It came as a huge shock. The first time my baby girl uttered the word “Mummy”.
Unresponsive [in fact, completely oblivious] at first, it eventually hit me and in a most cliche way, I even went as far as a double-take. As odd as it may sound [and it’s not as if I hadn’t been called a multitude of names prior], this was my rude awakening. This precious little being was talking to none other than me. Myself. And I.
Nothing could prepare me for this moment. Quick to learn that selective hearing doesn’t wash with tenacious toddlers, I had no choice but to respond. With zeal.
Rewind a year or so and it had actually dawned on me that I was a M.U.M [believe me, to the outside world there was no mistaking the bags and sags]. I’d done labour, I’d suffered the big “C”, I’d been suctioned [no, not quite sectioned of the other kind] & I’d gloriously melted in skin-to-skin, but somehow I’d managed to dodge this most mammoth of realisations. This wasn’t one of those reassuring “hello mum!” tea-and-toast moments, when novice mothers are greeted by sympathetic, well-meaning midwives for the first time. I was no longer unquestioningly going through the mummy motions, responding robotic & bleary-eyed to early morning mummy calls or sacrificing last morsels of toast to her “but I’m still hungry!” cause. This was the rather important realisation that I was a grown-up now, unequivocally responsible for the past, the present & the future of this bright little soul. This was the acknowledgement [& admittedly, it did take me some time] that I was always & forever going to be more than just “Me”.
For better or for worse.
Deserving of the title or not.
Finally, this was the acceptance that I was first and foremost a Mum.
And thenceforth began the Mummy V Me wars.
Who the hell was “Me” these days anyway? She had been easily lost somewhere en route to Mothercare or Jo Jo or wherever. Lazy weekend lounging, all-day newspaper brunches & impromptu “I’ll-treat-myself-to-that-thank-you-very-much” shopping trips quickly became black and white memory shots. Instead, “Me” became “Mum” and “Mum” became accustomed to half-finished cups of cold tea & late night trolley dashes. Freedom? No. Privacy? No. Spare time? You must be kidding! Dragged along by her very own toddler-taming leash, she was a walking, talking nappy-bag, sterilised to oblivion and full of the coos of spring. Pulling silly faces, she’d “goo-goo, ga-ga” in public places and terrifyingly, she would even offer teary hugs to randoms who gave her the time of day. It really was most embarrassing. Poor sod.
And even when the odd glimmers of “Me” did make a brief appearance, they were met with raised eye-brows and hushed “are you sure?”s. Trying to convince new-found friends of my glorious past was a futile task. This old turkey had well and truly had the stuffing knocked out of her. It’s hard to believe I know, but slipping away was a BA hons, MA Cantab, classically-trained-singer and well-seasoned-traveller ME! struggling to re-emerge, re-invent and re-define herself.
Oh ho ho…..there’s a lot you don’t know about me. But for now you may as well just call me Mum or madre, maman or ma ma [whatever, just for the sake of interest.] That said, you’d think I’d be used to it by now. But it still comes as a huge shock. Every time my now two girls utter the word “Mummy”.
With the best will in the world & with the most amount of love, you can take the “Me” out of “Mummy” but you can’t take the “Mummy” out of “Me”.
Being a Mummy. It’s not a temporary thing.
But I wouldn’t have it any other way.