Pre-Order So God Made a Mother


I am a failure as a parent. My children are doomed. Or at least that is how I feel after scrolling through the rest of your lives on social media.

I don’t know about you, but social media and its tendency to show me everyone else’s parenting successes has brought me to a new kind of parenting depression. In a last-ditch attempt to feel slightly less inadequate, I deleted my Facebook app on my phone (for the second time) so that I can spend less time looking at other parent’s posts about their Harvard-bound children and reside happily inside my own mediocrity.

In fact, I’d like to advocate for a whole new social media platform for parents. We can call it Suckbook, and there we can post all of our children’s failures: the Cs earned on the science tests, our not-so-fond memories of the times they said “I hate you” or the times we lost our minds in the treacherous aisles of the local Wal-Mart.

I know, I know. But you are so proud of your kids. You want to share that pride. You want them to feel good about themselves.

You want to feel good about yourself. You think, look how good my kid is turning out. That must mean that I’m not as messed up as I thought I was.

We all need those reassurances once in awhile that we are not completely ruining our offspring.

But as I scroll through all of that Candyland goodness you post, sometimes, well, most of the time, I just feel unhappy.

You seem like your family life is so much less chaotic than mine. You seem like perfect parents with perfect children, and it’s too easy to forget this is the filtered version of you. That in between that post of you on the shores of another beach on another Hawaiian vacation and the post of your daughter winning the Pulitzer, nearly a whole month of unaccounted time passed. A month of the mundane and boring day-to-day tasks of just living.

It is easy to forget that more than likely, those unaccounted for minutes between posts were filled with just as much snot-sucking and back-talking as mine.

I will tell it to you straight. My Facebook self is an illusion. Her lipstick never bleeds, she’s always wearing makeup and she never wears the faded plaid pajama pants that are a staple of her weekend existence. She takes vacations to the Grand Canyon, California and Walt Disney World, and her photos are carefully chosen from the stack so as not to illustrate any of the many flaws she bemoans in the mirror every morning. That is why she only posts twice a month.

The unwritten rules of social media engagement are to post all of our golden moments on Facebook. I get it. I get that is the expectation, but we leave so much life behind, so much reality. What happens the rest of those days, those weeks, those years in between the beautifully-curated pictures and spell-checked posts? I’ll tell you what: normalcy. Diaper blowouts. Grey hairs. Fights over who takes out the garbage. Snoring. Wrinkles. Bouts of the flu. Tears.

Life. Real life. The emotional exhaustion we experience on the daily. The emotional exhaustion that drives us away from our real lives to spend more time online searching for an escape, searching for fulfillment, yet our clicks and our like buttons only perpetuate the cycle of destruction. Inevitably, no matter what we do, our own lives will fall short in the face of Stepford wives and Stepford lives.

Being a parent is so incredibly hard. My parents made it look so easy. So guilt-free, and I wonder how much of my insanity is self-created, is social media-created. I go online, and with each click, each scroll, I beat myself up with internal dialogue. I need to sign my kids up for league sports, I think. I should try to pack sandwiches shaped like dolphins, I think. I should start to shop organic, I think (before eating another Little Debbie).

Thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s goods, but is it OK to covet their elusive happiness?

For every self-help book I read, for every parenting blog I cry over, I just create another unrealistic set of expectations for myself and for my kids, and the more I think about it, the more I realize how much it hurts all of us, that consistent clicking. That constant comparison.

If I am not too busy looking at a screen, if I really look at these extraordinary beings that once inhabited my body, really look at them, I see beauty. Goodness. Bravery.

I  see the kind of people they will grow up to be: fierce and loyal, creative and kind, full of grit and heart.

And I am proud of every single moment I have been able to witness in their lives because no matter how messy those moments have been, full of tangles and back-talk and mistakes, those moments are what made them.

Those moments are what make me.

I am especially proud of the moments that have not been post-worthy. Those are the hard moments. Those are the real moments.They make up the majority of our lives.

If in this life we are measured by how we spend the majority of our days, then for most of us, we will not be measured by our Facebook posts. They are just the highlight reel. The elusive one percent.

Instead, we’ll be measured by what we do every day when nobody is watching, when no one else sees.

By our small and private acts. The kind of acts that will not earn us likes or shares, but ultimately make us better people.

We are more than the sum of our successes.

And so are our children.

So much more.

Originally published in the Appleton Post Crescent 

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

I Thought Our Friendship Would Be Unbreakable

In: Friendship, Journal, Relationships
Two friends selfie

The message notification pinged on my phone. A woman, once one of my best friends, was reaching out to me via Facebook. Her message simply read, “Wanted to catch up and see how life was treating you!”  I had very conflicting feelings. It seemed with that one single message, a flood of memories surfaced. Some held some great moments and laughter. Other memories held disappointment and hurt of a friendship that simply had run its course. Out of morbid curiosity, I clicked on her profile page to see how the years had been treating her. She was divorced and still...

Keep Reading

The First 10 Years: How Two Broken People Kept Their Marriage from Breaking

In: Journal, Marriage, Relationships
The First Ten Years: How Two Broken People Kept Their Marriage from Breaking

We met online in October of 2005, by way of a spam email ad I was THIS CLOSE to marking as trash. Meet Single Christians! My cheese alert siren sounded loudly, but for some reason, I unchecked the delete box and clicked through to the site. We met face-to-face that Thanksgiving. As I awaited your arrival in my mother’s kitchen, my dad whispered to my little brother, “Hide your valuables. Stacy has some guy she met online coming for Thanksgiving dinner.” We embraced for the first time in my parents’ driveway. I was wearing my black cashmere sweater with the...

Keep Reading

To The Mother Who Is Overwhelmed

In: Inspiration, Motherhood
Tired woman with coffee sitting at table

I have this one head. It is a normal sized head. It didn’t get bigger because I had children. Just like I didn’t grow an extra arm with the birth of each child. I mean, while that would be nice, it’s just not the case. We keep our one self. And the children we add on each add on to our weight in this life. And the head didn’t grow more heads because we become a wife to someone. Or a boss to someone. We carry the weight of motherhood. The decisions we must make each day—fight the shorts battle...

Keep Reading

You’re a Little Less Baby Today Than Yesterday

In: Journal, Motherhood
Toddler sleeping in mother's arms

Tiny sparkles are nestled in the wispy hair falling across her brow, shaken free of the princess costume she pulled over her head this morning. She’s swathed in pink: a satiny pink dress-up bodice, a fluffy, pink, slightly-less-glittery-than-it-was-two-hours-ago tulle skirt, a worn, soft pink baby blanket. She’s slowed long enough to crawl into my lap, blinking heavy eyelids. She’s a little less baby today than she was only yesterday.  Soon, she’ll be too big, too busy for my arms.  But today, I’m rocking a princess. The early years will be filled with exploration and adventure. She’ll climb atop counters and...

Keep Reading

Dear Husband, I Loved You First

In: Marriage, Motherhood, Relationships
Man and woman kissing in love

Dear husband, I loved you first. But often, you get the last of me. I remember you picking me up for our first date. I spent a whole hour getting ready for you. Making sure every hair was in place and my make-up was perfect. When you see me now at the end of the day, the make-up that is left on my face is smeared. My hair is more than likely in a ponytail or some rat’s nest on the top of my head. And my outfit, 100% has someone’s bodily fluids smeared somewhere. But there were days when...

Keep Reading

Stop Being a Butthole Wife

In: Grief, Journal, Marriage, Relationships
Man and woman sit on the end of a dock with arms around each other

Stop being a butthole wife. No, I’m serious. End it.  Let’s start with the laundry angst. I get it, the guy can’t find the hamper. It’s maddening. It’s insanity. Why, why, must he leave piles of clothes scattered, the same way that the toddler does, right? I mean, grow up and help out around here, man. There is no laundry fairy. What if that pile of laundry is a gift in disguise from a God you can’t (yet) see? Don’t roll your eyes, hear me out on this one. I was a butthole wife. Until my husband died. The day...

Keep Reading

I Can’t Be Everyone’s Chick-fil-A Sauce

In: Friendship, Journal, Living, Relationships
woman smiling in the sun

A couple of friends and I went and grabbed lunch at Chick-fil-A a couple of weeks ago. It was delightful. We spent roughly $20 apiece, and our kids ran in and out of the play area barefoot and stinky and begged us for ice cream, to which we responded, “Not until you finish your nuggets,” to which they responded with a whine, and then ran off again like a bolt of crazy energy. One friend had to climb into the play tubes a few times to save her 22-month-old, but it was still worth every penny. Every. Single. One. Even...

Keep Reading

Love Notes From My Mother in Heaven

In: Faith, Grief, Journal, Living
Woman smelling bunch of flowers

Twelve years have passed since my mother exclaimed, “I’ve died and gone to Heaven!” as she leaned back in her big donut-shaped tube and splashed her toes, enjoying the serenity of the river.  Twelve years since I stood on the shore of that same river, 45 minutes later, watching to see if the hopeful EMT would be able to revive my mother as she floated toward his outstretched hands. Twelve years ago, I stood alone in my bedroom, weak and trembling, as I opened my mother’s Bible and all the little keepsakes she’d stowed inside tumbled to the floor.  It...

Keep Reading

Sometimes Friendships End, No Matter How Hard You Try

In: Friendship, Journal, Relationships
Sad woman alone without a friend

I tried. We say these words for two reasons. One: for our own justification that we made an effort to complete a task; and two: to admit that we fell short of that task. I wrote those words in an e-mail tonight to a friend I had for nearly 25 years after not speaking to her for eight months. It was the third e-mail I’ve sent over the past few weeks to try to reconcile with a woman who was more of a sister to me at some points than my own biological sister was. It’s sad when we drift...

Keep Reading

Goodbye to the House That Built Me

In: Grown Children, Journal, Living, Relationships
Ranch style home as seen from the curb

In the winter of 1985, while I was halfway done growing in my mom’s belly, my parents moved into a little brown 3 bedroom/1.5 bath that was halfway between the school and the prison in which my dad worked as a corrections officer. I would be the first baby they brought home to their new house, joining my older sister. I’d take my first steps across the brown shag carpet that the previous owner had installed. The back bedroom was mine, and mom plastered Smurf-themed wallpaper on the accent wall to try to get me to sleep in there every...

Keep Reading