Does The Word “Mommy” Offend You?

Written by Katie Hintz-Zambrano
11:38 am
11/12/14

Photographed by Paige Jones

If you’ve been reading The New York Times over the weekend, you know that the “Mommy Wars” are very much real. That is, when it comes to the term “mommy” itself. In the paper’s Sunday Opinion column, writer Heather Havrilesky explains that she’s fed up with people, other than her children, calling her “Mom” or “Mommy.” Society throwing this label on women signals to her that outsiders assume someone’s pre-mom identity has all but disappeared the day she becomes pregnant. Havrilesky writes:

…When teachers, coaches, pediatricians and strangers alike suddenly stop addressing you by your name, or even “ma’am” or “lady,” and start calling you “Mom.” You’ll feel like a new person, all right—a new person you don’t necessarily know or recognize.

It’s tough to blame bystanders, though, when our culture is so besotted with all things “mom” and “mommy”: “Mommy & Me” yoga classes and “Mommy & Me” mani-pedis and “mommy” makeovers abound. Navigate the world with a child in tow and pretty soon you can’t escape the word. If you post something to your blog about having kids, you’re a “mommy blogger.” If you get your hair cut short, you got a “mom haircut.” If you have something to say about the challenges of balancing home life and work, you’re part of the “mommy wars.” If you need a drink after all of this mommy talk, you’re having a “mommy’s night out,” which means you might become a “mom gone wild.”

We hear Havrilesky loud and clear, and so do a bunch of other writers and editors who also happen to be moms. Of course, we’ve also learned to embrace the “mommy” label (ahem, look at the name of this site), while at the same time trying to transcend it. We recognize that once you have a child, your priorities shift, and so does your identity. How all-encompassing this identity shift is, really depends on the woman. We celebrate the moments in which this shift makes your experience as a human even richer, at the same time not ignoring the reality of when this shift makes your life a mess of overwhelm. So, in this sense, the term “mommy” doesn’t always offend us, since we know how complex that role is. Of course, bystanders knowing the complexity of motherhood isn’t always a given, which is where accepting such a label gets sticky.

We want to know: Does the term “mommy” offend you? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments!

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