I’ve recently read a few articles urging people, particularly moms, to remember that social media is not real life, and that part is true. They then call out to share the ugly and imperfect as well, to stop trying to look like your life is flawless by taking 17 different selfies until you get the perfect one. This exhortation is usually followed by some hilarious and poignant example of how that mom did some parenting thing that was not perfect.

I cry hooey.

I know your life isn’t perfect. I know your kids cry and your dirty laundry piles up until you have to wear socks inside out.

I also know the reason I don’t share these things on my Facebook or Instagram isn’t because I’m trying to hide it or to try to look a certain way to the world.

It’s because I’m busy.

When I don’t cook I’m busy rummaging through the freezer. When my laundry is all dirty I’m busy coordinating with my husband who can do it next. When my son is crying because I make him hold my hand walking down the steps, I’m busy comforting him and trying to keep him from flinging himself down head first.

But when I finally relent and let him attempt our two front steps alone, and he does it, he does it all by himself, and he looks up at me and we’re bursting with pride and joy, that’s when I think: I want to share this with the world. That’s when I yank out my phone to snap a picture. Because that’s the moment I care to remember. It’s not that I’m trying to forget or cover up the crying that happened before. It’s that I want this grinning picture to be a bright spot in someone’s (usually Grandma’s) day.

Recently a friend posted an Instagram photo of her baby, round bright eyes turned upward, a perfect bright baby grin on her face. I know that they had just spent the weekend up and down all night, the baby’s fever spiking and receding, calling the doctor. It was a crappy weekend. Was she posting that picture to pretend it never happened?

No. It was a picture of sheer relief. It was the moment the worry finally receded enough to think, let’s share this with the world. Let’s show everyone we made it.

This phenomenon is not unique to parents, of course. Perfect hair, perfect vacations, perfect houses. These are the things posted in a Pinterest and Instagram world.

In one of my favorite pictures of myself, I am sitting in front of a castle in Italy, gazing into the hills, sunlight across my shoulders. According to my Facebook feed, I was having a glorious and picturesque time, and I was. A half hour later I was throwing up in a bush—it turns out twisty mountain bus rides and grappa don’t mix. Did I pause to take a picture? No. Because I was pretending everything was perfect? No. Because I was busy. Did my husband take a picture? No. He was busy holding my bag and worrying about what to do. Did he update his status to reflect what was happening? No. Because no one actually wants to know about that in real-time.

And so what happens to these crappy moments or the mediocre moments, which are far more numerous? For the most part, they are forgotten. The mildly crappy ones (like puking in a rosemary hedge in Italy) will become anecdotes to drag out later when they’re funny. The truly crappy ones, like struggling to understand what your melting-down toddler wants, or taking your baby’s temperature for the ninth time in a day, will fade into memory. And is that so terrible? Would anyone have more than one kid if those memories DIDN’T fade?

So, it is good to know that somewhere behind the scenes, the same crappy stuff is happening to everyone. We have blogs and forums to help us commiserate and learn how to help each other deal. But if you want to keep posting nothing but perfect pictures of your children, freshly washed and smiling and sitting still, or your new couch and perfectly clean house, or your fresh from the salon hair, go ahead. If you never want to use the hashtag #wokeuplikethis that’s OK. I don’t need to see your messy hair and dirty dishes.

I know they’re there.

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Check out our new Keepsake Companion Journal that pairs with our So God Made a Mother book!

Order Now
So God Made a Mother's Story Keepsake Journal

Jasmine Smith

Jasmine Smith is a native midwesterner who currently lives in San Francisco. She is a former cheesemonger, a stay at home mom, and a writer. You can find pictures of her perfect life by following her Instagram @jasmineannsmith

Her Future Will Not Be My Broken Past

In: Living, Motherhood
Mother and daughter hold hands by water, silhouette photo

Forty years ago, you were an innocent child. You were brought into this world for a purpose. Your innocence is robbed before kindergarten by a trusted relative. You are broken and bruised by those entrusted to protect you. You are extremely emotional in your childhood, but no one listens to understand. As you grow into your teenage years, emotions are bottled up out of fear. You lean into promiscuous behavior because that is the only way you know how to get men to love you. Because of abuse that no one took you out of, you stay around those who...

Keep Reading

Mom’s Special Recipe Means More This Year

In: Grown Children, Living
Bowl full of breadcrumbs and celery, color photo

Three weeks before Easter, my family and I stood in the hallway talking to a team of doctors whom we had flagged down. We were anxiously inquiring about my mom, who was in the ICU on life support. We hadn’t been able to connect with the doctors for over 48 hours, so it was important for us to check in and see what was going on. The head doctor began discussing everything they had observed in the scans and what it meant for my mom’s quality of life. Every word made our hearts break. The doctor continued to talk about...

Keep Reading

I’m a Mom Who Reads and is Raising Readers

In: Living, Motherhood
Mom with infant daughter on bed, reading a book, color photo

Since childhood, I’ve been lost in a world of books. My first true memory of falling in love with a book was when my mom read aloud Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. With each voice she used, I fell deep into the world of imagination, and I’ve never seemed to come up for air. My reading journey has ebbed and flowed as my life has gone through different seasons, but I’ve always seemed to carry a book with me wherever I went. When I entered motherhood and gave my whole life over to my kids, I needed something that...

Keep Reading

I Didn’t Know How Much I Needed Other Mothers

In: Friendship, Living, Motherhood
Two mom friends smiling at each other

I read somewhere the other day that when a child is born, a parent is too. In my first few months being a mother, I’m learning just how odd that sentiment is. In an instant, I became someone new. Not only that, but I became part of a group I didn’t realize existed. That sounds wrong. Of course, mothers existed. But this community of mothers? I had no idea. It took us a long time to get where we are today. Throughout our journey with infertility, I knew in my heart I was meant to be a mother. I knew that...

Keep Reading

You Have to Feel before You Can Heal

In: Living
Depressed woman in bed

“Nobody will protect you from your suffering. You can’t cry it away or eat it away or starve it away or walk it away or punch it away or even therapy it away. You have to endure it. You have to live through it and love it and move on and be better for it and run as far as you can in the direction of your best and happiest dreams across the bridge that was built by your own desire to heal.” -Cheryl Strayed How do you heal? You let the pain pass through you. You feel your feelings....

Keep Reading

To the Extended Family That Shows Up: We Couldn’t Do This Without You

In: Kids, Living, Motherhood
Family visiting new baby in a hospital room

This picture—my heart all but bursts every time I see it.  It was taken five years ago on the day our daughter was born. In it, my husband is giving her her very first bath while our proud extended family looks on. It was a sweet moment on a hugely special day, but gosh–what was captured in this photo is so much more than that. This photo represents everything I could have ever hoped for my kids: That they would have an extended family who shows up in their lives and loves them so deeply.  That they would have grandparents,...

Keep Reading

Please Don’t Tell a Couple Trying to Conceive to Just Relax

In: Friendship, Living, Motherhood
Black-and-white photo of medical supplies

This is a plea. A plea to those who know someone who is struggling with infertility. So, if you’re reading this, this is directed right to you. Please, for the love of everything, when someone tells you they are struggling to conceive, do not tell them to “just relax.” I know it’s the cliche, default term most blurt out because they don’t know what else to say. It’s awkward to discuss for some. I’m 10000% positive it is coming from a good place and is meant to be calming and reassuring, and you really do believe it’s true because a...

Keep Reading

My Husband Having a Stroke at 30 Wasn’t in Our Plans

In: Faith, Living
Husband and wife, selfie, color photo

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV) This verse in the book of Jeremiah has long been a favorite of mine. In fact, it’s felt relevant across many life events. Its simple, yet powerful reminder has been a place of solace, perhaps even a way to maintain equilibrium when I’ve felt my world spinning a bit out of control. In this season of starting fresh and new year intentions, I find great comfort in knowing...

Keep Reading

That Mom at the Playground Could Become Your Best Friend

In: Friendship, Motherhood
Young mother sitting on bench looking at playground

I didn’t realize I was that mom at the playground. That mom who always smiles at the other moms even if she doesn’t know them. That mom who often makes small talk while she pushes her toddler on the swings. That mom who strikes up a conversation while sitting on the bench watching her older kid play. That mom who can often tell whether you are interested in talking to her or not. And if you don’t seem interested, that’s okay. Because maybe you’re preoccupied with other things going on in your life right now. Maybe you’re overwhelmed with the...

Keep Reading

The Shattering Grief of Suicide

In: Grief, Living, Loss
Sad person sitting in darkened hallway, black and white image

Navigating through my second Christmas without my dad, the weight of grief seemed even heavier this year. In fact, everything felt and looked different to me. As I unwrapped the ornaments and cards he gave me over the years, a tidal wave of madness and sadness engulfed me. I know many feel sadness and grieve during these times, but let me just say . . . suicide is a different type of grief. My vibrant, happy, physically fit dad committed suicide on April 30th, 2022. There, I said it. In the aftermath, a myriad of emotions consumed me. One perplexing...

Keep Reading