Only a few people in this world call me Mum, and to everyone else I ask,
“Please don’t call me mum.”
I have a few pet hates. They include;
- Hardened weetabix that needs a chisel to remove
- Finding my laundry mottled with disintegrated tissue
- Someone parking so close to my wheelchair adapted car that I can’t get the ramp down
But, there is one gripe that has been in my Top-five annoyances for the last few years and I know I am not alone.
A professional calling me Mum.
Let me paint the picture…
At the start of a meeting everyone introduces themselves and shakes hands (in the good old days!). We have come together to discuss my son’s wheelchair positioning (for example). There is a company advisor, two therapists, a student, me and my son. Myself and the therapists have known each other for over a year. We speak on the phone, write emails, meet occasionally, then fifteen minutes into the appointment the therapist turns to the company advisor and says,
“Mum thinks it would be a good idea if we change the footrest height.”
She knows my name but chooses not to use it. Part of me wants to swing round, look at the door and ask.
“You’ve brought your mother to work? How quaint!”
In reality the most I have had the guts to do is say,
Professionalism has been replaced with paternity.
And it happens in communities, hospitals and schools everywhere. Now, I know professionals aren’t deliberately being mean. They work hard and are trying to do a good job. But at some point, this behaviour became normal.
As someone who has been on the receiving end many times, all I can say is – it’s weird. It just feels wrong. Although this is a minor incident, I think this highlights and heightens an imbalance of power.
All the other people in the room have a role and a name but I am simply ‘Mum’
I am not a partner in this meeting. I’m not on par with the labels or expertise. Yet in reality, I have a greater stake in the outcome of this little gathering than anyone else at the table.
When staff in hospital (who will see me for 10 minutes and never again), use ‘Mum’ as an easy name, I can understand it. But I would prefer to be called ‘Sam’s Mum’ because I’m not just anyone’s.
I have three kids and only they get to call me mum.
Being a mum is one of my greatest roles but I’m specific about who can call me Mum. The rest of you can call me Rachel, Mrs Wright or all sorts of things, if you prefer.
So, here is my plan. For the next few appointments I’m going to wear my new badge with the ‘Don’t call me mum’ logo!
My husband has a badge that says ‘Don’t call me Dad’ because this a parent thing, not a gender thing. If, like me, you are a parent who wants to have a name then you can join the initiative.
Raise awareness, as a parent or professional, shout from the rooftops (or at least Facebook and Twitter) that parents are partners, experts in their children and enjoy being called by their names too. We want to partner with the professionals based on our mutual respect and effective communication.
Parents have many roles, skills, valuable insights, and we have a name.
Are you a parent who wants to join us?
- Share this blog
- Like Don’t call me Mum on Facebook
- Follow Don’t call me Mum on Twitter
- Add the ‘Don’t call me Mum’ twibbon to your profile picture on Facebook or twitter
- Go to the website Don’t call me Mum, read more about our campaign or order your campaign pack (including badges, flyers and Campaign posters) to share with your local community.
On twitter Tweet #dontcallmemum or #dontcallmedad
Are you a therapist who recognises and respects parents as partners?
If you want to show us your support that buy your campaign pack and highlight to your colleagues the heart of the ‘Don’t call me Mum’ initiative.
Go to the Don’t call me Mum webpage, order a campaign pack and get involved.
For more information about the initiative or to get our logo on your website to show support, you can contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org
This post originally appeared on Simple Stuff Works Blog