As a mum/mom, I could not help but take note of this passage in Lynne Moriarty’s novel Big, Little Lies which I read in two big gulps last weekend. It amused me so much I took a photo of it:
The novel is set in Sydney, where it seems mums are still mums, as opposed to here in the USA where mums look like this:
I don’t even like them – chrysanthemums that is – yet I have bought some this year and there they sit because that’s what you do in America (or at least in this bit of it). If you are a mom, you buy mums. For ‘fall color’. I think.
But back to the word thing. This Gabrielle woman in the book says mum is a frumpy word and, honestly, I’m inclined to agree with her. Certainly it’s a short hop from being a mum to being mumsy – definitely not a term of endearment, that one. But really, Gabrielle, is mom any better? I even find it hard to get my lips around. Child 3 corrects me when I say mum (I have talked about that little madam’s desire to change me into and American English speaker before) and once even looked at this mug (owned by my mum) and famously said: “What’s a mum?”
(In the movie of my life we now cut to shot of mum/mom/me!! in background tearing out hair).
The thing that really caught my attention though, was the idea that mom sounded skinnier. Even better, that moms are skinnier. Could a word make you skinny? Just imagine. Nonsense I thought… but then, as a non-skinny mother who wouldn’t mind being slimmer, then I got to thinking. Perhaps because Child 1, who has still (although only just) spent more of his 13 years in the UK than in North America, calls me mum, perhaps that’s why being called mom isn’t making me skinny. Maybe if all three of them called me mom the ‘skinny effect’ might happen to me.
No, you are right.
Pass the jaffa cakes.