Pre-Order So God Made a Mother


My baby girl turns one next week. For the very first time, we’ll be able to measure her age in actual years, not just months. Like, whoa. We’ve made it a goal to keep her first birthday celebration simple. I’ve talked about it on my blog, with friends, and with my husband. I’ve hashed out all the reasons why it’s important to me to have a celebration, but not go crazy-Pinterest-mommy over it. What I haven’t said, however, is that I actually feel guilty about that.

Before you go all preachy on me, know this: I realize that it’s silly to feel bad about not giving my kid a Pinterest-perfect first birthday party. That’s not what’s important in life. I know, I get it.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t feel like we’re missing out on something. Call it selfishness, call it a sign of cultural degradation, call it plain ridiculous: I feel like I’m missing out on creating some special memory by not buying my newly-minted 1-year-old a pretty dress and a fancy toy; by not putting together a themed party complete with favors and an elaborate dessert table; by not paying a photographer to take smash cake photos. Despite feeling convicted to search for a simpler way to celebrate, I actually worry that I might regret it at some point down the line.

I know in my heart that the elaborate spectacle of an event isn’t right for us. I know my little girl won’t even remember it when she grows up. I know my urge to overdo it stems largely from a desire to impress our friends. I know there are better things we could do with that money, people we could help. I know all that, and I know they’re very good reasons to keep it simple. But…

But our friends did it for their kid. But it wouldn’t be that hard. But I’m good at party planning. But the pictures would be cute. But it would be a chance to work with handmade shop owners. But I could feature it on the blog. But she only turns 1 once. But the first birthday is a big deal. But , but, but.

There are a thousand “but”s racing around in my head. And nearly every one of them is a result of that fear of missing out. Of not keeping up. Of being left out and left behind.

The fear (FOMO, if you will) drives so much of what we do these days. Pinterest, while a wonderful tool, has wormed its way into our consciousness and made us feel like we’re bad moms if we don’t measure up to the perfection we pin. Competition and comparison eat away at our insides and drive us to outdo the moms in our play groups. To DIY elaborate decorations and bake cake sculptures that would impress Martha Stewart herself. To fill kids’ rooms (and playrooms, which I definitely didn’t have growing up) with more toys than they could possibly play with, and then work all day to keep them entertained instead of turning them loose to entertain themselves. All in the name of creating a magical childhood for the littles we love.

It’s not that there’s something wrong with wanting to give our kids joy and adventure. There’s nothing wrong with providing treats now and again. But there is something wrong with needing to do that—with being unable to remember that there’s a line between need and want, and pursuing all the wants with abandon.

Back to that birthday party. To me, the need is to gather together with the people we love and celebrate a whole year of love and family. A whole year of that little blonde head and chubby baby cheeks. A whole year of snuggles and giggles and banana mess in the high chair. For me, that fellowship and celebration is a need.

But the wants are the things that creep in around the edges. The birthday crown, the special cake toppers, the gold glitter and the themed decorations… they would be so easy to reach for. After all, we’re already having a party. Go big or go home, right?

No. It’s time to clearly delineate the difference between the needs and the wants and to choose to say no to the wants. It’s time to commit to a simpler way of life–one that is focused on what we have more than what else we wish we had. Most of all, best of all, it’s time to let go of the fear of missing out and embrace the beautiful moments right in front of us. It’s time to just live life–messy and broken, not always picture-perfect, but perfect in its own way.


So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available for pre-order now!

Pre-Order Now

Kenzie Swanson

Kenzie Swanson is the blogger behind Hello Neverland She’s also a wife, mom, Etsy shop owner, and avid journal writer. She likes her books printed on paper and her coffee hot. She’s shy and messy and can’t cook to save her life. Originally from Iowa, Kenzie has settled into life in Nebraska pretty well—she’s even embraced the crazy that is football Saturday in Lincoln (well, mostly). She spends her time working her day job, chasing her wee kiddo, and starting (and sometimes even finishing) crafty projects of all kinds.

Dear Daughter, It’s Okay If You Hate Me Right Now

In: Kids, Motherhood, Teen, Tween
Teen girl looking up at mother

Dear daughter: I’ve heard it from you a thousand times when you don’t get your way. You yell it when your force of will doesn’t bend mine, thinking it will convince me to give in. But I’m here to tell you once and for all: I don’t care if you hate me right now. Last night you hated me because I made you take a bath before bed. This morning, it was because I made you wear pants. I’m the worst mom ever because I told you to eat a vegetable, and the whole day is ruined because I won’t...

Keep Reading

You’re Learning Life by Watching Me

In: Kids, Motherhood
Child touching mother's face as they lie on a bed

Every morning my daughter and I go outside for some fresh air. She feeds her chickens and plays and explores and walks around with her dog while I follow her around and have a cup of coffee.  This morning, my girl grabbed one of her coffee cups from her toy kitchen and brought it outside with her while she walked with her dog and pretended to take sips out of it.  Guys. I stood there watching her with her toy coffee cup, walking around with her animals, and I cried giant baby tears.  RELATED: I Wasn’t Counting On You Growing...

Keep Reading

Sometimes Love Means Slowing Down

In: Friendship, Kids
Two boys on bicycles riding to park, shown from behind

Think of something faster than a 7-year-old boy on a two-wheel bike. Maybe a race car at the drop of the checkered flag? Perhaps a rocket ship blasting into space? Or how quickly a toddler mom books it out of the house after being told she can have a hands-free hour ALONE in Target. Yes, all of these things are seriously speedy, but I have still never seen anything quite as quick as a boy on a bike on a sunny day with endless open track ahead of him. Until today. Today, my 6-year-old son wanted to ride bikes with...

Keep Reading

3 Ways to Help Your Firstborn Embrace Becoming a Big Brother

In: Baby, Kids, Motherhood, Toddler
Pregnant woman holding toddler son, color photo

My oldest son turned four right after his first brother was born. Four years of alone time with his parents. Four years of extra mommy time during the week. Four years of having toys to himself, extra attention from family members, and more. I didn’t plan a four-year age gap; it took our family a lot longer and a lot more help than we expected to have our second son, but age gaps aren’t everything. When my second son was finally on the way, I heard a lot of opinions about how our oldest son would feel once he finally...

Keep Reading

I Am a Wrestling Mom

In: Kids, Motherhood
Three young boys with wrestling medals, color photo

As the sun is rising on a frigid winter morning, a brave and determined group of athletes are weighing in at a high school gym. They are physically and mentally preparing for a long day spent at a tournament where they will spend only minutes wrestling, despite the hours they sit and wait all day. Their sport uses offense, defense, and mental strength unlike any other sport. My sons and nephew are wrestlers. They are part of a special team of athletes who work together but compete as individuals.           Their youth team is run by all volunteer coaches with...

Keep Reading

Dear Busy Sports Mom: It’s Worth It

In: Kids, Motherhood, Tween
Mom watching soccer game, photo from behind

My daughter stands on the front porch every morning and waves goodbye to me as I pull out of the driveway to go to work.  She is 11, and recently eye-rolling, long sighs, and tears have become more commonplace in our daily interactions. But, there is also this: “Bye! Have a good day!” she calls to me in the quiet of early morning, neighbors not yet awake in their still dark houses. “You are AMAZING! You got this!” she continues in her little adult voice, sounding more like a soccer mom than a fifth grader.   Her hair is still a...

Keep Reading

Goodbye to the Baby Hangers

In: Kids, Motherhood
Shirt hanging from small hanger, color photo

You bought them when you first found out you were pregnant. It may have been one of the first items, actually, to hold all of the precious new clothes. The smallest ones in your household. Do you remember that first newborn onesie you bought? It was one of your favorites. You couldn’t fathom you would soon hold something so small that would fit into that onesie. You washed all of the new clothing in preparation and hung them up in your baby’s closet. You know the item. A miniature version of the ones in your closet. Baby hangers. “Do we...

Keep Reading

Take the Trip, You Won’t Regret It

In: Kids, Living, Motherhood

Two years ago, in the middle of a snowy, windy, Colorado March, my husband and I made the spontaneous decision to road trip to Arizona with our three very young kids.  Even though I was excited, the nerves were so very real. Over the next couple of weeks, I literally lost sleep worrying about the logistics of our trip. My late-night mindless scrolling was replaced by searches like “traveling with toddlers” and “keeping kids entertained on road trips”. We already had our hands full chasing kids at home in a familiar setting. Were we crazy to think we could just...

Keep Reading

They’ll Remember the Love Most of All

In: Kids, Motherhood
Woman with kids from above, pregnant mother with kids hands on belly

You lie in bed at the end of a long day, the events of the day flashing back through your mind. You do this a lot—recap your day as a mama. How did you do? Did you maintain your patience? Did you play enough? Did you limit screen time? Did you yell less today than you did yesterday? You saw a really neat toddler activity in the group you’re a part of on Facebook . . . you should have done that with the kids. They would have loved it. There wasn’t enough time though, and you didn’t have all...

Keep Reading

He’s Slowly Walking Away with Footprints As Big As Mine

In: Child, Kids, Motherhood, Tween
Teen boy walking along beach shore

The true measure of a mother’s love is her willingness to wake up before the sun on vacation. On a recent trip to the shore, my youngest son begged to walk the beach at dawn to look for shells. So, I set my alarm, tumbled out of a warm, king-sized bed with extra squishy pillows, glared at my dead-to-the-world husband, and gently woke my 11-year-old. Without so much as a drop of coffee, we headed out into the morning, the sun still below the ocean horizon. With each step, I shed my zombie-like state and took in the quiet, salt-kissed...

Keep Reading