I am a sole parent to an 11-year-old child – so most of the time at home, it’s just the two of us. So why he feels he needs to preface every sentence with “Mum” is beyond me. Don’t get me wrong – this child is my world – but the use of the word mum to get my attention at the start of every single sentence when there is literally no one else in the room/car/at the table irritates me for some unknown reason.
Maybe it’s because it signals he wants my full attention, which I give him 90 percent of the time, but seriously, I’ve gotta save some brain space for myself occasionally. Sometimes, I get so sick of hearing the word “Mum” 759 million times a day, I actually invite my kid to call me Nama. Which, for some inexplicable reason, is less grating.
If you are thinking I am heartless, and an ungrateful mother, I don’t blame you. I find it bemusing, too. I went through three cycles of IVF to get this kid. He’s the best thing I’ve ever done, my greatest achievement, my whole purpose in life, and the best thing that’s ever happened to me.
But, as I sometimes have to explain to him, “Honey, call me ‘mum’ one last time, and I will go insane.”
So he calls me Mother, or Mummy, or even my Mother Dearest (yes, like “Mommy Dearest”), which doesn’t annoy me at all – which leads me to conclude it might be about the repetition. And obviously, that’s what it is – because why else would I have a physical reaction to hearing my actual title used when speaking to me by the only person allowed to use it?
That’s why when my kid calls me Nama, I love it. He sounds like one of my mates when he does it – which is pretty much what he is. He’s my little best mate.
Interested to know if I’m the only mum out there who thinks like this – suspecting that surely, I should have nothing to complain about, considering it is only one child and not 29 like some of my friends – I put it to Mamamia‘s Facebook parenting group The Motherish, to see what they had to say.
I opened up the topic a bit, to see what the status quo was about Aunt/Uncle and Mr/Mrs as titles of adult friends, too, as the popularity of that seems to be diminishing.
There were lots of opinions on the topic, and the discussion can be broken down like this:
Yes - you can use first names for other adults - but not for me.
"Since I’ve had kids, I’ve not heard of kids calling people aside from teachers Mr / Mrs. My kids’ friends call me by my first name or “Daisy/Alfie/Teddy’s Mum,” Kelly said, a sentiment which lots of other mothers agreed with.
As Nicky wrote, "Do kids still call friends' parents Mrs/Ms/Mr X? I haven’t heard that since I was a child (in the olden days!!!). My kids (5yos) call everyone by their first names. Even their aunts and uncles are called by just their first name."
But it was a different matter when it came to how kids should address their parents, with the majority confirming that mum and dad is, and should be, the way they are addressed.
"I don’t mind being called by my first name by other kids. To mine though it’s Mum."
No - you can't use first names for other adults - we like old school respect.
Whether it's Mrs, Mr, Aunt, Uncle, it was clear that some parents still believe in titles.
Dee commented, "I like it when my daughters little friends call me by my name, it's endearing. As long as the respect is always there. But I think that formality should be for teachers and school though. Like school uniforms."
Vicki agreed: "I'm pretty old school. My kid will call us mum and dad even when they are adults. Teachers are Mrs/Miss/Mr and I always refer to Drs as Dr whatever their name is."
Teacher Jem made an excellent point about manners and priorities:
"My theory with Mr/Mrs is that they can be polite to your face and downright rude behind your back. I am happy with first names as long as names are actually used! So often, as a teacher, I have to teach kids the importance of saying hello and using names instead of she/he and even "it."
You can use my first name, even though I'm your parent.
This was a less common situation, but it still happens.
Kirsten shared a scenario that most parents are familiar with: "My kids only call me Kirsten when we are out and they are trying to get my attention in a noisy place - “mum!! MUM!! KIRSTEN!!”
Megan wrote, "My daughter calls me Mum or Megan - I don’t mind either way. She calls my friends by their first names, and her friends call me Megan."
I'm most definitely with Megan on that.