This Motherhood Challenge is causing a bit of a hoo-ha isn’t it? So for what it’s worth, I’m throwing in my two pennies’ worth – just because.
I was aware of the Motherhood Challenge doing the rounds on Facebook earlier in the week, just as there’s usually something doing the rounds on Facebook; but I didn’t have particularly strong feelings on it either way. If you’ve missed it, then the text goes something like this:
I was nominated to post 5 pictures that make me happy to be a Mother. I’m tagging people that are great mothers to post 5 pictures for the Motherhood Challenge! I will copy and paste this in the comments below for you. Here are my 5 pictures that make me happy to be a mother.
So I saw lots of photos of friends’ children, all of which were lovely. But generally, the whole thing wasn’t very ‘me’. I like posting photos of my children, but mainly photos of them playing up, or doing something laughably ridiculous. It’s not that I don’t like the happy, smiley photos – I do. I just don’t know if they’re particularly interesting to other people.
Then I read this Guardian article by Flic Everett and, I must admit, I agreed with bits of it (*goes to hide in a corner).
Just bits. Sorry.
I didn’t get her anger towards it – the Motherhood Challenge did not make me want to smash my computer screen. I’m not into mum-bashing – I always like seeing pictures of my friends’ children, and this was no different. Neither did I think my friends who had joined in were being smug. I’m a mum, so I know that every day is a long, hard slog: these pictures do not represent everything about life with children, but the Motherhood Challenge is a way for mums to give each other a pat on the back and celebrate the good bits – I do get the idea.
I just had a couple of issues with it.
One of my issues was the tagging other great mothers part – I couldn’t work out how I would deal with this. I am surrounded by amazing mums – there are fellow school mums, and fellow twin mums, there are old school-friend mums and university mums. What about my own mum and other family members? How could all these mums possibly be whittled down without hurting some feelings along the way? Yes, you might say it’s ridiculous to feel hurt/insulted if you’re not tagged in a Facebook ‘Challenge’, but let’s remember that mums are tired and emotional a lot of the time (or is that just me?). Let’s imagine you’re having a bad day, you feel like a lousy mum anyway, and then and one of your best mum friends has just done this and not included you. A bit hurtful, maybe?
And the other thing is this – I’m just not sure there’s much point to it (sorry). People are posting photos of their children all the time aren’t they? Not only that, but we also have the whole Timehop thing going on so, as well as all the ‘now’ photos, we get everyone’s photos popping up from years gone by. If you’re of my generation, your Facebook timeline is full of photos of everyone’s children at all different stages in their life. So I don’t really see the need for a special ‘challenge’ which just gets people to do what they were doing anyway, but packaged up with slightly different wording. If it reached the non-regular Facebookers then maybe yes, but as far as I can see, the people joining in are the people who post regularly anyway. Which means just more photos, similar to the ones we were seeing already. And if you’re a non-parent, then your already child-heavy newsfeed is suddenly taken over by smiling/cute/cuddly photos of everyone else’s children, which I imagine can get (a bit) tiresome.
So, I did do one, but I put it on my blog page, didn’t tag anyone, and renamed it ‘The Challenge of Motherhood’. These photos, rather than simply showing the joy of being a mum, show what being a mum is actually like for me at the moment. And it’s like this:
It is not having a clue what I’m doing most of the time. It is wondering how to deal with a boy who is refusing to walk and laying himself down on the pavement for no apparent reason. It is the ‘perfect family’ photo never actually materialising because no-one will sit still without crying. It is the ‘after school’ getting everyone back home, through the door, shoes off, coats off chaos.
Of course it is also the love, cuddles and joy that I get from all of my boys, but these come with more than their fair share of frustration and head in hands moments.
So for me, more interesting than the Motherhood Challenge would be the Challenge of Motherhood (or Parenthood, for that matter) – photos showing what parenthood means to you right now. Real life, real parenting, real photos so that we can all laugh and cry and slog it out together. That would be fun.