Facebook motherhood challenge causes controversy

Motherhood is challenging. Finding five cute pictures of your children is not. Nonetheless this has been labelled “The Motherhood Challenge” and it’s the latest Facebook meme to clog up enhance our timelines. 

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If you’ve been living under a rock for the last week, here’s how The Motherhood Challenge works: women are asked to contribute by posting a series of photos that make them “happy to be a mother,” then tag people they think are “great mothers” to post their own pictures.

I’m definitely happy to be a mother but I haven’t taken this challenge, simply because I don’t really see the point in it. Everyone is posting pictures they’ve already shown off on Facebook. Keep scrolling people, nothing new to see!

I don’t see the point of it but it doesn’t bother me. Just like it doesn’t bother me when my running friends use Facebook to go into great detail about their latest 10-mile jaunt, or my politically inclined buddies share their lengthy rants about the failures of our current government on my timeline. That is the beauty of Facebook and, if you don’t like what someone posts, there are things you can do about that.

However The Motherhood Challenge, which was clearly started with only the best of intentions, is bothering a lot of people. Some are women who don’t have children but desperately want to. Some are women who have chosen not to have children. And some are mothers who are struggling and don’t feel as if they are doing a “great” job right now.

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One woman bringing some light relief to the debate is stand-up comic Ellie Taylor, who posted her own personal “Non-motherhood Challenge” images with the caption: “I was nominated by myself to post five pictures that make me happy to be a non-mother. Such special memories.”

It’s been well received with over 114,000 likes and more than 11,000 shares within two days.

“Thank you so much for this,” Lesley McGlone commented. “I was feeling like a bit of a non-motherhood oddball with all the motherhood pictures being posted.”

“Love this,” Clare Bradshaw added. “I actually think Facebook is already full of motherhood moments and we need more photos of women having a good time without their kids.”

Many mothers applauded Taylor’s take on The Motherhood Challenge as well. “Well done,” wrote Martine Lloyd. “I am a mother but I think stupid Facebook challenges like a Motherhood challenge is a load of elitist, patronising s****.”

It’s unlikely that Taylor was trying to make any strong statement with her post but it’s certainly added fuel to the debate. One commenter labelled her “mean,” while others became defensive, such as Kirsty Stevenson, who wrote, “I don’t know why people think having a child is the end of r world or your social life. You still nap, you still get the opportunity to drink, you still have fun. Unless you’re a raging alcoholic who goes out every night, it’s not going to have a dramatic effect on your life [sic].”

My issue with The Motherhood Challenge isn’t the pictures. Mothers (and fathers too) post pictures of their kids on Facebook all the time. My issue is the fact that posting a few snapshots of family life is described as a challenge when it’s definitely not. What is challenging is the daily slog of raising children. Or dealing with crippling post-natal depression during what should be the happiest months or years of your life. For some the challenge is conceiving a baby or seeing a pregnancy to term. For others it’s dealing with people who think a woman is some kind of freak of nature for choosing to remain childfree.

We could also interpret challenge in another way as an invitation to prove or justify something. Is it right to challenge your friends to prove what great mothers they are? If they don’t do it does that make them the opposite of great? And what if nobody tags you — does that mean nobody sees you as a great mother?

By all means, mothers, keep posting pictures of your children on Facebook. But don’t act as if that, in itself, in some kind of challenge to be proud of. Hitting a few buttons on your smartphone doesn’t make you a “great” mum. It’s coping with all the other stuff that does.

What do you think of The Motherhood Challenge? Let us know in the comments below.

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