For the past few weeks I’ve been walking around carrying Pretend Guilt. Sighing deep over pretend sins and made-up expectations. Feeling like a failure, basically, over so many Wrong Things… And yet somehow missing The Right Things.

I snapped out of this funk while reading “Little House In the Prairie,” believe it or not. Sometimes it takes a trip to a very different, very “Other” Culture for a Mama Frog to start feeling the warm water in the pot around her.

Don’t get me wrong…I very much enjoy hot showers. I love the Magical Machine In Which I Place My Dirty Clothes, exert the smallest amount of pressure with my index finger, and BOOM. Clean clothes.

I even (mostly) love the internet and the sundry opportunities it offers the Modern Mom. (Amazon Prime, anyone?)

But I’ve had it.

I am sick of feeling like a failure for stupid things. When I am not a failure.

This is my manifesto. my modern mom manifesto.

I am sick of believing that I should look like Jillian Michaels three months after having a baby. Or three years. Or ever.

I am tired of being told what matters outside my home is more important than all the Boring Nothingness that happens inside. I’m done with believing sick days don’t matter, Mondays don’t matter, summer break doesn’t matter, staying home doesn’t matter. (It all matters, when you’re loving your people.)

I am sick of being duped into believing my little ones will be little ones forever. I am DONE pretending they don’t see my mindless scrolling, my sprinting up to answer a text, my religious checking of The Device That Changed Everything.

I refuse to waste away these child-raising years in attainment of the one thousand other jobs I am told I need to be excellent at.

I’m done with believing I have to be “mom plus” to really be Someone. Mom plus a businesswoman. Mom plus a home designer. Mom plus a social media expert. Mom plus a fashion icon. Mom plus a professional Scrapbooker / shopper / seasonal entertainer / cake decorator / closet organizer / traveler / kombucha-making expert.

Goodness gracious . Did any generation of ladies before us ever feel such pressure? These women were pressing cheese curds out of milk and darning socks for the length of an entire day. The depth of the modern woman’s skill set would absolutely astound them.

I am PLAIN SICK of feeling like if I don’t update something, or post something, or email something, or keep up with 1.5 billion various people / groups / friendships / obligations, then I am behind.


I have HAD IT being told my family is not worth it. Not worth dressing up for, not worth ironing a tablecloth for, not worth saying, no, actually I can’t do that Important Event, because we always play games on Sunday night.

I refuse to believe I need to “be me” and “follow my dreams,” when true love is – has always been – to lay down your life for another.

I am not a failure for failing to reach these pretend, made-up, ridiculous multitude of unattainable goals. I am a mom. And I am enough.

I am, also, the Lord’s child. I belong to Him. He alone is my audience, my judge, my Guide, my Final Say on what I “need” to do. I am never a failure following him.

I’m a mom to my kids, a wife to my husband, the keeper of our home. And a darn good one.

The rest of it? Icing on the cake.


Jessica Smartt is a former English teacher turned homeschooling mama of three. She is the author of “Memory-Making Mom” and “Let Them Be Kids.” A week after her first baby was born, she began her motherhood blog “Smartter” Each Day. Jessica and her husband live in beautiful North Carolina, where she loves hiking with kids (mostly), steaming coffee in the afternoon, family bike rides, and anything that’s ever been done to a potato.

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