Why the Facebook #MotherhoodChallenge Has Everyone Talking

Image Source: Thinkstock
Image Source: Thinkstock

Anyone who’s on Facebook surely noticed the latest “challenge” sweeping your news feed. The viral #MotherhoodChallenge encourages moms to upload five photos which “make them happy to be a mother” and then nominate five other “great” moms to do the same.

Or in other words: just another example of something pitting women against each other.

Firstly, what if you haven’t been tagged? What if Linda and all the gang from preschool pickup have tagged just about every mom in the class and not you — how does that make you feel? Or your old girlfriends who’ve tagged each other but somehow forgot you. Does that mean you’re not a “great” Mom?

Or, let’s say you were tagged. Do you post the pictures — any excuse to show off your amazing spawn, after all? Or do you ignore it completely, declaring it “just another example of moms being set apart as a special breed who feel superior to other women.”

Because really, when you get to the core of this challenge, what it’s doing is dividing women. Again. As if we needed more encouragement.

There are single women who took the challenge, posting photos of themselves with their cats, “I’m a great Cat Mom — SO THERE!” and others who shared photos of themselves out on the town, “HAVING A LIFE – take that you smug moms!” And you know what, they have a point. There’s something slightly nauseating about posts of someone showing off how great a mom they are. But then again, we should remember that Facebook is usually nauseating. Whether it’s someone posting their new house — “only $1.3 million to buy it!” or their fab vacation — “yes, that’s our private pool” or their gluten-free, vegan dinner — “see what a whizz I am in the kitchen!” it’s all just one big performance. And the motherhood challenge is just another one.

And then, there’s infertile or single women to think about. What of your friend trying to get pregnant, or going though IVF, or furiously dating — desperate to meet Mr. Right to have babies with. How stressful it must be for them to see these challenge posts clogging up their news feed.

Moreover, this whole thing gives women a platform to criticize the choices of other women.

Oh, which tribe are you? The one who gleefully posted five pictures and checked every like? Or the one who just ignored the whole palaver? Are you The Cool Mom who wears Converse and shows up hungover at preschool pickup, or the Apron-Wearing Cupcake-Making mom who prides herself on winning the school bakeoff every year?

In my book, both are pretty amazing. And in all honesty, I feel like every kind of mother.

Some days I am the mom who wants to do crafts with her kids, make my super tacos, and visit the park — twice! Other days I wish I was the single girl of my 20s and could run out the door, drink my body weight in red wine, dance on some tables, and flirt with obscenely young men. My way of mothering is no better or worse than anyone else’s. So if I want to do this challenge – yay me! If I think it sucks – way to go!

I get why some women think this challenge is an adorable idea, a way to show what their kids are up to and how fun being a parent can be. And I get why others think it’s a vomit-inducing chance to show off a “perfect family” and what a “great” mom looks like. But really, isn’t it just Facebook garnering even more column inches over a not-very-original idea: getting us to post a few pictures. Pictures that most of us would share anyway. So, maybe the joke’s on us.

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