An Open Letter to People Who Are Not My Child But Refer To Me As “Mommy”
There was a time, not very long ago, when we were friends. Our friendship was probably based on a mutual enjoyment of each other’s company, which implies that we used to talk about our lives and interests and what’s in the news and maybe I used to tell you you’re an idiot and make terrible life choices and you’d listen to me because I’m a reasonably intelligent adult. I’ve always had opinions, you know that. And let’s face it, I’ve never been particularly well-dressed and have lived in my yoga pants ever since I realised I don’t need to wash them that often. When I popped out a person ten months ago and made you proud owner of a little nephew, this did not change. I still have opinions, I’m still a slob, I still live in my yoga pants. I’m still not cool with you trivializing my ideas or experiences by attaching the word “mommy” to them.
Yeah, I’m someone’s mommy. I have vague shit colored stains on my T shirt and while I’m talking to you my kid is wiping his snot on my pants. You talk to the side of my head while I shout “Don’t touch that!” and “What’s in your mouth?” I get it. Try and move past that, okay, just the way I’m graciously overlooking how you are wearing the shirt you stole from me in eighth grade and checking Foodpanda menus while I describe my latest night of sleep deprivation. I used to have opinions about politics and we used to have long conversations deep into the night. Nothing I’ve ever done so far is as political as raising my kid. When I’m indignantly discussing Nestle’s history of promoting formula feeding in impoverished communities which don’t have access to sterile utensils, don’t say “Awww that’s such a mommy concern!” When I wear my five year old yoga pants because I know I can squeeze in a workout during naptime don’t tell me I’m wearing “mommy pants.” When we’re talking about how we should move to Finland because the education system there is so enviably fantastic, don’t say “right on mommy!”
By all means, tell me I have a huge butt and need to get that workout in, or share my indignation for greedy food conglomerates and test driven education systems. Tell me to go change my disgusting snot covered pants. Hell, just talk about your own day without worrying that my perfectly functional, albeit exhausted, brain is incapable of processing anything unless it directly concerns my baby. If I’m not following you because I’m so damn tired because I haven’t slept and I ate toddler leftovers for lunch, I will tell you myself, thank you.
I love you all for loving my kid, for swapping late night sushi, smoking in the living room and impromptu beach plans for sitting in our smoke free house eating takeout at 7pm, making plans for the weekend four days in advance. I love that you offer to babysit even though I wouldn’t for a second trust you to look after my kid unless I want him coming home and saying “fuck” as his new word. I love that you listen to my stance on breastfeeding and hypnobirthing and potty training, occasionally feigning interest and looking up from your phone. It’s great that you’ve embraced my mommyhood, but I’m not YOUR mommy. You know what makes a woman feel instantly unsexy, frumpy and deeply aware of the shit stains on her T shirt? Being called “mom” by EVERYONE. When I’m parenting, I am one hundred percent a parent, but when I’m with you, I’m still one hundred percent a person who thinks and reads and even occasionally wears nice underwear and well fitted jeans. Besides, I’m raising a boy. The most important thing I’ll ever teach him is that women are more than whatever unimaginative labels you affix to them-starting with his mommy.