Please Stop Referring To Women As 'Mum' After They've Had Kids

Can we all at least agree it's a little bit weird?
rudi_suardi via Getty Images

There is an odd occurrence that sometimes happens after you have kids where, all of a sudden, other adults think it’s now totally normal to refer to you as ‘mum’ – sometimes they’ll even stretch to ‘mummy’. Cue your toes curling into oblivion.

They don’t refer to you as mum in the “go fetch that for your mummy” way, where someone might speak to your little one and refer to you by this name so your child understands who they’re talking about – more that some people use the term instead of your name when speaking to you.

It’s happened to me (I hated it) – and it seems I’m not the only one who’s got an aversion to being called this, whether by colleagues, health professionals or strangers in the park.

In fact, someone recently took to Reddit’s ‘Beyond The Bump’ thread to ask whether anyone else is bothered by this rather bizarre phenomenon.

“I’m talking about when people (parents, in-laws, friends, strangers in the store, anyone other than your kids) call you mom, momma, or (cringiest of all) mommy now that you happen to be a mother. Shit makes my skin crawl,” they wrote.

“No, I’m not your mommy. Do not baby-talk to me. That’s weird and cringe. I’m a person, you know. I have a name.”

And it would appear that, yes, lots of mothers find it very annoying too.

“Hate it. Hate it. Hate it. I’m a mom. I’m not your mom. We hear so many women say that they feel like their identities are erased after becoming mothers, and I feel like this is a small part of it,” wrote Reddit user ostentia.

“Unless we’re talking about my child in a very specific context (‘there’s mommy!’ or something), I have an actual name, and I want it used.”

Another added: “Nope. Dislike. Super awkward. Unless it’s like, hey! Mom! Kid needs you asap! And they don’t otherwise know my name/can’t get my attention.”

Loss of identity is something a large number of mums – 62%, according to a survey by Peanut – struggle with after having kids. So having your name erased in the process? Yes, it doesn’t always sit well – even if it’s coming from a well-meaning place.

As one person explained: “I think it magnifies the feeling that you’re losing your own storyline. It’s as if you’re no longer your own person but just an NPC [non-playable character] in your child’s life.”

Some people even revealed how others started calling them “mama” way before they’d even given birth. “I find it weird that people started calling me mama after finding out I’m pregnant,” said Reddit user Fasheesha.

“I feel the same way. I hate it. The worst was when my HR director started calling me ‘mommy’ at work after I announced. Ma’am I am a professional, please stop,” another parent added.

It’s pretty common for health professionals to call you “mum” instead of your name – understandable as they don’t have time to learn every parent’s name, but jarring and a bit weird all the same.

And it seems even in the workplace, you’re not safe. “The first day I came back to work after my maternity leave ended, my manager said ‘Welcome back mommy’ and I just died inside,” added another parent.

For trans dads, calling them “mum” is also problematic – for obvious reasons. “I hate it because I’m not a woman. I’m a trans guy. I’m not mommy, I’m papa. So really all they’re doing is being inappropriate and confusing my kids,” said Reddit user papadiaries.

That’s not to say everyone is against it though. The Reddit thread unearthed some mums who don’t mind being referred to in that way – and in fact, some find it endearing.

“It’s a term of endearment, not something to get worked up over,” said one commenter.

“I LOVE being called mama, it’s like a way of acknowledging what I’m going through but the topic is about something completely different (work, skiing, etc),” said another.

“I don’t mind it. In many cases I actually find it cute,” added another parent. “But then I’m also part of a culture we’re we call our elders aunty and uncle as a sign of respect."

Have you been called ‘mum’ by someone who’s not your child? How did you feel about it? Let us know in the comments below.