If you’ve been noticing collages of moms with their kids cropping up on Facebook recently, you may be wondering, “What is the Motherhood Challenge?” In short, it’s an online “challenge” asking mothers to post photos that “make them happy to be a mother.” And depending on how you feel about these posts, you’re probably thinking one of two things: Either “I love this challenge! How can I join in?” or “I HATE this challenge! How do I burn it in a fire?” Here’s the rundown:
Anyone who is familiar with the Ice Bucket Challenge, the Kylie Jenner Lips Challenge, or either of the two (yes, two) condom challenges knows that the interwebs love nothing more than viral challenges of any sort. The “Motherhood Challenge” is a lot less physically dangerous and stupid than some of these previous tests of “bravery” (or whatever it is that leads someone to pull a condom through their nose); for this challenge, women post a series of photos that “make them happy to be a mom” and then they nominate a few other moms that they admire to post their own photos. The Independent reports that the meme has been going viral for about a week. Studied with a charitable eye, this trend might be considered a fun way to celebrate moms and the hard work they do. For more cynical onlookers, the Motherhood Challenge becomes a rather ugly way for moms to compete with other moms or to lord one’s status as a mother over people who don’t have kids.
The Motherhood Challenge might seem sweet and harmless on the surface (and, judging by the numbers of women who have participated, many moms feel like it’s just that), but the challenge has proved to be polarizing, among both moms and non-moms alike. An article for Good To Know, for example, asks of the challenge, “Sweet, smug, or insensitive?” In an article for the Guardian, Flic Everett writes, “Facebook’s motherhood challenge makes me want to punch my computer screen.” She continues,
The most offensive aspect of this is the idea that it’s a “challenge” at all. A challenge is coping with grief when you wish you were dead, or pushing your mind and body to the limit in a feat of superhuman endurance. It’s not posting a few snaps of your toddler and waiting for your friends to type “aw gorgeous hun xxx” underneath. And it’s unclear whether the challenge in question is to prove what a great mother you are, or merely to challenge your friends to prove that they are too.
Others have taken to Twitter to complain that the Motherhood Challenge is insensitive to women who struggle with infertility or mental health; some have simply argued that the posts are self-congratulatory and annoying.
Following the grand tradition of the Internet, a number of social media users have approached the Motherhood Challenge with a heavy dose of irony, creating parody photo-collages. British comedian Ellie Taylor posted a collage of “5 pics that make me happy to be a non-mother” on Monday, and others have followed suit.
So far, the Motherhood Challenge has been focused primarily on Facebook, but people have also started taking the challenge — and thus the snark, too — to Twitter and Instagram.