Who you callin’ ‘Mum’? (A letter to my pre-Mum self)


Dear me,

RE: Your new name

It is with pleasure that I write to inform you that in approximately x weeks’ time, you will formally receive the title of ‘Mum’.

I am thrilled that you have taken on this role, and confident that you will perform it to the best of your ability.

However, despite the frequency with which you will hear it, the new moniker will frequently surprise you, and continue to do so, even after you think you are used to hearing it.

The first time you hear it will be in hospital, an hour after you have given birth. You will tell a midwife that you desperately need sleep and she will will look at your quizzically before doling out the truth you already should have known: ‘you’re a Mum now, 24/7′.

This will set you up for the fact that now you can NOT sleep, at least for the next six months.

Even when the baby is asleep, you are still on duty, checking that she is still breathing. You will stand over her cot, your hand on her inflated tummy, counting: ‘short breath, short breath, short breath, long breath’.

After six weeks, and in the spirit of life’s propensity for shit-house timing, a pre-eminent scholar in your field of study will come to town. You will be invited to an intimate reading group where she will be present and where you will need to have prepared a series of thoughtful questions related to your research.

You will not have done the reading.

You will have no questions prepared.

You will have totalled five hours sleep in several small denominations. And it will go without saying that you are wearing breast milk on your jumper.

You will sit next to a lad who is at least a decade younger than you. He will whip out his laptop and proceed to summarise his thoughts on the scholar’s latest offerings.

You will close your eyes so that the tiny, mocking critter of scholarly ineptitude can fully materialise behind your eyelids. You will think: ‘What am I doing here? I’m just a Mum now!’ and you will fully believe it, whatever it means.

During the reading group, you will try to follow, you really will.

But your mind will zip back and forth between contemporary digital art practice and your baby at home.

Your baby will win.

You will miss her.

‘What the fuck am I doing here?!’ you will think. ‘I’m her MUM!’ 

From about 14 months, you will be able to concentrate for longer stretches of time on your writing, and it will follow this approximate format:

Habermas is widely considered in the critical literature to be the preeminent theorist…DOCTOR KNICKERBOCKER KNICKERBOCKER NUMBER NINE, HE LIKES TO DANCE AND KEEP IN TIME!…and therefore…what should I take out of the freezer for dinner?….

In short, you will begin to realise that although your head is mind-bendingly full, it also has these little drawers where you can store things. And you can have lots of drawers open, all at the same time, and still function quite well.

In actual fact, most of the drawers are sub-titled ‘Mum’.

‘Mum’ tends to line the drawer of whatever it is you do. One is titled ‘Professional Woman AND Mum’. And you will like the sound of that.

Best wishes,



4 responses to “Who you callin’ ‘Mum’? (A letter to my pre-Mum self)

  1. Love it. So true. I remember those first few hours alone with the child after giving birth. Oh dear, that was scary. Never been so freaking tired but they were kind and took her for a few hours since she wouldn’t settle. Ahhhhh. Thankfully she became a good sleeping after we got home but it’s a scary realisation when you know life as you knew it is over. Yet wonderful!

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