The Glorification Of Motherhood. Where Do You Stand?

When I started this blog, River was tiny and her moments felt like so many of my moments. While I didn’t confine myself into that one role, this space became one to document it. I didn’t seek out a monetary gain, and the term Mommy Blogger made my knees shake. From the start, I tried to infuse my life’s passion and career as a stylist, while also sharpening any writing abilities I had. Of course, it took learning what I didn’t know, and a lot of growing…

…. SO much growing over the past five years. I’ve made many mistakes, but I think what I cling to is the reality that I barely thought about any of it. I just did what I did. And everything that comes out of this space is an extension of my natural self. There is no tallying of numbers, likes, no Instagram comment pyramid, and definitely no staging of my children.

As someone who is passionate about mental health, I truly worry about the underlying crisis that is developing within staging, overthinking, using each other for image opportunities, false claims of hardships or glorification of a position (motherhood) that is down right exhaustive. I worry about the script everyone is creating. And I wonder, just as a natural worrier, what wounds does this behavior leave on children? On those that are truly in it, rather than being of it–as a person of the times when it was a thing. What emotional bruises of mom’s lack, or self worth in imagery, rather than in reality, may this leave on little guys and ladies?

The blog’s mission has always been one in which it had to be a space for me to share my version of honest motherhood, without divulging the hardships of my children (that don’t belong to me). It hasn’t been tricky because through and through, it is the way I view motherhood. They’re people. I’m a person. And so, what I share and what I don’t represents that. In a sense, honoring that is true freedom in this delicate and gigantic space.

So on this Wednesday night, when I’ve spent the last two work days staring at my babies, apologizing for what I’ve done, and what I didn’t, and what I will and won’t do one day in the future, I want to know:

Where Do You Stand On This Topic? Without judging mothers (we are all struggling enough), and as someone who does share her children in her own unique sense, what worries you about the glorification of motherhood for a sense of self-worth and/or social media notoriety?

And not as a space in which we may feel a sense of camaraderie  but as a space in which our awareness and worth is confined in squares and notifications?

(Photo by Heather Moore for Dóen)

17 thoughts on “The Glorification Of Motherhood. Where Do You Stand?

  • Reply Olivia September 28, 2017 at 3:59 am

    I have been thinking a lot about this over the last few years. Parenting is one of the hardest and most rewarding things I've ever done, and I learned very early on not to compare my child (children now, but at the time I had one) to other kiddo's developmental milestones, and as lifestyle blogs/social media have evolved in that same time span (my oldest is 8), I have to be very intentional with not comparing all aspects of my life to other people. I love how social media can connnect us, inspire us, uplift us. But it also has the power to filter out the negatives- ie, staging and what not, and it can be painful if we as consumers aren't in a headspace to not take it personally (like, why doesn't my house look like that, or why aren't my children that well behaved). I think it's a process, and I hope that as we get further along, we'll be more equipped to see these moments as a blip on the radar and not take it personally.

  • Reply Sam F. September 28, 2017 at 2:32 pm

    As a first time mom one month away from welcoming baby girl into our lives, this topic is something I have wrestled with even before becoming pregnant. I know I have yet to be a mother in the sense I have not had to do the hard work of parenting just yet, but I have to admit the vast majority of portrayals of motherhood I find in the social media space has made me incredibly anxious. There seems to be a glorification of the difficulty, exhaustion, complete inattention to self and one's own needs separate from being a mother. I fully anticipate seasons of this type of difficulty but then I pause and beat my self up for being "unrealistic" about the commitment that motherhood truly is and the lifelong "sacrifice" it takes to parent well. I want to jump headlong into the hard but worthy things in life – motherhood, marriage, relationship, career- but I do so in full anticipation of the hard parts with expectation of enjoying the wonderful things that accompany the difficulty. I worry about the constant reflection and very public documentation of the hardship of motherhood and how this potentially could affect our children as they look back on the record of their lives through our social media. But I also worry about how we welcome other women into the tribe of mothers and what the expectation is on women to either find absolute fulfillment in motherhood or to be depleted, exhausted and discouraged by their role as mother.

  • Reply Alicia September 28, 2017 at 2:42 pm

    I'm a mom of two. My oldest just started 2nd grade, so we're still in the "little" years. I also work full time as our family breadwinner, am an introvert who needs quiet alone time, and have a lot of outside hobbies and passions. What concerns me about the glorification of motherhood–and I think you have the right phrase there–is its emphasis on complete maternal sacrifice. It is all about the kids: entertaining them, non-stop being with them, etc. It ignores the mother as a person who *didn't stop being that person* when she had kids. Yes, it is hard to carve out time for outside interests but the expectation that everything you love and brings you joy has to go out the window once you have kids is so destructive. Imagine if you never had time away from your romantic partner, even a few hours to enjoy a hobby or meet up with other friends. For some reason in this country we hear "mother" and then ignore everything else about the woman. I think that attitude impacts our parental leave policies, child care access, post-partum services, and more.

  • Reply erin September 28, 2017 at 6:21 pm

    Love Alicia's thoughts here. I worry *a lot* about the glorification of motherhood. And I worry about the pass we give to fathers by talking about motherhood as a rarified experience that only women have access to. I want to talk about *parenthood.* I really appreciated this oped on the subject (if you can get past the inflammatory headline, the meat of the piece is really thoughtful):

  • Reply Suzy September 28, 2017 at 7:05 pm

    Wow, this gives me pause. I consider myself a fairly sensitive, self-aware person, but it never occurred to me that my children's struggles are their own and not mine to share. Lightbulb! I'm certainly guilty of this, as I've made mention of my son's coordination disorder on IG. I have also documented the stellar messes my sons have made, my exhaustion and overwhelm and mentioned my history of depression. Not to glorify the bad in life or motherhood, but just in the interest of being real. I don't have an aspirational feed (maybe that's why I have so few followers!) but I'm not interested in editing my life or sculpting it to fit a certain mold or expectation or to court followers or prospective sponsors. I do think all the seeming perfection can be damaging. I try to check in with myself for IG temperature readings… if certain people make me feel less than or icky in any way, I stop following them. Life is hard enough without constant reminders that you're not living your life as "well" or successfully as so-and-so. Plus it does detract from actual, you know, LIVING (pretty counter intuitive!) so I try to not be on my phone too much. But thank you for reminding me of the effect of our posts on our kids. Maybe that joke about hoping my youngest stays out of jail wasn't the smartest thing to post…! Like anything, I suppose there is a tenuous balance between avoiding contrivance and being self-indulgently real. Definitely food for thought.

  • Reply Alison Ness September 28, 2017 at 7:26 pm

    Very unexpectedly I found myself with wet eyes after reading this. It's landing in that "who am I? what is my worth? am I a good mother? Is my mothering authentic? Am I authentic?" – place. I so often wonder, would I even have these worries if not for this 21st century world of in-your-face "perfectionism" through social media? The truth is I don't know… but deep down a voice inside tells me I wouldn't. So often I tell myself it's okay to scroll through these lives and long for those images to appear in my own home because it keeps me moving forward, or out of a creative rut or whatever other nonsense I try to convince myself of. But at the end of the day I know truly this perfection is creating a monster in my mind, the kind of monster that says I'm not enough – that says my child's life isn't as magical, or calm, or organized as someone else child's life. And that's just not healthy. Feeling this emotional reaction to this post is leaving me with so much food for thought. I'm grateful for that.

  • Reply Alison Ness September 28, 2017 at 7:30 pm

    Yes! I love the way you connected this glorification of motherhood into the way policies surrounding childcare, parental leave etc. are made! I think you're right on about that. This is giving me so much to think about.

  • Reply Johnna LaFaith October 6, 2017 at 12:24 am

    Would you mind terribly if I sent you an email about this? I have what feels like 2 separate life times and 2 separate experiences to share. I really admire you as a mother but even more so as a woman and a force of femininity and intelligence in this world. I'd love to have a chat with you… if you aren't too busy. And I DO KNOW you are busy… such is life. But when you have the time, maybe. Love to you, you beautiful human.

  • Reply LaTonya Yvette October 11, 2017 at 1:25 pm

    HinJohanna! Yes!! Shoot me an email!

  • Reply Jenny November 2, 2017 at 5:09 am

    I came across your blog after it was mentioned in the recent Times article on The Goddess Myth, and I'm so glad. I have a 5 month old baby boy. Last night I was up every 3 hours soothing him back to sleep, when just the night before he'd slept for 9 glorious hours in a row. 4 a.m. is truly when I plumb the depths of self-doubt as a mom. What is wrong with me that my baby won't sleep? Am I ruining his sleep habits for life? And why is he the only 5 month old baby on my Facebook feed who isn't rolling over and sitting up? Am I failing?

    And yet I know that I'm playing my part in social media. We moved away from our friends and family for work so I use Facebook and Instagram to disseminate pics of our son. I get a thrill from friends liking and commenting on his pictures, and it's a great way to stay connected, but I worry that I'm putting pictures out there into the world without his consent, which will be out there forever.

    My husband is wonderful and does so much (cleaning, cooking, errands, etc.) while I'm breastfeeding our slooooow-eating son, but at 4 am I seriously consider switching to pumping/formula so that life is easier, so that I have more time to be a person with hobbies and interests instead of a walking milk factory, and then I wrestle with the guilt of even considering it. And I know that this is tied to the glorification of breastfeeding and "natural" motherhood. There was nothing natural about the conception of our son (husband had surgery to extract sperm, then we did IVF) or his birth (induction, failed epidural, unplanned c-section). Our baby is happy and healthy, and most days I don't care that I'm not living up to the standards of ideal motherhood that FB and Insta tell me I should live up to. But some days (nights?) I do.

    My response is all over the place, but I just want to add that the commenters above have such great insights and are putting words to feelings and thoughts that I haven't always been able to encapsulate.

  • Reply Amy Griffith November 2, 2017 at 5:09 am

    Thank you Latonya for your wise and human words of truth. I am pregnant with my second, venturing into a new business project, and trying to still find myself as me and as a mother at 35. Your words aren't overarching, they aren't words that make me feel like I can do more or that I am not enough. Thank you one million times over for your voice. Thank you, thank you, thank you. – Amy G.

  • Reply Laz November 2, 2017 at 5:09 am

    Totally agree. I'm also the primary breadwinner in my family while my husband stays home and has a few side incomes. I do think more women are taking time for themselves or at least trying. And it gets easier as the kids get older. I feel a lot less guilty for going running, attending happy hours or spending an afternoon on the weekend reading now that my kids are more independent (3 and 8).

  • Reply Laz November 2, 2017 at 5:09 am

    I urge you to seek out mom friends, especially ones that like their kids (and if you are a working mom, especially other working moms) because real motherhood is … complicated. Its exasperating and all consuming and at times transcendent and fun. I have a very hard time connecting with most of the portrayals of moms in the media and "mommy bloggers" on social media because being a working mom is very different than this. I like my kids. I get exasperated with them (they're 3 and 8) sure but honestly I only get to see them for 3 hours a day and then on the weekends, so a lot of the complaints stay at home moms have are frankly just not something I am annoyed by. And honestly, some things you just have to go through. Everyone reacts to parenthood differently.

  • Reply Mutaleni November 2, 2017 at 5:09 am

    Ms LaTonya, have your read 'Feminist Theory: from margin to center' by bell hooks? Chapter 10: Revolutionary Parenting. Amazing reflections on feminism and the romanticization of motherhood.

    Loved this post! As a mama and a blogger/instagrammer I value the fact that we share our lives so openly… my job is not to judge others, rather to align myself with those whose values mirror mine. I enjoy sharing the sweet, the mundane, the wonder and the impermanence of childhood (my children's). Your putting forth this topic is essential, as creators or producers of content we have to take stock and reflect on the impact of our work/feeds ever so often.

    Keep up the beautiful work!

  • Reply Georgia February 9, 2018 at 10:46 pm

    Just the act of reading a post like this from such a prolific blogger gives me a sigh of relief. Thank you for your honesty. In the world of perfectly curated insta-algorithms, I think more Mommas such as yourself need to be open about this issue. Can't thank you enough for sharing.


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