I wrote this post in high dudgeon last week, and sent it off to Alpha Mummy who - unsurprisingly, and possibly understandably - never got back to me on it. I think though that it's still relevant, so here you are: a rant, from me, now more than a little cold...
Do you ever get sick of being labelled? I do. You meet someone new, they learn a very few basic facts about you, and boom, you're neatly filed into a category. If a mother isn't a Yummy Mummy, she's a Slummy Mummy. If not an Alpha Mummy, she's a Stay at Home Mummy, or any other of a number of faintly insulting and derogative names. Well now, it seems, she could also be a Prommie.
What - you haven't heard of that last one? After announcing the death of the Yummy the week before last (she passed away after a short illness; it's called the Recession and the killing blow was hubby losing his job, apparantly), the Times then introduced me to a new breed; the Prommie. The 'Professional Mummy'. She was once a high flier but due to market forces finds herself out of work and looking for a new project. Enter her children.
Now, I could start getting all cross and hot under the collar about innocent children becoming the unwilling focus of results-orientated mothers who never take time to stop and smell the roses, instead following a punishing schedule driving their children from improving play-date, to improving tennis lesson, to improving Chinese tutorial, but you know what?
It's all rubbish.
Sure, I imagine that there are some mums out there who, recently made redundant, will follow this path. But - news flash - there are plenty of mums who never had high-achieving careers who do that already. We all know them. (A lot of us avoid them, not from dislike, but more as a result of the guilt they invariably induce. You know, that we are at home drinking tea - or wine - and throwing together dinner, whilst our kids unwind with some down-time watching tv after school, rather than talking brightly to - sorry, at - our progeny in high pitched voices about the feeding habits of dinosaurs whilst we all construct a scale model of Pompeii from matchsticks.)
And I would bet good money that there are plenty of mothers who, still reeling from the shock of being cast out into the cold by their increasingly desperate ex-employers, would be appalled to find themselves shoved firmly into the 'Prommie' box before they've even shaken the dust of the City from their shoes. Just as are the plethora of good looking mums in Uggs and skinny jeans who, whilst resigned to the label, really don't think of themselves as posessing the empty-headedness implied by the name 'Yummy Mummy'. (On the flip side, of course, there are those mothers for whom the term 'Yummy' is a badge of honour, and who will probably be rather concerned to hear the no doubt pre-emptive tales of their demise.)
Surely, life should be about balance? Pigeon-holing a person, whilst convenient, is rarely accurate.
What are you, for example? If, like me, you live in central London, and rely on your husband's income to pay the bills, whilst going to the gym 3 times a week, you fit right into the Yummy box. No doubt about it.
But then you might also drive a beat up 8 year old car in an extremely unfashionable colour of an even more unfashionable make. Your hair may need cutting, your shoes need reheeling, and your living room might looks like a bomb's hit it. Well then, you are obviously a Slummy, yes?
Wait, though. What about if you cook from scratch (never mind that in my case it's largely because of allergies, these labels aren't interested in the reasons why we do things, only that we do), and don't have an au-pair or a nanny. Well, you must be a born-again Stay At Home.
Hang on there; supposing you encourage your children to speak a second language (again, it's irrelevant to the label-lovers that this might be because you are a bilingual couple), and take them to sports lessons and playdates after school more than once a week. Is that 'Prommie' I hear you say?
Hold your horses though; what if you are working part-time, paid or unpaid, with an ambitious long-term goal in sight, be it studying for a degree, setting up your own home-based business, or trying to establish a second career? Is there the potential for an Alpha in there?
What's my point? Simply this. We all have the potential to be so many things, and none of them are exclusive. We could be slummy, yummy, prommie, working, stay at home, born-again, blogging, and sometimes hopeless. All at the same time. By categorising too fiercely, or by dividing into cliques at the school gates, in the work-place, or wherever, we could be denying ourselves the opportunity to reach out to other people who might enrich our lives, and just as importantly, who's lives we could in turn enrich.
These labels, the ones that start off as sound-bites in a radio interview or catch-phrases in a magazine article, and which often end up as derogatory terms to refer to a way of life we might not agree with; they are simply there as shorthand. They might neatly sum up one aspect of a person's life at a particular moment, but they certainly don't sum up the whole individual.
That's it - rant over.