Yummy mummy, Boden mummy, Tiger Mum, PTA Dragon, Scummy Mummy... for every mum there is, apparently, a label.
I've often wondered what mine is – probably something less than complimentary, as I try to keep interaction and conversation at the school gate to a minimum, generally dashing in and out with only the briefest of hellos in the morning, and head-down, huddled in a corner catching up on emails and texts on my phone in the afternoon. So that'll be Antisocial Mummy or Aloof Mummy, then, which given some of the 'labels' I have for other mums, is really not too bad at all.
Every morning I encounter Botox Mummy (super skinny thirty-something blonde, whose face never moves an INCH and sports a permanently surprised expression), HRH Mummy, (infuriating braggart who, no matter how tenuous the link, will manage to shoehorn into every conversation the story of how she once met Kate Middleton), Posh Spice Mum (copies her clothes and is so, so skinny she could give a skeleton a weight complex) 1950s Mum (talks of nothing but her soft furnishings, 'amazing recipes for...' and who once told me how she 'always dresses up at six pm for her husband'. Spew.)
The phenomenon of school gate labelling is nothing new, of course (I can remember my own mum 'grouping' mothers together way back in the 70s, though it was more 'their sort' and 'those types of people' than our modern monikers). But what IS new is our obsession with it, especially when there's a new school term and therefore a whole new influx of Tigers, Slummies, Yummies and Bodens to stick our imaginary name-tags to.
There's even a recently-launched App to let you decide WHICH type of school gate mummy you are. Developed by writer Sarah Tucker, who wrote the novel The Playground Mafia, all about 'labelled' mummies, the program lets you choose from chummy, crummy, ommni, schtummy, sweaty betty or scummy mummy – to name but a few.
Hmmm. Whilst most of us will 'fess up to categorising our fellow mothers in our heads, isn't labelling yourself going just a bit too far? And really, shouldn't we remember which side of the playground we are supposed to be on as mums and keep a lid on this kind of behaviour?
'Yes!' says 38-year-old mum-of-one Sara. 'I had my turn at hanging out with friends in playground in a gang between the ages of 4 to 16 so I don't need to do it now!' adding that labelling and conversations about labelling amongst mums just adds up to individuals trying to verify how popular they are.
Despite this, Sara does confess to being a bit of a 'Boden Mummy' herself: 'And, in fact, can you believe it, one mother got a bit jealous of my clothes and announced that I probably bought them second-hand off Ebay! Honestly! How can people be behaving like that at our ages?'
Mum-of-two Fran says she knows she's labelled a 'Cliquey Mum' at school just because she is on the PTA! 'It's very strange,' she says, 'Because I have never been part of a clique before - I do think sometimes it's about perception as I think I am pretty friendly, but have been accused of being the opposite. I do wonder if cliquishness at school gate is sometimes in the eye of the beholder, but probably not always!'
And as for labelling the other mums... surely I am not the only mother who is going to 'fess up to having a whole range of secret nicknames for my school-gate comrades?
Phew, it appears not:
Angela, 39, tells me 'There was one at my son's primary school who we nicknamed 'The Mouth Mummy'. She would LOUDLY and in an overly posh accent go on about plans for their skiing holiday/new kitchen/etc, while having absolutely no authority over her tearaway son. My husband also noticed that the buggy she used for her toddler was absolutely filthy. So not as posh as she wanted people to think she was, obviously!'
And it gets even better: 'And then there was 'Bubble-wrap Mum' who took such absolute and total care over her precious, scrubbed germ-free and carefully watched-over daughter that she rushed her to A&E when the amount of food colouring in the icing on my son's Thomas the Tank Engine birthday cake made her poo turn bright green. I had to keep a straight face when she told me off for putting her daughter's life at risk!'
'WAG-Mummies,' another pal tells me, 'All perma-tans, blonde hair extensions and knock-off designer togs. Total pack-animals, there'll be a clutch of them in the corner of the playground passing judgement on everyone else's paleness and high street clothing. Vile.'
'Suck-up-Mummy,' says mum-of-three Jenny, 'She'll make a point of going into the classroom every morning and being super sucky-uppy to the teacher – I've even seen one take cakes and flowers in on a fairly regular basis. Yuck! She likes to make people think she is 'in' with the teaching staff, when I bet that really they can't stand her!'
'Transmogs!' shrieks mum-of-two, Sue, 'At 9am they are in joggers, hoodies and last night's makeup, but come 3pm it's all designer labels, perfect hair, make-up and nails!'
Ah! Transmogs! *Identifies*. Maybe I should add that one to the labels I assume the other mums have for me...
Do YOU label other mums at the school-gate? And what do you think their label is for you?!