So, here I am seven months into this gig as a mother and I have to admit that I don’t quite feel like a mum or a mummy. Before you start worrying that I’ve got a bad case of post-natal depression, let me elaborate.
Mama, mom, mommy…definitely. Those fit and feel natural. Mum or mummy…not so much. Maybe it doesn’t seem like a big difference – it’s literally just a vowel – but to me it’s the same as calling the trunk of the car a ‘boot’ or a truck a ‘lorry’. It just sounds strange coming out of my mouth and it’s just another set of words I’ve yet to fully adopt as a long-term, permanent expat here.
I just don’t feel I’m British enough to be a ‘mum’. Probably because I’m not British.
It kind of dawned on me a couple of weeks ago how un-British I am as a mother and how much I feel I need to learn as Freddy grows up. I definitely don’t want him to start calling his trousers ‘pants’ at school, because while in the U.S. that’s perfectly acceptable, here you’re talking about your underwear.
I don’t know the nursery rhymes children grew up with here. Sure, some of them are probably similar in the U.S., but there are a lot I don’t know. I also don’t know the games children played growing up. Again, maybe some are similar, but they’ll have different names and probably have slightly different rules.
I don’t know how to do a good Sunday Roast or traditional British Christmas Dinner. I rarely drink tea. I don’t know how the school system works here. I know next to nothing about Rugby or Cricket. I don’t really drink gin (that seems to be a favourite among mothers here). What do children do here in the summer when not in school?
I have a lot to learn, and as much as I will hold tight and fast to my American roots, I do want to fit in better as a ‘mum’ here.
Deep down I truly believe that being a mother is really just about loving your children and ensuring they are safe, happy, and successful, but there is definitely a culture around motherhood and childhood wherever you are. Some parts of that culture are good, others you can take them or leave them. While I want to create traditions of our own, and give him a blended American and British upbringing, I also want to make sure that I can throw a good traditional British birthday party as well as any of his friends’ mothers. And that he thinks I can make a decent bread sauce. At the same time, he’ll know the words to ‘Take Me Out to the Ball Game,’ and come to love sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top at Thanksgiving.
As Freddy grows, so will I. He will grow into a cute, accented British little boy and I’ll hopefully evolve into a tea-drinking, plum-pie-making, parsnip-roasting, pass-the-parcel-gamer, yummy-mummy extraordinaire. Maybe the title ‘mum’ will even suit me one day. But for now, I’m his mommy. With an ‘o’.