The motherhood challenge
I'm not a person that shies away from posting pics on social media, though I understand why some do. But when I was 'nominated' this week in Facebooks motherhood challenge (post 4 photos that show how happy you are to be a mother) I had a range of responses. I've enjoyed seeing friends post their pictures, as I generally enjoy their pictures the rest of the time too. Yet my first instinct was to post something rather passive aggressive; photos of our kids, and of those that didn't become our kids, as 100 cell blastocysts sitting in Petri dishes before they were implanted (yes the clinic gives you those pics!) I resisted, but the voice of my teacher, colleague and friend Rabbi Laura Janner Klausner rang in my head from a 2006 class on baby blessings: 'every time you celebrate anything in synagogue it hurts someone else'. And so I haven't posted my 4 pictures.
There's another reason too, and perhaps this is why many of us need to post the happy pictures: being a mother is a challenge! It is a great blessing and joy, but it is also a challenge, and there aren't many places we are allowed to admit that. I could have posted a photo of the potty I emptied this morning, containing the largest poop I think any 3 year old is capable of. Or a photo of me at 11pm, 3am, 5am (on an ok-ish night). There are no pictures for the anxiety about returning to work and the changes that you will have to figure out. I could have posted a picture of my 3 year old brother who became no older. I cannot conceive of how a mother (or father) functions again, other than knowing she must.
Pictures are very subjective and the whole picture is rarely what they offer. Social media is an amazingly wonderful place to share, to celebrate, to keep in touch. But like any community one persons joy is another's pain, and this particular challenge made me too aware of that pain, and I know it is a pain many of you lovely blog readers know personally too. So I celebrate all of you amazing mothers, who put up and bring up and get up, along with your partners when you have them. But I also want to hold those of you who feel the pain of these beautiful pictures, and tell you that you too are wonderful, whole, brilliant people, and your community is holding you even when you don't feel it.