The Mummy Question

I’ve a sneaky confession to make.

I’m not keen on babies.

We’re running a competition over on Tots100 this month where you can win £500 by sharing your best baby photo, and I’ve been looking at all the entries. Intellectually, I can grasp that the whole big headed, wide-eyed thing is supposed to be cute, but it doesn’t push my “aawww” button the way a kitten might. Kittens are unequivocally cute. Ditto for puppies. Small bush babies, even. But human babies? Not so much.

Don’t get me wrong. I loved Flea as a baby. Obviously. But I didn’t find Flea especially cute or interesting until she became a toddler – once children can talk and express their personality, they’re much more appealing to me than any small squawking creature that smells faintly of sour milk.

The growing up process doesn’t make me especially sad, then. I love watching Flea reach each new stage of childhood, becoming a bit more independent and confident with each passing season. At seven, she’s a fascinating mixture of independence and neediness, little girl and big kid, depending on the setting, and who might be watching.

I love seeing the person she’s becoming – smart and funny, and unfailingly kind – she disapproved whole-heartedly last night when I tried to nickname one of her particularly obnoxious classmates “The Horrible Kid”, telling me, “Just because she’s unkind doesn’t mean we can’t like her. Why don’t we call her The Okay Kid?” 

Lately, Flea’s been trying out calling me “Mum” instead of Mummy and I must confess, I love the way she does it – always with a moment’s hesitation, as though she’s trying out how the word sounds coming out of her mouth. And this weekend, she told her Dad that from now on, she wanted to call him Dad, not Daddy.

Flea’s Dad is a baby person. Over-protective. He hovers next to Flea always ready to hold her hand or catch her – even while she’s impatiently trying to shrug him off.

It’s a typical father-daughter thing, I think, and I think young girls should have protective, adoring Dads.

But he’s crushed at the idea of being called Dad. He asked Flea not to do it. But she’s insistent. He’s Dad.

Which makes me wonder – what do your kids call you? When did they transition from Mummy to Mum – or did they?



Sally is a full-time blogger and founder of the Tots100, Trips100, Foodies100 and HIBS100 communities, along with the MAD Blog Awards. She spends a bit too much time on the Internet. She’s also a very happy Mum to Flea, the world’s coolest ten year old.

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  1. Nicki Cawood
    9th October 2012 / 10:30 am

    Kieran still calls me Mummy (at 6yrs) but occasionally drops Mum into conversation and slightly shakes his after saying it as if it doesn’t quite sound right to him yet.
    It is worth noting that I revert to Daddy with my father if I want something, or Snertspop (he called me Snert from 13 – Snotty Nosed Egotistic Rude Teenager) and years later, with a husband and two children he still calls me Snert sometimes 🙂

    • 10th October 2012 / 8:31 am

      Snert is an EXCELLENT nickname for a child.

  2. 9th October 2012 / 10:37 am

    I spent TWO weeks ignoring Squidge when she decided I was mummy and not mama. I loved being called mama!! I cried. I pleaded. I ignored her. I called her by another name to make her understand what it felt like. Nothing worked! The little cow insists on calling me mummy. I still haven’t forgiven her and it’s been at least 2 years!
    Lindy recently posted..THE AVERAGE FAMILY…My Profile

    • 10th October 2012 / 8:32 am

      I love that we’re not above emotionally blackmailing our children.

  3. 9th October 2012 / 11:32 am

    My baby (who is cute, obviously!) is just starting to call me Mama, which I love. The older three call me Mummy, with the occasional Mum slipping in now and again. I’m fine with that too.

    I called my mum, Mammy (it may be a Welsh thing?). But when I was seven years old and we were writing our Mothering Sunday cards, I started writing “To Mammy, …”. The girl sitting next to me, who was writing, “To Mum” started shouting, “Claire still calls her mum, Mammy!” and laughing.

    From that day, I’ve never been able to call my Mum any name naturally. Now, along with the kids, I usually call her, “Nanny”. When we’re grown ups together, I call her Mum, but it doesn’t come naturally to me.

    I think it’s lovely that Flea has made the switch to Mum, in her own time and she is ready, even if poor Dad is not!

    My “not in-laws” ask me to call them Mum and Dad, but I don’t feel comfortable with that either, so they’re “Granny” and “Grampy” in the company of the kids.
    Claire recently posted..Please help find April Jones by DannyMy Profile

    • 10th October 2012 / 8:33 am

      Aw, that’s sort of sad – I’d hate Flea to be embarrassed and perhaps that’s part of why I don’t mind the “Mum” thing – I can tell it’s prompted by other kids, and I don’t want them to giggle at Flea.

  4. 9th October 2012 / 12:06 pm

    I still call my parents Mummy and Daddy and I am pushing 40! Sometimes, I’ll go with Mum or Dad….my kids on the other hand, think it is hilarious to call me by my first name as they know it winds me up………..

    Brats, the lot of them!! 😉
    Super Amazing Mum recently posted..Super Amazing Mum Loves……..My Profile

    • 10th October 2012 / 8:33 am

      Ah yes, my niece and nephew are very prone to doing that to my brother!

  5. Nikki
    9th October 2012 / 1:26 pm

    Not a baby person myself – although it’s more their heavy dependancy that I disliked than features or smell, however I refuse to be called “Mum”. I’m Mummy and that’s it. Our 7 year old has tested it out Mum a few times and I’ve conveniently gone deaf at that point until I get my Mummy name back. Childish? Yes. In denial of her growing up? Yes. Do I care? No.


    Going to make the most of it too.

      • Nikki
        10th October 2012 / 9:35 pm

        Would expect nothing else Sally :-))))

  6. 9th October 2012 / 2:25 pm

    I have a 17 year old and an 11 year old and they both use both Mum and Mummy. But like Claire who has posted above, I couldn’t get beyond calling my mother Mummy and when that felt wrong because it wasn’t what other people do then I got stuck with not feeling comfortable calling her anything. We’ve sort of agreed that I call my parents by their first names, but in reality I avoid calling them anything.
    Caz Stone recently posted..Hey, are you awake? Yeah,I’m right here.My Profile

    • 10th October 2012 / 8:34 am

      I’ve had situations where I’ve done that ‘avoiding calling them anything’ thing. Awkward!

  7. 9th October 2012 / 2:34 pm

    I’m Mummy, Mum, Ima (Hebrew) and just recently she’s started calling me Mama. I don’t mind any of them – whatever she wants is fine by me. But I do rather enjoy the Mama :).
    Midlife Singlemum recently posted..A Simple Idea – MaryJoyMy Profile

    • 10th October 2012 / 8:34 am

      Ah, mama. That one’s cute, isn’t it?

  8. 9th October 2012 / 6:02 pm

    Ha, I have to disagree as I think babies (especially mine) are adorable.

    My daughter at the grand old age of 2 years has just started to call us Mum and Dad. Not all the time, but when she wants to get her attention urgently. In general she still calls us Mummy and Daddy with the odd Lisa and Chris thrown in in times of great inpatience. I think this stems from her having an older brother as things were very different when he was little. I have to admit that I prefer to be called Mummy by someone so small.
    Lisa recently posted..Baby Comp Weekly 09.10.12My Profile

    • 10th October 2012 / 8:35 am

      We can agree to differ on the baby question 😉

      Older siblings are a HUGE influence – and older cousins too, in Flea’s case.

    • 10th October 2012 / 8:35 am

      Sounds very well-adjusted!

  9. 9th October 2012 / 6:59 pm

    My seven year old is just like Flea she tests out Mum and Dad but still uses Mummy and Daddy 90% of the time. She also tries out Mama and Dada mainly because thats what her Dad calls the in laws but they both tend to use it when they want something in a whiney voice so I kinda hate it. I don’t really mind the Mum thing though, I like the fact that she is growing up and trying new things.
    Amanda Balmain recently posted..Top 10 Best Children’s MoviesMy Profile

    • 10th October 2012 / 8:35 am

      Yes, I feel the same about Flea – I feel a bit proud of her little steps towards feeling more ‘grown up’ .

  10. Lexi
    9th October 2012 / 8:07 pm

    My mum also likes to be called ‘Mummy’ and my father is ‘D’, as my mum has an irrational hatred of Mum & Dad! I also found it mortifying as a teenager but it’s the way it is. Now I’m expecting the whole grandparent naming debate has started!

    • 10th October 2012 / 8:32 am

      Ah yes, Granny, Grandma or Nanny?

    • 10th October 2012 / 8:35 am

      Snigger. Sounds a bit like my house when I was growing up.

  11. 10th October 2012 / 11:25 am

    Rory’s 3 and I am still very definitely Mummy, although occasionally “Mum-mums” when he’s feeling matey. Lots of his peers have switched to “mum” already, which I would hate. I think it’s going to be a real wrench when I stop being Mummy.

    I’m with you otherwise though – I’m not keen on babies either. I mean, mine was cute, but only because he was my baby, and I loved him more than I can put into words, but didn’t actually like him all that much until he was running about and properly interacting with me. Fortunately (HAHAHAHAHA), he walked at 9 months and was an early talker too, so he seemed like a very short toddler from very early on.
    Lisa recently posted..‘Baking’ for slackers: Chocolate Ginger Rocky RoadMy Profile

  12. 11th October 2012 / 8:29 am

    I’m going through the parenting thing for the second time as my oldest two are now 24 and 22. With them I was like you loving each new stage and eagerly encouraging them to grow up and discover the world, new experiences, I loved every minute. (I still do)

    But funnily enough with the twins (4) I have changed to savouring every moment as I am only too aware that in the blink of an eyelid it’s gone, they will be adults, with their own children and families which, as lovely as it is, signs the end of an era.
    Therefore I’m letting my twins enjoy their infancy for as long as possible so mummy gets an overdose of cuteness to last until I’m old and grey and in my rocking chair.
    Mind you when I call out ‘Come here my baby’ I do get the reply ‘We’re BIG girls mummy!’ 😀 so inevitably at some point I’ll have to let them move on *sigh*
    Mari recently posted..Creamy Lamb Masala (Malai Gosht)My Profile

  13. 14th October 2012 / 6:27 am

    I like mummy abnd no ones dropped it yet (and Frankie is now 8!) I love babies s much abd an startuig to feel really broody agin but I’m 41 and the other two ended up in speical care and I think maybe I need to leave well alonge, but oh the thought of not being a mummy again! (sorry sidetracked brooding there!)
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  14. 17th October 2012 / 8:21 am

    My eldest daughter jasmine calls me mummy she is nearly 7, and my youngest daughter who is just 4 has ALWAYS called me Mum, i’ve never known why. At first i was a bit gutted but now i like the fact they are not the same!!

    I love holding other peoples babies, but don’t really find them entertaining at all! I like from pre-school age best i think; From age 4 they can come to Stagecoach (loving Flea wearing her Stagecoach top in the pic btw!! She has been fab in our classes so far 😉 x x x x), and am always amazed at how they have such strong opinions and expressions by aged 4!!! They are a lot more willing to share their opinions at this age til about 10 when they decided to decline a comment!!!!!! x KateP x x ps i could get used to this blogging thing! x x x xx

  15. 20th October 2012 / 8:18 pm

    thought provoking post. Have to say I’m not quite ready to be a ‘mum.’ When my five year old tests the water I respond by abbreviating his name too – and he hates it! Meanwhile, my two year old daughter has taken to calling me Becky. Charming.
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