Don't Call Me Mommy

by Kaly Sullivan
Originally Published: 
A brown-haired child in a beige sweater and orange shirt lying face-down and smiling

There’s something about being called “Mommy” that makes me shudder. It’s one of those unexplainable cringe-worthy things like nails on a chalkboard or forks scraping plates or the sound of Kim Kardashian’s voice. Cloying. That’s the best word that I have to describe it.

Every night, I bow my head to thank the parenting gods that I went straight from Mama to Mom and skipped Mommy altogether.

My aversion is a mystery. I’m always hearing Mommy, Mommy, Mommy in the world of parenting, and it doesn’t bother me one bit. But when it’s my own precious children, the hairs on my neck bristle and a chill runs down my spine. For me, mommy and whining trigger the same type of visceral response: If you don’t stop it right now, I might lose my shit.

My children know this, and they use it against me. When they are being sarcastic, want something, or trying to win the Most Obnoxious Child of the Year Award, they use Mommy because they know it will get my attention.

It’s helpful to read the following in the most annoying voice ever:

“Sorry about that Mommy, when you have to fart, you have to fart.”

“Mommy, let’s have M&M’s for breakfast.”

“Come on Mommy, just one more minute.”

This technique doesn’t get them what they want. But it does make my jaw clench.

Don’t call me Mommy.

Mommy feels too saccharine, too sticky sweet, too wholesome. It also feels patronizing, and loaded with cultural associations that I can’t seem to shake.

Let’s start with the movie Mommie Dearest, which traumatized children in the ’80s. When I close my eyes and think mommy, I see Joan Crawford’s eyebrows. And they are scary.

People don’t take mommy seriously. Mommy is something you put on a novelty onesie, name a Precious Moments figurine, or use to refer to your matching mommy and me outfits.

There’s a certain silliness and weakness to it that makes it easily dismissible.

A mommy gives you a hug and tell you how special you are, but she doesn’t lay down the law like your mother will. She doesn’t set you straight like your mom.

I’m a lot of things, but sweet and wholesome? Not in a million years. I can cuddle and giggle with the best of them, but most of the time I’m less touchy feely and more get-your-shit-together.

I’m simply not mommy material.

If you want to have M&M’s for breakfast — which is never totally out of the question — I have one piece of advice: Don’t call me mommy.

Related post: Motherhood: The Big Fat Fuck You

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