As a certain Mr Shakespeare once said ‘A rose by any other name would smell as sweet’ but some names have a very special significance and without a doubt Mummy is one of them.
When I first became a step mum I didn’t consider the children calling me anything other than my name. Well, it’s worked so far, I’m rather attached to it. Then one day the kids grandma asked me what I wanted the kids to call me. It was honestly the first time I’d considered it. She wanted them to call me Mummy and I felt very, very uncomfortable about it. I had to ask myself why it made me feel so uncomfortable and I think it comes down to basic respect for them and their Mum.
Imagine being the Mum in this situation, your relationship with the kids dad has broken down and you have split up. You are having to wave your kids off twice a week to be with their Dad and it’s hard. And then a new woman turns up. A new woman spending time with your children, reading bedtime stories to them, nursing them when they’re sick and cuddling them when they’re sad. This must hurt like hell. Now imagine they come home and they refer to this woman as Mum. The word which up until this point had been reserved only for you, the word which signifies your relationship with them and the bond you share. No, I will not have people encouraging them to call me mum because I have considered it from the other side and I want to avoid that pain for their Mum.
Don’t get me wrong, they do call me Mummy sometimes, it’s only natural as a caregiver who spends so much time with them but I just let it pass without comment. I’ve discussed this with a number of other stepmums and the approach is very different depending on the situation. A good stepmum friend of mine entered her little boys life when his mother was not around. He was craving the emotional support a Mother brings and she filled this role for him gladly. Some years later when his Mother re-entered his life he found it hard to call his birth Mother – Mum.
There is no rule for this kind of thing but as Mothers and Step Mothers it’s important that we realise the special significance the name Mummy has in our childrens lives and make sure we are sensitive their needs and worries.
What do your stepkids call you? Have you ever encountered a problem with the ‘M’ word?