When I was pregnant, I had no idea of the minefield that women must endure after they’ve had a baby. I’m not talking about breastfeeding vs bottlefeeding or cry it out vs co-sleeping. I’m talking about labels. Big fat labels that all women are made to wear around their neck once they bring a child into the world.
I’m not a fan of labels. I think they divide us rather than bringing us together. “Attachment Parent”, “Stay At Home Parent”, “Natural Parent”, whatever the label, they all make me feel kind of itchy.
I have no problem with the concepts behind the label, but the idea of belonging to a “club”, likening parenting to being a fan of a particular football team, just doesn’t sit well with me. I was the kid at school who loved Take That but also had a secret soft spot for East 17. So you see, I’ve never been very good at choosing sides.
Of all the labels out there that are thrust upon mothers (and I say “mothers”, because I’ve yet to hear someone use the father equivalent of this label), the one that I detest the most is “Full Time Mum”.
Full. Time. Mum.
Let’s think about that for a second. You’re a mum. And you do this role “full time”. WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?!
Does it mean that you clock in at 9am and leave at 5pm, mumming approximately 40 hours a week? Or does it mean that you are always a mum, spending every second of your day wearing your title proudly?
In truth, I know what “Full Time Mum” is supposed to mean. I’ve heard it used enough times to work out that a “Full Time Mum” is a mother who stays home and doesn’t use childcare. It’s a term that is often used interchangeably with “Stay At Home Mum”.
But “Full Time Mum” is, at best, a rubbish description of this role and, at worst, insulting. It’s insulting to the mums who stay home and it’s insulting to the mums who go to work. After all, if you’re a mum who stays at home, then you don’t get the luxury of clocking off at 5pm. “Full Time Mum” fails to consider the 3am nightmares and the 6am wake-up calls. And if you’re a mum who goes to work, you don’t magically stop being a mum between the hours of 9am and 5pm. You might be in an office miles away from your child, but that doesn’t mean you’re not wondering what he is doing right now, or planning what to cook him for tea tonight. Someone else might be looking after him, but they are sure as hell NOT his mother just because you aren’t there.
And how about the mums who work AT home? What if you work at home while your child is at nursery, or whatever. Are you automatically a “Part Time Mum”? I dare you to call ANY mother a “Part Time Mum” and see what response you’ll get. I’m willing to bet big money that it won’t be pretty.
So there you have it. I don’t think “Full Time Mum” does any “type” of mum justice. I vote we ban it.
I vote we just use the term “Mum” instead.