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The online death of the cult of contented motherhood

When we were trying to have a baby, which took ages, I felt assailed by online writing about the completion motherhood had brought. It seemed that only the presence of a child validated lives. Articles were full of feminine fulfilment and joy. It made me feel even more convinced that my one shot at true happiness was to have a baby. Obviously, I didn’t help the way I felt, but it did seem quite empowering to believe that having children was full of good times along side the new and difficult.

Two years later, and now I’m a blogger myself, and I’m seeing a different path being cut through the blogosphere. It seems the online death of the cult of contented motherhood is happening and a new era is dawning.

The new, often preferred badge of honour now is of weary dislike and irritation. It’s the step beyond the well-trodden path of daring to mention that being a mum is hard. It’s saying that your kids are making your life hard, with purpose. They irritate you on a personal level, to the extent they require mocking. It’s the underlying implication that they drag you down, crash your otherwise soaring vibe and, on the way, have wrecked intimate parts of you with wilful destruction. It’s the opposite of humble bragging. I’m bewildered by it.

I want to believe is, it’s done for laughs. For Likes. For Shares. I write for Buzzfeed occasionally, so I know the value of a good ‘stare and share’ scroll-through list of snark. It’s not the reality. It can’t be, surely? But the style of the cult of anti-motherhood seems to get more ‘me too’ comments than anything else. It seems to be bringing so much online solace – hundreds of ‘so true’ and ‘nailed it’ comments. So is this how we’re all feeling, and why has it suddenly changed? Why is parenthood making us so cross with our kids and our roles as parents?


Writing this (and just reading 30 seconds ago that the Duchess of Cambridge had a little girl today) has made me love you even more, Tibby. My love for you is an open book and I can’t wait for every single chapter. I’ve added this picture because it makes me smile every time I look at it, because I told you both to get ready for a walk and this is what you and Mack did. You both look so adorably serious.


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  1. I don’t get it! I mean we all know parenting is hard, that toddlers have tantrums over ridiculous things and that some days we want to drink wine at lunchtime and sure it’s good to know we aren’t alone on the bad days. It’s even okay for some women to not enjoy being a stay at home mum and choose to go back to work but to make out like every part of looking after children is such a chore seems very odd! x

  2. Diana Diana

    I just saw this post as Jess shared it on facebook and had to comment to say I totally agree. As a mum of a wonderful, exhausting, hilarious and cheeky toddler, I totally accept that not every day perfect, and some days I’m tired, she’s ratty and we’re a pair of grumps…however, she’s my daughter, I bought her into this world and I love her – unconditionally. I hate reading these blogs where mums basically complain about having their children, it makes for uncomfortable reading. I think they go too far. Of course it’s ok to have a bit of a whinge and moan, but they make out that it’s all a pain and it’s such a bore. It’s just a bit much in my opinion.

  3. Sometimes I read this type of thing and just cringe. Don’t they realise that their children might see it one day? I’m sure much of it is exaggerated but at what cost? I’m not sure when it became fashionable to not like your own children but it isn’t a trend that I’m about to follow. There’s something quite distasteful and attention seeking about it all. Ugh.

  4. Totally agree! I am definitely in the camp of being honest about finding some things tough – because I do – but I have read some things that talk constantly about family life without even a hint of warmth – it’s bizarre to me too, but I assume there is a lot of exaggerating for comic effect and the agreement and shares are from thinking ‘I find it hard sometimes so let’s laugh about it.’

    It is a line that is quite a fine one to tread I think, between being funny and light hearted to completely negative about being a family and raising children… almost like it is not cool to show you love them.

    Brilliant photo by the way – adorable.

  5. I think the most worrying thing about this new trend is what you point out as being the badge of honour attached to disliking your role as a mum or your kids. I’ve said this elsewhere but I love reading posts that are HONEST. I am all about the honesty when it comes to parenting. But, just like in life generally, if we always focus on the negative, we’ll drag ourselves down (and everyone else with us). I have found being a mum EFFING hard. Like really hard in ways I could never have predicted. But I love my daughter with every cell in my body. And I’d never slag her off, in order to get likes or shares. Great great post, Eleanor.

  6. I read this post at the weekend and really enjoyed it – well said missus! I don’t want to pretend parenting was all a walk in the park but I don’t want to fill my days with negativity either.

  7. Great post and I am inclined to agree. I can see that mostly it is done for humorous resins, and good writers can make the mundane complaining sound witty and engagingly hilarious, but at the same time, I do wonder, if motherhood is really that hard, maybe it is time to look in the mirror? Or adjust expectations?

    I’ve found motherhood quite natural and easy, but I can understand why it is challenging at times. Just maybe if you try to look more on the good and positive sides of motherhood it might become easier if you are finding it tough? A bit mor positive thinking and less snarking might make it much more fun being a mum 🙂

  8. There is a line between humorously being honest about the difficulty of family life and just bitching about kids. I worry that getting caught up in this kind of “badge of honour” negativity feeds into us being a bit disrespectful of our children.

  9. I love this post. I agree with every word. Motherhood is a fabulous thing. My Lil G isn’t a #%^* he’s a gorgeous little boy, growing, learning, loving. It’s challenging but often that’s just for a few moments, a day, week or month. The most challenging part for me is being a full time working mum. That’s not his fault. I’m often outstounded by some of the posts I read where mothers are being so rude and non chalont about the role of being a mother. As someone who doesn’t have parents in my life, I completely value the importance of my role. To be supportive. Loving and more importantly understanding x

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