Why you should stop calling your caring friends 'mum'

We all have a 'mum friend', but just how problematic is the term?

Gabbi De Boer
25th March 2022
Image: Unsplash
As women, we tend to find that we are defined by the roles we play in society. Most often encountered in all relationships is the expectation to be motherly - to look after those around us and and always have a caring nature. If we are older than another person, motherly responsibility is thrust upon us in unexpected ways. And honestly, I think it’s time we agreed that women shouldn’t be defined by this characteristic. 

Coming to uni, I knew how to do most household chores already, and assumed everyone would. I quickly found out that wasn’t the case, and naturally, tried to help out as and where I could. It was then that people started referring to me as their ‘mum’, and when asking for help, would also use the term. Now, although I acknowledge it’s a joke, I can’t help but feel that the ability to look after and teach those around us is a lot more deeply ingrained than I originally thought. 

You hear it everywhere, women called “the mum friend” because they look after their friends on a night out or are willing to run errands for others. But why isn’t being a caring human being just … the norm? Why does being a decent person make you a mother? That's not to say I don't like helping out, I do - but there's no need to attach the 'mum' label. I don't have children right now, and you're not my child.

It can be easy to forget this when there is an expectation to be 'motherly'

This can also be especially hard in romantic relationships. For many, acts of service are a love language, but it can be difficult to strike a balance between what is an act of service and acting like your significant other's parent. You shouldn't just be a glorified taxi or fit into the 'housewife' aesthetic, it's a partnership with give and take. It can be easy to forget this when there is an expectation to be 'motherly'.

Although I know it’s a compliment to some, I can’t help but feel that I’m only in my 20s, and personally have no children myself so being defined by this societal expectation isn’t something I enjoy. Obviously, that’s just my opinion, many people enjoy being the nurturing type, but it’s just not for me! It’s not a woman’s job to look after you or teach you how to live simply because she is a woman. 

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