Mama, Mummy, Mum, Mother

When you are cradling your newborn in your arms, you don’t need words.  All you want to do is to gaze upon the sweet face of your baby and commit it to memory.

Sometime later, perhaps a few hours, a few days or even a few weeks, you make eye contact with your new baby for the first time, and time will seem like it’s standing still. You don’t need words, the eyes say it all.

But the months whizz by, and your baby starts making the noises he or she is going to need to start talking. They start babbling which eventually turns into ‘words’. Annoyingly Dada is a more common first ‘word’ than Mama as it’s easier to say. But sooner or later, the day comes when your little cherub utters the sound ‘Mama’ for the first time.

Of course, they probably have no idea what it is they are saying at first, but they do know that every time they make this noise, that nice soft milky person who often changes their nappy gets very excited. It doesn’t take them long to figure out that this single sound can take them a long way.

At some point ‘Mama’ gets refined slightly, and  becomes ‘Mummy’. In the UK , anyhow. In other countries Mama is more common, and of course it’s Mommy in the States.

It’s fine for my children to call me ‘Mummy’ but I really object to anyone who is not my child referring to me by that name. I find it quite patronising, and I remember not returning to more than one toddler activity because the person who ran it insisted on calling everyone ‘Mummy’. I particularly dislike the term Mummy blogger and so avoid using it. I call myself a parent blogger instead.

But I do like the ‘mummy’ stage when it comes to my own kids. I’ve found it’s lasted until they reach Junior school in year 3.  So until they are 7 or 8, they seem quite happy to call me mummy, both inside and outside the home. Once they reach 7-8 years of age, they do start to call me ‘Mum’, or more commonly ‘Muuuuuuuuum’.

My 9 and 10 year olds still call me Mummy in the house sometimes but would rather die than use the term in front of their friends.

My 10 year old told me today that she ‘might’ start calling me ‘Mother’ when she starts secondary school. I hope she doesn’t, it sounds too formal.

What do your children call you? What do you call your own mother?



14 comments on “Mama, Mummy, Mum, Mother

  1. We stuck to Mama for a long time – it sounded more right somehow than Mummy. I tend to be Mummy from the smaller one sometimes but Mum from both most of the time.

  2. Mine still call me Mama or Mummy depending on the specific child. Yet, I can feel the tide turning in my eldest. She is searching for a more grown up word and is floundering. She doesn’t like Mum, she would prefer Mother, but I agree Mother sounds rather cold and stand offish. I have no idea what term to offer her. Right now she keeps calling me Ma! Which I think may actually may be more annoying than muuuuuuum, because it is a sharp Maw sound. lol.

  3. I get Mummy, Mum, or Mumma from the 6 year old, Mum or Mummy from the 8 year old…and od course MUUUUUUUMMMM from both!

  4. Usually I get ‘mum’, if they’re feeling soppy, then ‘mummy’. When S was younger she called me ‘mummy-ya’!
    There’s always a lot of ‘muuuuuum!’-ing going on though.
    I def don’t want to be called ‘mother’ – that’s v formal and we all enjoy a very informal relationship with each other.
    I called my mum ‘mum’ as an adult, and I think that’s pretty standard, no?

  5. I get called Mum or mummy or sometimes Dad >.<

    I call my own Mum, mum but called her Mummy (in private) well in to secondary school – I was at boarding school so we used to write a lot – I always wrote Dear Mummy – still do …

    ES (now 19) has taken to calling me Mumzee – it's ironic I think…

  6. Jacq, mine are little oddbods and they all call me by my name, Emma or more often Em. They call their Grandparents by their first names too. My eldest did it and the other two have just followed suit. It certainly nakes it easier when we’re in busy noisy places; my ears don’t prick up o every “Mummy” I hear shouted.
    As for calling mummies ‘Mummy’, hands up here for being guilty of that! I work with so, so many different families each week and can just about nail 100 different children’s names but my brain can’t cope with holding all the grown-up’s names too so sometimes I have to revert to ‘Mummy’ but I do try to refer to so and so’s mummy to make it more personal. You’ve got me thinking!

  7. Mama pronounced with an equal emphasis on both syllables (mumma) is nice but pronouncing it as the Victorians did, sort of m’ma sounding, is definitely too prim and proper for me.

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