fillipo lippi V&CBoth our boys on occasions have called my partner and I ‘Mum’, as we are both men it has surprised us and we have considered it long and hard.

They have done it to me only a couple of times and in fact I’m pretty sure it has stopped completely now, but although it has lessened for my partner it will very occasionally and apparently quite randomly still pop up. He is the stay at home parent and consequently takes on the more ‘motherly’ role, but trust me he is every inch a man and a father.

The obvious question is – why?

The obvious answer to many – because they wish they had a Mother.

Yet we are sure that is not so at all, we regularly discuss being a family and them having two dads and we have directly asked them on a number of occasions if they wish they had a mum. In the beginning they would sometimes say yes – and we were pleased that they were being honest and felt able to be so – yet that stopped some time back and now they simply say ‘no, we love having two dads’. They usually go on and point out that they do have a mum anyway – referring to birth mum.

As I am sure is the case with other families that do not fit the stereotype, we have became acutely aware of how the ‘nuclear family’ of Mum, Dad and usually two children (mostly a boy and a girl) is an image that is constantly and relentlessly fed to our children.

The good news is that the awareness does make us address the issue and we spend some time seeking out books, films, TV programmes etc that have less obvious family set ups and it’s great to discover that they are out there nowadays.

The bad news is that trying to normalise our family is a tough battle to fight and we are now realising that it is one that can never actually be won. No matter how many alternatives we find these are so greatly outnumbered that the ‘normal’ image of the nuclear family will always win through, I guess the most that we can hope for is to soften the blow of that as much as possible.

I have to say that it has filled me with a whole new found respect for single parents, divorced parents, large families, stay at home dad families (where mum works) or any family that does not fit into the stereotype our children are taught to see as ‘normal’ and as a consequence are facing the same issues that we are.

Our sons are clearly proud of their two dads and they tell everybody we are a family – which occasionally freaks out the odd stranger or two on the 38 bus. They are clearly happy with us and not on any level embarrassed or ashamed of having gay dads which is wonderfully reassuring – although as with any parent/child relationship we are pretty sure that being ashamed of their parents will rightly develop with age and will be ever present throughout their teenage years.

The great positive in our sons calling us ‘Mum’ is that we now clearly see it as a sign that we are in fact meeting all of their ‘motherly’ needs and that they are in fact just reassuring us of that fact. It seems to satisfy them and consequently that certainly satisfies us too.

7 thoughts on “Mum

  1. Good post and it’s lovely to read how well settled your boys are. I think for adopted children generally their family set up is “different” be that in a typical nuclear family or gay or single parents or grandparents or any other family setup. Our daughter felt different because she doesn’t live with her birth family like her school friends but has now met so many other adopted children that being adopted now is quite normal in her world. You’re right about how much the nuclear family is presented as typical and I hope that continues to change and more combinations of families are represented.

  2. Lovely lovely blog. I also often feel that we are a minority family: mum, dad and son brought together by adoption. But then again, I hardly ever meet a nuclear family – it is such a construct of the media.

  3. You sound like wonderful parents! It seems as though you are very open to your children’s feelings and appreciate the true blessings in life. No, our families won’t ever be “normal”, but they can be better than normal! Keep up the good work, dads!

  4. I’m a teacher and over the years the kids in my care have accidently called. me mum, it’s like a casual mistake they make when they are distracted. They always look a bit alarmed when they do it and slightly embarrassed. I agree that to kids ‘mum’ is a role not a gender.

  5. As a single adopter I get it as well.. And whilst in our circle there are plenty of “regular” families of all shapes and sizes and mixes, not quite the same in media / stories or even school.. And my son picks up on it.
    .so it was great go be watching cbeebees show “my first ” with focus on moving house with a single dad and son the focus and reason for moving to 3 bed so family can stay. Just like for us. Helps so much to relate personally to the story and helps reinforce what I say as to lots of different families. my son has watched it several times and told his gran about it.

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