I am Mammy, but I’m also Brona.
On Dec the 20th 1986, I was given two special gifts; life and a unique identity. No doubt my parents thought long and hard about my title, it’s meaning and how I would grow with the name. They chose an Irish name, fairly uncommon. I have vivid memories of hiding behind my mother's leg feeling awkward when asked my name knowing full well I’d need to repeat it ten times before it was finally pronounced correctly. Little did I know that there was an expiry date on that name and I should have enjoyed it while it lasted.
Nobody warned me that becoming a mother meant sacrificing one title for another. It started slowly at first; as I tried my hand at breastfeeding the nurse peeked her head around the curtain and asked ‘is Mammy ok?’. I remember thinking I have no idea, maybe I should give my mother a call and find out. Then it dawned on me. I was Mammy. Suddenly I was entrusted with the care and well being of this little person. In that instant I felt myself change, I had just discovered a new layer. I had a greater purpose.
Motherhood consumed me. As soon as baby No.1 was on his feet, I was pregnant with my second son. Little by little I noticed it happen more often; in the playground, at playgroup, standing at the school gates, I would be met with the same overfamiliar question, ’are you Finn and Oisin's mammy?’ and I would happily nod in acknowledgement. My lightbulb moment only happened at my child’s first parent/ teacher meeting when I eagerly introduced myself as Finn's mammy. The teacher smiled and asked 'Does Finn's mammy have a name?' I dug deep and from somewhere almost forgotten, I said my name. How had this happened?
I thought long and hard about my feelings of uneasiness and this is what I concluded. My heart had been stolen by my children, along with the identity of my former self. I had allowed it to happen. I was a shadow of my old self, barely recognisable. I had swapped wild nights out with the girls for wild nights of floor placing and lullabies. Long gone were the glad rags, replaced by leisure wear and items of comfort. Once career driven, I now carry a constant helping of guilt on my heavy shoulders at the thought of leaving my kids each day. A catch up with friends is a token offering of a quick coffee but only after the kid's bedtime. The old me was gone. I wore my mammy title like a badge of honour, and rightly so. Ironically, we recently went through a phase, where the boys called me Brona and honestly it made me sad. I went online and read through many forums seeking advice but in the end, it was a simple explanation that made them come round. I explained that to everyone in the world I am Brona, but only my three kids had the privilege of calling me by my special name, Mammy.
So, to everyone else in the world, allow me to reintroduce myself… I am a complex puzzle made up of many pieces. I am no longer the person you once knew. I have evolved to survive. I have many roles; mammy, wife, daughter, sister, friend, colleague etc.. all of which contribute to the person I am. But yet, I am not defined by a single one. I am Brona. It’s nice to meet you.