Facebook’s ‘Motherhood Challenge’ is waging a war. According to journalist, Flic Everett, it’s offensive and competitive. And those who take part are making other mums feel bad with their happiness and smugness.
Are we smug?
Anyone who is a regular reader of my blog knows that I am pretty honest about motherhood. You’re more likely to read about my failings than my triumphs. And that’s not just because we seem to have more of the former in our house.
Everett blames the rise of the ‘Mummy blogger’ for making it hard ‘to admit to finding motherhood painful or depressing, or wanting to crack your wailing child over the head with its capriciously flung egg spoon.‘ Really? She clearly isn’t reading my blog or any of the parenting blogs, I read. She also blames the ‘Mumpreneur who just couldn’t find the right softness of cot blanket, so made them herself from possum fur and appeared on Dragon’s Den.’ Wow.
Frankly, that latter comment is just insulting. I’m inspired by mums who create off the back of their own experiences and launch successful businesses like my friend, Steph from Don’t Buy Her Flowers and numerous others.
Also? Everett obviously missed the memo about Mumpreneurs generating £7 billion for the UK economy.
Or maybe she’s just gutted she isn’t one of them.
I’m not offended.
I haven’t taken part in the Motherhood Challenge.
It’s not because I find the idea offensive or haven’t been tagged. I have. I just haven’t gotten around to it. Likewise, there’s plenty of friends who haven’t tagged me. I’m not offended by this, either. I don’t think they must think I’m a crap mum. It just hasn’t occurred to me to think like that.
And personally, I’ve enjoyed seeing my friends’ photos. I know that lots of these friends have had a hard time in the past and I’m pleased to see them have an opportunity to celebrate themselves and their kids.
To remember that there have been good times.
The dark side of social media.
As with everything on social media, if you want to be on it you have to take the good AND the bad. There is always going to be something you don’t want to see.
I remember when I miscarried our third child and, two days later, a friend posted her 12 week scan picture on Facebook. When I saw it, I felt like I’d been punched in the stomach. But this friend had been trying for a baby for three years. I already had two healthy children. This friend didn’t deserve my grief. And I hated that I reacted like that, that I felt so bitter and sad because, deep down below all that grief, I was so happy for them. So, I took control. And I came off of all social media. For weeks. Until I felt stronger. Until I knew that I could handle whatever Facebook chose to throw at me.
As for mums who have lost children or women struggling to conceive, I totally get how this ‘challenge’ must be hard to see. And I am so, so sorry for this. You should read Leigh Kendall’s opinion of the challenge who blogs at Headspace Perspective. She lost her premature baby, Hugo at 35 days old, after he was born at 24 weeks. Her article is much more balanced than Everett’s, she comes from a place most of us can’t even imagine and, whilst she’s not a fan of the challenge, she understands its foundation and considers it from all angles. She heartbreakingly admits, ‘No one has tagged me, I am an awesome mum, and I am always really chuffed, as a mother of no living children when people remember I am a mum.’
The fact remains that we can’t control what we see on social media. But by being on Facebook, Instagram or any other platform, we are giving our consent to see anything.
Mums can’t win.
The response to the Motherhood Challenge is yet another indication that us mums just can’t win.
We get attacked if we’re too honest about motherhood and asked why we can’t be grateful and show the ‘happy’ side. My friend, BrummyMummyof2 runs the hilarious weekly Wicked Wednesdays link, where you post a picture of your tantruming child. You don’t get much more real than that, right? Yet, she’s been criticised in the past for showing this side of motherhood.
So, world. What do you want from us? Do you want us to be honest and real or happy and smug? Because I’m getting mixed messages.
Here’s an idea. How about you stop trying to censor us and let us post what we like. And participate in what we like?
And ignore what we don’t like?
A picture speaks a thousand words?
Before I go, I want to share a picture with you.
This picture is one of my favourites. It’s the first picture we had as a family of five.
When this picture was taken, I was six months into treatment for PND. We’d gone away for a few days to the New Forest. And it’s the first time I remember feeling better and thinking, ‘we’re going to get through this.‘
This picture wasn’t a ‘cover’ for pretending that my life was perfect, when it wasn’t. I wasn’t hiding behind a false image. It was a photo that I loved and wanted to share with my friends. This was one very small moment in time. Would I have been more real if I’d shared a picture of me sobbing in a ball on the floor, when I was at my lowest? No. Because this picture is as real as that one would have been. And, such is life, I will always remember the very hardest of times, with or without a photo. But sometimes, I do need reminding of the good.
And frankly? If anyone’s naive enough to believe that one happy picture sums up an entire life, if someone’s pictures on Facebook or Instagram make them feel that inadequate, then it’s probably time to opt out.
Until they feel stronger.