When my friend nominated me in a "motherhood challenge" on Facebook the other day, I glanced at her cute photo collage and smiled. It didn't make me angry. I wasn't outraged on behalf of all women, and I certainly didn't feel tempted to punch my computer screen.
It's sad that a positive initiative that started to encourage and support mothers has been twisted into a social media maelstrom. The motherhood challenge nomination is meant to be an uplifting reminder of why we do this parenting thing, day in and day out. It's a virtual thumbs-up to our friends that says, "I know it's tough in the trenches, but let's focus on what's good about raising tiny humans. Let's take a minute and remember the happy parts."
I don't post a constant stream of ultra-positive updates on Facebook because that's just not my reality. My kid doesn't always act like an angel. I am not always #lovinglife. Sometimes I am simply #gettingby. We have good days and challenging days, and most days are a mix of both. I intersperse sweet snaps of my daughter sipping hot chocolate with realistic missives about her super-tantrums.
Motherhood has its fun moments, but the daily grind and Groundhog Day routine can wear us down. I often feel #blessed and #stressed at the same time. Sometimes I need to take a two-minute mental break on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram for myself, just to keep my sanity intact. These brief social media escapes are a fun distraction; they free me from the fact that my living room floor looks like a toy war zone.
But I've also learned that there is value and comfort to be found in reading about other mothers' struggles and experiences online. Sometimes we just want to see a newborn dressed up in an adorable outfit because it gives us a lift. Other times we want to hear about how someone coped successfully with postpartum depression. It depends on our mood at the time, and what we are going through on a personal level.
Parenting is the hardest job in the world. There is nothing wrong with giving each other a virtual slap on the back... As women, we need to prop each other up, not drag each other down.
At the end of the day, the Facebook challenge doesn't make us measure ourselves in an unfair way. We do enough of that on our own. Is there anything wrong with singling out your mum friends to tell them you think they're doing a great job? Hell no. Am I proud to be a mum? Hell yes.
Parenting is the hardest job in the world. There is nothing wrong with giving each other a virtual slap on the back. Sometimes the only performance reviews we get are screamed from the mouths of babes. As women, we need to prop each other up, not drag each other down.
Motherhood is not my only calling, and I don't find it easy. There are times when it feels like the most difficult thing I've ever done. For me, it's a constant challenge. I take it every single day: as soon as I open my eyes in the morning, right until I put my daughter to bed at night.
Follow Tara's story as she writes about finding the poetic moments in the chaos of everyday parenting.
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