Parenting is about what you do, not what you are

My Facebook page has recently been flooded with posts about the #motherhoodchallenge. I though that this had died back in February but it’s back.

And it’s morphed.

Originally, participants were asked to post a  picture that made them “happy to be a mum”. So far, so Facebook. Pretty shit for anyone who doesn’t want or is not able to be a parent. Not remotely inclusive of fathers, or grandparents or aunts and uncles who parent as well. Hard work for anyone not enjoying parenthood.  And it’s not actually a challenge, is it, if you wanted to have kids and then you had kids and then you love those kids and then you posted a picture on Facebook of those kids? But fine. While it was mindless, it was probably no worse than endless pictures of their children anyway.

But now I’m seeing, “I’ve been challenged to post a picture that makes me proud to be a mum.”

What the hell does that mean?

Not “proud of my kids”. Not “proud of how I parent”. Certainly not “proud of me”. Just “proud to be a mum”.

Being a mother is not something to be intrinsically proud of. Sperm + egg = baby. It’s biology. You pushed a baby out your foof? Great. Animals do it all the time. You don’t need skills or talent. Sorry, love, but you’re one of millions.

Parenting is about what you DO, not what you ARE. It’s about the thought that goes into how you raise your child,  about the experiences you create with them, about the people you invite to share their life. It’s about the hundred good and bad things you do each day that impact on your kids. It’s not about procreation.

If you have children, there are lots of things that you could be proud of.

You can simply be proud of your kids. Because they did something exceptional, or displayed the qualities and values you appreciate.

You can be proud of the fact you and your partner supported and loved each other through the terrible journey of infertility until a pregnancy took.

You can be proud of the fact you took a decision to adopt or foster a child and give them a chance they might not have had otherwise.

You can be proud of the fact you have fought to keep your kids through a divorce, and that they still see you smile nicely at the other parent.

You can be proud of the strength you and your child demonstrate when they’re in hospital again.

You can be proud your child defends your gender identity and sexual preferences to the haterz and that they learnt that from you.

You can be proud of the fact you get up every day and feed and wash and play with your children through crushing depression, or that you fed your body and your baby despite the voices in your head telling you not to eat.

But don’t just be proud “to be a mum”. Because it devalues all the work you and millions of other parents do.

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