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Is it time to reclaim the word ‘Mumsy’?

Updated: Mar 14

Ever since I was a young girl, I was terrified of the word “mumsy” - dressing mumsy, acting mumsy, thinking mumsy - embarrassingly mumsy. I swore to myself once I was on the ‘other side’ of becoming a mum, I would be anything but mumsy. Fast forward twenty years and at the prime age of thirty-four, I am definitely what my younger self would have described as mumsy.

Not a moment to put makeup on before the dash to nursery, wearing sweats everyday disguised as ‘athleisure’, hair unkempt, nails neither buffed nor polished. Over two and half years later, I still haven’t found out the secret which the meticulous Stepford Wives possess.

Over the last two years - the hazy newborn days, the lockdown days, some more lockdown days and toddlerhood, I have come to ask myself, why on earth was mumsy a slur to begin with? I have never heard of a father being called dadsy, in fact it sounds quite endearing; but repeating mumsy to myself as I write this article, rather unfairly it still sounds a bit sad.

The obstacle course of self development you have to go through as a mother and the strength, values and wisdom you pick up along the way - none of it is recognised by society.

When we become mothers, we are all still valued primarily for our appearance, measured by how fast we ‘snapback’ and if we don’t, well we wouldn’t wish that upon anyone for the fear of being called ‘mumsy’. Mumsy doesn’t mean warrior, it means dowdy, mumsy doesn’t mean possessing unbelievable patience and resilience, no, it means old fashioned, mumsy doesn’t mean being highly skilful, it means drab.

As I dig a little deeper, I realise that my husband (supportive though he is) does not look any different to how he did pre-baby, in fact he dresses better, meanwhile I lurch from one wardrobe crisis to another and I just never seem to have time.

The news is full of stories of mothers bearing the brunt of household chores, despite a whole generation of millennial women in full-time jobs. When it comes to childcare, women spend nearly twice as much time compared to men - 20.5 hours per week compared to just 12 hours per week for men.

So what is it, why have I fallen victim to the world of mumsy? First of all, I notice my husband has more time to himself at the weekends due to various gender-biased hobbies which conveniently take them out for hours at a time; football, golf, cycling: you name it, no male hobby seems to be any less than half a day. Whereas I on the other hand, when offered the same opportunity, prefer to spend the little free time that I have with my family, rather than going out solo. Second, let me say it loud and clear, lack of CHILDCARE. There is simply not enough of it and certainly not enough importance placed on it by society for women to take time for themselves. Child care to support mum in full-time work? Sure. Childcare for mum to feel and look her best self? Selfish.

As I mentioned in the article I wrote for Grazia last year about my experience of having a baby during a pandemic; until society understands why childcare is the cornerstone of gender equality, strong relationships and good mental health for women, I will be reclaiming the word mumsy from now on. Mumsy doesn’t mean drab, dowdy or unfashionable, mumsy means a person who possesses unbelievable strength, tenacity and selflessness in raising the next generation in a better world whilst sacrificing their own time doing it.

Here’s to mumsy mums. I salute you all!

By: Nika Diamond -Krendel

Contributing Editor Mumble

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