British, Children, Dutch, Languages, Multicultural, Uncategorized

I’m a Dutch Mama Not an English Mummy

Do you prefer to be called mama or papa, like the Dutch use, or the terms in your native language? In my English case, this would be mummy.

A Bilingual Household

I'm a Dutch Mama Not an English MummyI speak English to my sons. The idea was always that they would then speak English back to me. It’s an ongoing battle experiment.

However, my kids have always called me mama, not mummy.

I’m not sure I ever contemplated being ‘mummy’ to my Dutch sons; I think using the Dutch term mama was a given for some reason. I don’t know if I even consciously decided on my kids using mama instead of mummy.

I do know that my son called me mummy one day and it felt weird.

I Don’t Feel Like a Mummy!

He had called me mama since the day he could talk and after an extended trip to the UK, he came out suddenly with mummy.

I didn’t react instantly because it took a second to realise he was actually addressing me.

I corrected him with “mama” and he looked confused. Everyone else in England had used mummy when referring to me – “Shall we see if your mummy wants to do that?” “Maybe ask your mummy before you eat that.” So he had adopted it and begun using it back in the Netherlands. To my surprising dismay.

I think I got used to hearing mama from him so when he used mummy it sounded alien.

I later realised that I prefer being called mama because it reminds me of who we are as a family; my children are Dutch and no matter what my background is, they are more Dutch than they will ever be British. That’s our family. Multicultural, but Dutch at its core.

Over to You: What do your children call you? Do you use terms from your host or birth country?


8 thoughts on “I’m a Dutch Mama Not an English Mummy”

  1. I am a Dutch mama! A little more helicopter and tiger than the average Dutch mama but definitely not American or Japanese. When my kid calls me Mommy, to try it on for size, I cringe….


  2. My kids both call me Papa. In the beginning I was a little sad that they didn’t call me Daddy but I’ve come to realize it does not matter. In their eyes I am Papa and in many ways that is better because that is what they have choosen to call me. It feels more earned then akwardly trying to guide them towards the English version.

    It was funny though when our daughter went through a stage of calling me Pappy. The logic made sense. Mama = Mummy so Papa = Pappy.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. For my sister and me, growing up in an American foreign service family in Europe and Latin America meant we used one language in the outside world (Italian or Spanish) and American English at home. We both spoke Spanish as our first language as a result of being babies and toddlers in Venezuela being cared for by a wonderful Spanish woman, so the intimate world of a foreign language has always been very dear.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Irish mama here in the Netherlands and my older kids called me a sort of hybrid of Mom and Mam. Definitely not Mum. Sometimes they exaggerate their Irish accent for the laughs. My 3 year calls me Mama which I love. I’m not sure how long he will keep it up but he just might as dutch school is coming soon!

    Liked by 1 person

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