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Don’t Call Me Mum

12 Oct 2016

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

These things aren’t serious, the world is still turning and everyone is ok. 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 who calls me Mum.

Let me paint the picture…

At the start of a meeting everyone introduces themselves and shakes hands. We have come together to discuss my son’s wheelchair positioning (for example). There is a company rep, two therapists, a student, me and my son. Myself and the therapists have known each other for over a year.

Our courteous smiles prelude us discussing what to do about the chair. Then fifteen minutes pass before the therapist turns to the rep and says,

‘Mum thinks it would be a good idea if we raise the foot rests slightly.”

I’m heartbroken. After all our chitchats, emails and the like, she won’t say my name in public. 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, ‘Well, therapist…’

Professionalism has been replaced with paternity.
And this isn’t limited to special needs, it happens in schools and hospitals everywhere. Now, I know professionals aren’t deliberately being mean, they work hard and are trying to do a good job. Maybe, they’ve all gone on a teaching session that taught them parents like to be called ‘Mum’ or ‘Dad’.

At some point though, this behaviour became normal. But having 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 there is a serious undercurrent related to 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 their labels or expertise, yet in reality I have a greater stake in this conversation and its outcome than anyone else in the room (except for my son).

When staff in hospital, use ‘Mum’ as an easy name, I can understand it. But I would prefer they call me Sam’s Mum because I’m not just anyone’s.

I have three kids and only they get to call me mum.

I am very proud of my role as Mum but I’m very specific about who gets to use that name. The rest of you can call me Rachel, Mrs Wright or Ma’am 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!

screen-shot-2016-11-05-at-12-04-48

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 campaign on,

28th November 2016
Don’t call me Mum’ Awareness Day
which happens to be the same day as,

Don’t call me Dad’ Awareness Day
dadwhite_logo_color_background

It will be a day to raise awareness as we will shout from the Facebook and Twitter rooftops that we too have names. We want to partner with the professionals because parents are more than a label of Mum or Dad.

Parents have a role, skills, invaluable insight, and we have a name.

They are names that we are proud of (mostly) and wish to to be used in public.

Are you a parent who wants to join our campaign?
Then please:

Let’s make;

Monday 28th November 2016

‘Don’t call me Mum (or Dad)’ Awareness Day.
On twitter Tweet #dontcallmemum or #dontcallmedad 

Are you a therapist who recognises parents as partners?
Do you want to show us your support? Then buy your department a campaign pack and highlight to your colleagues the heart of the ‘Don’t call me Mum’ campaign.

Go to the Don’t call me Mum website, order a campaign pack and get involved.

#specialneedsparentingproblems
#imnotyourmum

#parentsaspartners

#pleasedontcallmemum
#onlymykidsgettocallmemum

For more information about the campaign or to get our logo on your website to show support, you can contact us via info@dontcallmemum.com

Written by Rachel Wright, blogger, author of The Skies I’m Under and trainer with Simple Stuff Works.