working single mum.  Key word?  Mum.

You’re a stay at home mum who works from home.  Key word?  Mum.

You’re a single mum because you’ve split from your wife.  Who is also a mum.  Key word?  Mum.

You’re a breastfeeding mum who gives a bottle sometimes. Key word?   Mum.

You’re a mum that follows your babies cues but needs to live on a routine at the same time? Key word?  Mum.

And yes, there are the tongue in cheek what type of mum are you posts (guilty as charged) but generally they are just that.  Tongue in cheek.  What isn’t tongue in cheek is the label that people “in the real world” seem determined to give you.  Determined to pin on you.  You can’t just be mum you have to be a specific labelled type of mum.

How you are a mum.  What you do outside being a mum.  Your relationship status.  None of this defines you as a mum.  The thing that defines you as mum is that a little person in your life calls you mum.

Being a mum is what defines you.

Being a mum is the label.

Not the prefix or the suffix.

Being a mum is enough.  Being a mum is all we need to know.

*the same can apply to any parent, I just chose to focus on mum because that’s what I am.  Mum.  Mama.  Mummy.

If you liked this post why not pop over to visit me on Facebook which to be honest is a lot of photo spam of the boys and me just being me…..

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday
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57 Comments

  1. November 27, 2015 / 10:55 am

    I so completely agree with you on this. When my boys were 10 and 15 I went from being a ‘working married mum’ to being a ‘working single mum’. My parenting skills did not change one iota. I was still the same mum I had always been, but suddenly I had this label and all the negative associations that went with it. #effitfriday

    • December 6, 2015 / 8:27 pm

      It’s strange isn’t it that that one day people define you one way and the next it’s completely changed just because of circumstance. And it’s probably the same people who are labelling you in a different way!

    • December 6, 2015 / 8:27 pm

      Thank you 🙂

  2. November 27, 2015 / 12:09 pm

    I agree, the way you paretn shouldn’t define you (unless you want it to). It is lazy labelling (and pigeon-holing) at it’s worst. Which is probably why they do it on the X Factor – ‘single mum’ still conjures up images of a struggling, care-worn woman. It’s not on. #effitfriday
    Kim (sisterkin) recently posted…Corners of our home – PlayroomMy Profile

    • December 6, 2015 / 8:29 pm

      The X-Factor is the all out sob story, no matter what you do I guess. I don’t see how anyone can be pigeon holed these days but we still are??

  3. November 27, 2015 / 1:22 pm

    I never thought about the X Factor and the way they do that. Single Mums are often introduced that way – it’s definitely a label. It’s all judgement isn’t it – you would never hear: Working Dad Steve said…. There are so many labels when you become a mummy. So many judgements! #effitfriday

    • December 6, 2015 / 8:30 pm

      Oh yes – they never say working dad, just father of 3! (my confession now I’ve not watched X-factor for years…..)

  4. November 27, 2015 / 1:23 pm

    Yes! My husband doesn’t get called a working dad but I am a ‘working mum’. I hate that single mum one too – what the hell has that got to do with anything? #effitfriday

    • December 6, 2015 / 8:32 pm

      It’s often an after thought that my husband is introduced as a Dad, first up he is introduced as XYZ (his job) before any mention of the boys.

  5. November 27, 2015 / 1:24 pm

    Any kind of label is not cool in my books. I hate being put in a box. Drives me crazy! Good rant! #effitfriday

    • December 6, 2015 / 8:33 pm

      Thanks lovely 🙂

  6. November 27, 2015 / 3:59 pm

    I think even the “mum” label could go unless the context is directly related to your child. To use your X-Factor analogy, why introduce someone as a mum? They are a person in their own right and being a mum doesn’t affect whether or not they can sing.
    I know what you mean though, being labelled a mum isn’t offensive, and doesn’t feel judgemental like a lot of the prefixes do!
    Thanks for hosting #effitfriday
    Debbie
    Random Musings recently posted…3 Things I’m Thankful ForMy Profile

    • December 6, 2015 / 8:33 pm

      I love this Debbie – my husband had the very same argument for me that Mum in itself is a label!

  7. November 27, 2015 / 6:12 pm

    Great post. I would say though, as a journalist, that descriptor words like ‘single’ or ‘working’ on programmes like X Factor are often added to enable the reader/viewer to build a better picture of the subject in front of them, ie, the more information they have, the more they’re likely to relate to them. #effitfriday
    Crummy Mummy recently posted…The 59 jobs mums do on school daysMy Profile

    • November 27, 2015 / 6:35 pm

      I guess so. But why don’t they ever say “happily married mum of two”? Just as descriptive as “single mum of one” but I’ve not seen that yet!

      I guess a lot is the added drama associated with some prefixes which are seen to be better for empathy.

  8. Habiba
    November 27, 2015 / 6:39 pm

    Excellent post (glad u were badgered into writing it lol). Dads are parents too but I rarely hear any additional labels added to their title… #effitfriday

    • December 6, 2015 / 8:36 pm

      The only Dad label I’ve seen is SAHD, who get subjected to all other kinds of labels and judging from what I’ve read.

  9. November 27, 2015 / 7:17 pm

    I think the thing that really brought it home to me was the spoof Twitter account ‘manwhohasitall’ which has all the typical ‘motherhood’ questions gender reversed. It’s like, I thought all the guff that surrounds labels like ‘working mother’ etc was stupid, but it just took seeing it aimed at men for me to see how utterly ridiculous they are. Nobody suggests that being a dad impacts on a man’s ability to work, or have a hobby, or, well, anything. They’re just a dad. x #effitfriday
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    • December 6, 2015 / 8:52 pm

      Oh I haven’t seen that I must go and look because it sounds like the sort of thing I’d like!

  10. November 27, 2015 / 8:19 pm

    I totally agree with you. Whilst being a mum is a huge part of my life, and does define me, in many ways, I don’t need a label. I’m working mum, in that I work outside the home, but what does that mean? It’s a silly label!

    Thanks for hosting!
    Karen recently posted…Parents are worried…My Profile

    • December 6, 2015 / 9:01 pm

      The fact you leave the house to work I guess, which is just something you do not something you are!

  11. November 27, 2015 / 9:09 pm

    Its easier with dads. We are all just incompetent fools trying to hold down the fort until mom gets home
    jeremy@thirstydaddy recently posted…The Best HolidayMy Profile

    • December 6, 2015 / 9:00 pm

      I think that’s a whole other rant you should write Jeremy!

  12. November 28, 2015 / 1:25 am

    So true. No one defines dads in the same way. I’m still me under the label – wife, mother, whatever …!
    Mrs Tubbs recently posted…Sometimes …My Profile

    • December 6, 2015 / 9:01 pm

      Yes!!! Though I sometimes forget about the being Laura bit as well as being Mum.

  13. November 28, 2015 / 1:31 am

    Ah, the X Factor. There just has to be a “journey” doesn’t there? Preferably a journey involving a relative who died fairly recently (within the last 10 years), a job in a supermarket or other establishment deemed by the TV people to be “lowly,” and single motherhood, either your own or your mother’s. As all single mothers and the children thereof are to be pitied, right? Then again, if it wasn’t for all these ludicrous labels I would probably have nothing to write about! Great post.
    Min recently posted…Ten Reasons Why I Might Be a Failed BloggerMy Profile

    • December 6, 2015 / 9:02 pm

      Oooh or that your mum was a single mum and you’re a single teen mum with two children……though I get why it’s done I was always a sucker for a supposed “sob” story!

  14. November 28, 2015 / 2:39 am

    I never really thought about this but it’s so true. The mum label in general used to bother me, because I’m me, I’m not just a mum. But I’ve given up that argument now. Lol.

    Although I must admit I mainly refer to myself as a stay at home parent rather than stay at home mum. I suppose that’s the need for gender equality in me though…

    Totally rambling now! Fab post x
    Natalie Streets recently posted…Messy-Me Apron ReviewMy Profile

    • December 6, 2015 / 9:03 pm

      Ha – very true, I just don’t feel grown up enough to be a parent!

  15. November 28, 2015 / 1:01 pm

    We are always so quick to label, I think – in some ways it’s a time saver, what are we likely to have in common but you miss so much when you reduce people that way. And personally I’m including mum in that – yes that’s me but not all of me!
    Cathy ( MummyTravels ) recently posted…MummyTravels’ guide to Amsterdam with kidsMy Profile

    • December 6, 2015 / 9:07 pm

      This is true Cathy, there is so much more to me than being Mum (even if I do sometimes forget that)

  16. November 28, 2015 / 1:05 pm

    Fab post.
    I’m fed up of the labeling of mums. I formula feed Blake and stay at home but definitely feel that it shouldnt define me as a mum.

    • December 6, 2015 / 9:08 pm

      Exactly the only thing that defines you as a Mum is that Blake (will when he is bigger!) call you Mum x

  17. November 28, 2015 / 5:44 pm

    I too noticed that on the x-factor, they never say married mum they always point out the ‘single’ mums. This is a great post, I am not a mum yet but hope one day to proudly wear the label ‘mum’.
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  18. November 29, 2015 / 1:08 am

    Your post had made me think about the labels which I hadn’t really thought about although noticed. Mine would be working mum which can come with raised eyebrows and tuts or worse the down turned mouth and apologies! People seem to forget it doesn’t make me any less of a mum to my little boy and his soon to be sibling. It doesn’t make me love him any less. Your post raises some great points. Agreed all that matters is mum!! Xx
    Mudpie Fridays recently posted…25 Advent Activities for a 3 year oldMy Profile

    • December 6, 2015 / 9:09 pm

      Very true, and stay at home mum often conjure up rainbow spaghetti making mums, and I haven’t done that for a while. Though I should again!

  19. November 29, 2015 / 10:24 am

    You are so right about all of us being labeled about the “type” of moms we are. I’m a good mom who has bad days and that’s it. I stay home sometimes, I work sometimes, I’m married but feel like I’m single sometimes because my husband works all the time. But the bottom line is I am considered mom to 5 kids. #KCACOLS

    • December 4, 2015 / 9:39 am

      Oh Trista I love that! I am a good mom who has bad days – you should make that a meme xx

  20. November 29, 2015 / 1:11 pm

    could not agree more, great post and I really enjoyed it. We are all mums doing our best.
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  21. November 29, 2015 / 2:19 pm

    I guess labels are just a part of life. I just wish they came across as positive rather than sometimes negative or judgmental. I do love my mummy label and am happy to keep it as that.
    Rachel recently posted…Why I couldn’t love my post-pregnancy bodyMy Profile

    • December 6, 2015 / 9:15 pm

      Totally agree, positive labels would be fantastic, it’s just most labels seem derogatory x

  22. November 29, 2015 / 3:53 pm

    Great post, Laura and so very true. I do not think people do it only to mums, I remember when I first moved to NI I was called by a girl I had just met “a lady of leisure” as I wasn’t working at the time. People like to label and classify others and many times this need does not stream from anything other that a need to put down, in my opinion.xx
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    • December 4, 2015 / 7:52 am

      Oh yes, the lady of leisure statement. Grrrrrr.

      I wouldn’t mind if people were labelling positivitly, so the lady who is determined and hard working to make her business a success. Or the mum who is so wonderfully crafty I love going over to her house to join in. But so often they aren’t as you say.

    • December 4, 2015 / 7:50 am

      That’s true. That is the only label you need x

  23. November 29, 2015 / 11:12 pm

    great post and I completely agree. I hadn’t really thought about the ‘single mum’ being mentioned over ‘married mum’ and it is so unnecessary #KCACOLA

    • December 4, 2015 / 7:50 am

      It was only when it was pointed out to me that I realised that I was never referred to as “married” mum of two just mum of two x

  24. December 2, 2015 / 3:01 pm

    I completely agree, being a mum is the label! all I hear all day is mum, mum, mummy, mum, mama, haha it’s neverending. I am defined by lots of different roles in my life but I don’t think being a stay at home mum should be part of the label, I volunteer, I play sports we do games, activities and lots of other things, we don’t just stay at home. I hate it when people try to define us!

    #KCACOLS
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    • December 2, 2015 / 7:36 pm

      Muuuummmmmmmmmeeeeeeeeeeeee. All. Day. Long. But I’m more than that and you’re right it isn’t the stay at home portion that defines me. It’s just where I spend my day!

  25. Claire at Tin Box Traveller
    December 2, 2015 / 10:31 pm

    The frustrating thing about shows like the X Factor labelling someone as a single mum is that it’s usually in order to make people feel sorry for the contestant. I expect there’s plenty of single mums out there who hate this. Labels are used to try to simplify things and make it easier for us to understand who everyone is. In reality they can be confusing #KCACOLS

    • December 3, 2015 / 7:11 am

      Exactly! This is why my friend has been ranting to me about it. It gets even more violin-y when they say single teenage mum, bet they hate that even more!

  26. December 5, 2015 / 3:22 pm

    Oh I love this Laura!! You are completely right!! These are just labels as at the end of the day we are all just loving, caring mums that want the best for our children. Doesn’t really matter if we are single, if we work full time, if we are a SAHM, etc.. we are all just MUMS!!! I’m a SAHM because of the circumstances but my life it is not just that!! I’m a little bit of everything!! Thanks so much for sharing this at #KCACOLS. I’m so happy to have you again this week!! 🙂
    A Moment with Franca recently posted…London Ethnic at the Houses of ParliamentMy Profile

  27. February 2, 2016 / 10:47 pm

    Great post. This concept is kinda what led me to name my blog Someone’s Mum. At first being labelled a mum can be overwhelming, then annoying if that’s what people see first. But then I learned to accept it and am happy to be labelled, I think – with some reservations! I wrote about it in my post ‘Being Someone’s Mum’. Enjoyed reading 🙂

  28. February 18, 2016 / 11:52 am

    Interesting reflections. In our lives we have many roles, child, sister, friend, wife, employee and many more. It can be a big pressure to live up to. we can just choose to be ourselves despite the labels. You are unique with your own gifts and talents and you have a beautiful journey ahead of you!

  29. February 18, 2016 / 7:08 pm

    I completely agree with all of this. I am a ‘married mum’ that ‘stays at home’. Both of those titles gives people an instant assumption about me. There are the assumptions that I am a sponger living off my husband, the assumptions that I sit around all day watching Jeremy Kyle. The real me is neither of those things, but I refuse point blank to correct anyone. They can think what they like, my kids and I know what ‘type’ of mum I am, and that’s all that matters to me xx
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