The “Real Mom” Myth

fake moms

Do you know why I love that post, that mom, that show? Because she’s real. — Popular mom view.

fake moms

Time after time I have heard and read about moms praising other moms because they were “real.”

I have read after these “real” moms and found out why they were considered real. They were praised for being transparent and real because they said the following:

I haven’t showered in two days.
My house is a wreck and there are no clean clothes to wear.
My kids live off of frozen pizza, fast food and heat and eat meals.
I yelled at my kids, didn’t teach them anything worth learning and told my husband to fix his own food.
I live for the weekends when I can see my girlfriends.
I feel trapped in this never-ending pile of laundry!
Poop, spit-up and lack of sleep is what motherhood is really all about.

Not only do they loudly proclaim the above, but then they throw in a curse word here or there to really spice things up. Or, they talk about such disgusting things that other people gag at the choice of words and descriptions while some moms roll on the floor laughing about her “realness.” Then the “real moms” mention that they had several glasses of wine to calm them down after a long, hard day of motherhood.

But, wait? Do they feel guilty for any of this?

Nope. On the contrary, they proclaim to everyone that it was a good day. Why? Because everyone is fed and alive — and they are being “real.”

Meet the “Fake” Moms

But, what about other moms? I know many moms who I consider real-life examples of moms who excel at motherhood. As much as I can tell, these moms are definitely real.

I have walked into their homes and their kids were dressed, dinner was in the oven and the mom was all smiles. I feel more than welcome in these homes and many times have chatted while the other mom sat down and nursed her baby. She was tired, but not frazzled or complaining about motherhood. However, the “real” moms call those same moms that I have come to respect and love, fake.

Many times when I have visited these moms I saw kids that had already finished school and were tidying up before their dad came home. Many times there was laundry sitting on the dryer that was washed, dried, folded and ready to be put away. ( And it will get put away, but most likely after the kids have gone to bed.)

The beds are typically made, but a little ruffled from tickle wars or kids learning how to do chores. Toddlers may be playing on the floor with blocks, and sippy cups may line the kitchen counter. It’s obvious kids live there, but the floors are not sticky and the kids are not running around naked — but those ladies are still real moms.

Oh sweet, busy moms! Please take heart and listen! We all have our short-comings, but we shouldn’t glorify them and say we are “just being real.” No, in fact we should desire to improve, and become what God considers a “real mom.”

If you are a Christian, I ask you to take a closer look at the Bible to know what God says about moms. God didn’t leave us in the dark when it comes to motherhood. In fact, he gave us some amazing examples, but I will just mention one for now.

In Proverbs 31, we read about an awesome mother. Many times we know her as the “Virtuous Woman.” But, she wasn’t just a woman — she was a mother. Do you think she was fake? Absolutely not.

What are some characteristics of the mother God calls a “real mom” who is virtuous or good?

Here are a few to consider:

Diligent
Kind
Meticulous
Caring
Trustworthy
Dependable
Frugal
Wise

If we are honest with ourselves, we would admit this is not the popular “real mom” we hear about ever-so-frequently. Nope, in fact she’s the complete opposite.

We can pout all day and claim that we can’t get our housework done and take care of our kids. We can also convince ourselves that making a home-made meal for our families is just too much work. But, I guarantee you, you wouldn’t convince the mother of Proverbs 31 that. In fact, she would say the opposite.

She woke up before her family did and made breakfast. She chose not to be idle, lazy or a time-waster. She chose to speak with her husband, children, friends and neighbors with kindness. She chose to make herself coverings of tapestry and be dressed in silk and purple — not sweat pants for days on end. She knew her husband had to look at her every single day, and she chose to be beautiful for him. In fact, she was so well-known for goodness, that her husband was known in the gates. She was a crown to her husband, and he never had to be ashamed that she was his wife and the mother of his children.

So, what do you think about the “real-mom” myths? You do have time to invest in getting a shower, getting dressed, cleaning the house, playing with your kids and yes — even cooking! If you feel pressed for time, try cutting back on your internet or TV time first. Then, consider waking up a little earlier or staying up a little later. Those simple changes will help you realize the time you do have available.

I so desire for all of us moms to make the most of this short-time on Earth we call life. We only get to be moms once, and if we mess up, there is no turning back.

I encourage you to read Proverbs 31 and see what a “real Mom” should be.

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61 thoughts on “The “Real Mom” Myth”

  1. What a wonderful article! Thank you Alison for always inspiring me to be a better mom! Sometimes we waste more time on complaining than working on the real problem, I know I do. It’s all in the time management and choices we make. I wish you and your family a lovely weekend!

    Marilyn

    1. Thanks, Marilyn! I agree. Sometimes it is easier to complain than work on the root of the problems. I hope I can encourage moms to look a little bit deeper and try a little harder!

  2. Great points and perspective. I needed to read this today. I struggle with finding balance between accomplishing everything I need to do, yet not putting too much pressure on myself to be perfect, and I seem to go to extremes in either direction (either trying to be perfect or settling for being lazy). But I don’t have to be perfect to be a Proverbs 31 woman. Thank you for the reminder, it prompts me to change my attitude!

    1. No, we will never be perfect, but we can definitely strive to be the best moms we can be! Thanks for your sweet words!

  3. Thank you for this- so needed to be said! I couldn’t have said it better myself! There is nothing wrong with doing your best and enjoying motherhood as some many posts have implied. I definitely have my weaknesses but I’m always trying to improve and thats what I should be doing! I don’t hide behinda perfect fascade but I don’t exploit all the bad things because thats not my focus in life.

  4. This is spot on! Unfortunately I find that the real mom myth can affect some moms in social circles. In one Playgroup I attend, the positives of motherhood aren’t shared much; instead, it’s almost as if moms brag about all of the failures of the past week (yelled at kids, house is a mess, etc). Anyone who shares that that they made this great recipe this past week may get some strange looks. I find myself avoiding those topics that might make me seem unrelatable, which is kind of sad I guess!

    1. Jenn,

      There are moms out there that will encourage you to thrive in motherhood. Sometimes they will encourage you with their words, and sometimes with their lives. Maybe you should seek those moms out and spend sometime with them! You need all the encouragement you can get! Hearing negative complaining all the time will only drive one’s spirit downward. Thanks for your kind words!

  5. This is great! I’m 23 so I don’t know that much moms. I see some at the daycare but I’m alwayd too shy to say something. Somehow they scare me because I always feel like they do everything better than me because they’re older and they think I’m 17 (because I look even younger than I am). So sharing parenting experience isn’t something that I do much. Thanks for the blog and the reminder to try my best instead of complaining about what went wrong!

  6. While I agree that the woman described in Proverbs 31 is certainly a beautiful aspiration, and I agree with a lot of the things you have written, I also believe there is room for grace. There will be times when eating out wins over having a homemade meal ready. The laundry will get out of control. The house may or may not get dusted sometimes. I believe it boils down to priorities. The kids come first!

    1. There’s always room for grace, Jennifer! Eating out is so not wrong, and is fun. I definitely agree that kids come first and people matter most. The Proverbs 31 mother was diligent about serving others, which included her kids, husbands, neighbors and even strangers. One way we serve our family is through clean laundry, clean homes, yummy meals and lots of cuddle and play time. Sometimes there are piles of laundry from sick days, vacation etc. But, hopefully it’s not the norm.

  7. Why does it have to be a matter of extremes? If you’re “real” you curse, feed your family junk, don’t shower and yell and if you’re “fake” you homeschool six kids, cook 3 hot meals a day and wake at 5:30 AM to exercise. I’m neither of those two mothers you describe. I’m a happy, well-rounded combination and proud of it!

  8. I am a “real” mom, but I am not ‘idle, lazy, or a time waster.’ I have a chronic illness, a son who has autism, a baby daughter, and a husband who works long hours to provide for our family. I am often tired, wear sweats, and have a messy house, but my husband and I love each other very much and we both love and care for our two precious children with all our hearts. Rather than dividing into “fake” and “real” shouldn’t we encourage one another as moms no matter our circumstances or appearances?

  9. Great post, Alison!!
    There is such pride (in a good way) when I clean the house, make dinner, homeschool Lily and feel great about it.
    Do I always have it all together? NO. But I strive to be a good steward of what God has blessed me with: my family, home, business, etc…
    Thanks for the encouragement!

    1. Thanks for your sweet words, Selene. It does feel good when things are in place, doesn’t it? We don’t always have it altogether either, but on those less than beautiful days, we are encouraged to give tomorrow a better shot! You are so right about striving to be a good steward. Our family is a gift!

  10. Most of these “real moms” blogging this way are clearly not Christian or know of Proverbs 31. The ones that like their wine and sound like sailors……
    Judge within the Church. But unbelievers? They really don’t know any better. They’re stuck in their sin, apparent from their ability to laugh at the mess of their lives on a public blog.
    If we look down on these women, what does that show them about Christ? They are thirsty and need a drink, not directions to a well.

    1. Dear Jill,

      If I meet a mom or start corresponding with her, I first start with Christ. You are right, I do not expect lost people to act like Christians. However, most of the readers of my blog say they are Christians. Whether each and every one of them is or not, I don’t know. Many of the “real mom” posts were actually written by women that say they are Christians. That is exactly why I included some tidbits from the Bible at the end of the post, in hopes of encouraging women to once again consider God’s word on the matter. With a website, you are going to have readers from all walks of life, I try to encourage them in many different areas of their life. Hope this helps explain my goals!

  11. I am a mom with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I do not have the luxury of trying a little harder to keep my house clean or cook more for my family. My messy house does not mean that I am less spiritual. My offering is like the widow’s mite. When I share online I include beautiful, funny and messy moments. No mom should feel like she if failing because she never quite catches up on the dishes. You could offer to load her dishwasher instead of thinking she can do what you do if she wants to.

  12. When I reread Proverbs 31, verse 15 jumped out at me (the part where it mentions her female servants). This woman did NOT do it all alone. She had help. I think that instead of judging other moms you should be a neighbor in the way Jesus called us to be and help them out. You don’t know what they’re struggling with, be it chronic health concerns, a non-“typically” functioning or sick child, Post Partum Depression etc. Perhaps show Christ’s servant heart and go clean their house for them.

    1. You’re right, she did have handmaidens. But have you considered that she did not have microwaves, washing machines, stores to buy ready-made clothes, dish-washers, vacuums and convenience meals? Most people today have the advantages of all those conveniences which help out immensely. The truth is, she lived back in the times when things were really dirty, dusty, no air-conditioning etc. Yet, we don’t hear her complaining.
      Amy, we all have disabilities, setbacks etc. when it comes to this motherhood thing. I won’t go into detail what it is like living in a third-world country, but it is very challenging. But everyday, I pray and ask God to help me grasp this challenge and focus on serving others instead of my setbacks. I get to see other women do the same thing, and we encourage each other to keep going! None of our set-backs should ever keep us from striving to be like the Proverbs 31 woman. Btw, I have cleaned other people’s homes to encourage them. But I also desire to give them help from God’s word on what we should strive for in motherhood and in marriage.

      1. I understand if you do not publish my comment, but I hope you will at least read it. You have just dismissed chronic illness and disability by comparing it to any other “setback” or hardship a mom might experience. This is not helpful or realistic. I was healthy once. I am not now. There is a distinct difference in how I can function. I do not serve my illness or obsessively focus on it. I focus on being the best wife and mother I can. It looks different for me than for you.

        1. Hi Rachel.

          Many of us moms face health issues that prevent us from getting everything looking like a Better Homes and Garden Magazine Home. In fact, I deal with a leaky heart valve, reactive hypoglycemia and sometimes anemia. Fatigue, headaches, palpitations, chest pains and more are all symptoms of these health issues that can make everyday life difficult. I have another friend who deals with adrenal gland issues, and another one who deals with joint pain. However, we all seek to strive to be a mom who doesn’t complain and serves her family. No, I am not dismissing chronic illnesses, but encouraging women in all circumstances to strive to help their families. And yes, our homes all look different, but hopefully each one is filled with a mom who desires to be virtuous!

          1. Thank you for sharing this. I’m sorry about your struggles and hope you can relief. Your final statement seems quite different from your original take on the issue. I feel hopeful that we understand each other a little better. I hope that we can all walk beside Christ because His “yoke is easy” and “burden is light.”

  13. Hi Alison
    I am not a mom, but I am a working wife. I really liked your article. There was something I wanted to email you about, but I couldn’t find your email address. Would you be able to share it with me.
    Thanks!

  14. Having the tidiest home isn’t the most important thing. I think there needs to be a balance. I’m reminded of Mary and Martha (Luke 10:39-42). Martha was running around doing all the domestic stuff while Mary sat at Jesus’ feet. Jesus was more pleased with Mary than Martha and even said that what she had chosen was better.

    I spent 15 years living in South East Asia. I know exactly what it’s like. I have never met a Missionary there without at least 1 “helper” (maid). How many do you have?

    1. Why can’t we sit at Jesus’ feet and serve our family? In fact, I think the more we sit at the feet of Jesus, the more we would desire to serve our family. His word always inspires me to be a better mom and wife!

      1. I’ve been accused (below) of missing the intent of this post. Rest assured, I heard the message loud and clear. I just find it is full of judgement. It lacks compassion and empathy, 2 things that Jesus had in abundance. I wanted to stand up for all the moms who are hurt and offended by your post and point out that Jesus is more interested in our hearts than the appearance of our homes. 1 Sam 16:7b For man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. Let’s follow Jesus.

        1. Dear Amy,
          If we truly desire to be like Christ and follow Him, we will believe His word and obey it. I was simply pointing out that many of today’s modern moms claim they are just being real when they show the world they have not tried to excel in their homes. I did not set the bar super high. Getting a shower, cooking meals and cleaning the house. There are many verses in the Bible that encourage us to be diligent and work hard, even outside of Proverbs 31. For instance: Colossians 3:23 “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;” As wives and moms, we should strive to give our best to our homes. And yes, the virtuous woman was concerned about her heart and walk with God. In fact, I believe that was the driving force behind her excelling in all the other areas of her life.

        2. @Amy. Who in the world said Jesus was more interested in the appearance of our homes than in our heart? This is the kind of manipulation and slander that keeps me replying. We’re sorry you were offended. That was totally not the intent, no matter how you see it.

    2. @Amy, I think you missed the intent of the post. I didn’t perceive anywhere that Alison was saying to put housework ahead of walking with the Lord. You read that into the post. The last critical comment was a snarky, personal attack. Naughty.

      1. Adam, this post was supposed to be a reply to Allison’s response to my post above about Allison’s statement about living in a third world country. I wanted to point out that I am aware of those difficulties, but also that maids are part of the package. In the interest of full disclosure, it’s only fair to ask Allison to divulge that she does have outside help to, at the very least, clean her house for her. Both she and the woman in Proverbs 31 have this in common, but sadly, many moms don’t.

        1. @Amy. There is nothing to “divulge,” For there is nothing to hide. Alison does have a lady who helps her intermittently because of the lady’s health. When she does come, this dear lady helps make lunch, sometimes babysits so we can have a date (no in-laws around here), and mops some floors that must be mopped *daily* in this over-sized house with too much open space. Actually, we are letting her go b/c of financial reasons. So, your insinuations are invalid.

        2. Hi Amy,

          Have we personally met before? I just re-read your comment and you said I need to divulge that I have outside help to clean my house for me. Wow, that would be nice. Southeast Asia is a big place, and I have visited another country in Southeast Asia that is a lot cleaner and requires less housework — it even has lots of air-conditioning and hard wood floors! I know many people here that are able to afford some full-time help around the house, but I am not. Honestly, I would trade a maid for the conveniences I enjoyed in America any day. I really enjoyed cleaning my home in air condition and vacuuming the carpet as needed. That is why I do not look at the ladies that have help, including the virtuous woman, and say, “Boy, she’s got it made!” Nope. You are comparing apples and oranges, at least for Cambodia. Even when ladies have someone to come over and help clean, they are still busy cleaning, home-schooling and cooking. What you call a maid, which implies full-time that makes beds, cleans bathrooms etc. is not what most of the women I know have here. Like my husband said, there was a lady that asked if she could work for us, and she came when she could to help baby-sit, cook some authentic Cambodian meals and sweep. It did help some, but still wasn’t like having a washer, dryer, dishwasher, carpet, insulated home etc. But again, the ladies here that have full-time help, should never feel ashamed. Help here is so cheap, like $140 a month, and the housework can be a daunting task to keep up with. Hope this clears things up and honestly, I do not appreciate you implying that I am hiding something. I am more than happy to answer comments, questions etc.

  15. Heather G. @ Golden Reflections Blog

    Hi Alison,
    Thank you very much for this! It has definitely inspired me to be better in my job as a wife and mother! While I don’t have as many children as you (just one who is 19 months), I have found myself worried more about online blogging commitments than how my house looks or how I look even. I need to remember that my husband, daughter, and house come first. Everything else is second and less important! Thanks again and blessings to you!

    1. Thanks you Heather for stopping by and commenting!
      It is so easy to think about other commitments above our family and home. It is a temptation of mine as well. I am so thankful that I can open up to Proverbs 31 and get wisdom to get my priorities once again in order!
      Blessings to you!

  16. I was just talking about this with my mother the other day! I guess it’s natural to judge other moms but I think it’s important to keep it to ourselves. I have playgroup mom friends who are the “Real Moms” (keep’n it real in their yoga pants sipping wine out of travel cups WHILE at the park) and the “SuperMoms” (those who have their kids hair done, laundry balanced, and cooked meals not out of the microwave) and honestly – good for both of them! As long as their kids are loved, Awesome!

  17. Some moms don’t have the ability to improve their mothering by “waking up a little earlier or staying up a little later.” Extenuating circumstances like chronic illness, high needs children, or husbands with PTSD exist. I have dealt with ALL of these. My home is never tidy. I am PROUD to share that with my readers cause that’s my reality and I’m not going to pretend to be something I’m not. I want to encourage moms in similar spots. Your post is highly insensitive to moms in other situations.

  18. You are judging others. Doesn’t the bible say something about that?! Yes, it does. I’m not sure your understand Proverbs 31. You are reading your own interpretation into it. She works hard at the things that she does. It doesn’t say that all the housework getting done and home cooked meals make you a Christian. Everyone has special God-given gifts. The Proverbs 31 woman used those gifts for God and her family. The picture you paint is one of perfection. It does not say she was perfect!

    1. Hi Jenn,

      Exactly what makes the picture I have painted perfect? Getting showered, dressed, cleaning the house, cooking, being kind and loving your family? That’s perfection?

        1. Aprille, those are just basics…really, just basics. We’re not talking about baking and decorating cute cupcakes, sewing costumes for a play, hosting a party etc. We are talking about basic day-to-day stuff.

          1. Basics, for you. For moms like me, I have to choose. I can’t do ALL the basics EVERY day because I DON’T HAVE THE ENERGY! Some nights I don’t cook so I can do laundry. Some days I leave laundry sit so I can “be kind and loving to my family.” Some days I simply rest and do nothing. That is my life. And I often don’t get dressed because it’s less painful to where comfortable clothes or pajamas.

          2. I can understand about not having energy. Really I can. I have sugar issues, possible heart issues and iron issues. Weakness is a part of life for me. I try to work until nap, and then crash for about 20 minutes. Even just finding a chore to do while sitting down can help. If we can sit at the computer or watch a movie, I don’t think it’s too much to ask to sit down and fold laundry. I have even used bar stools to sit/stand to wash dishes. Try to sneak in rest times, but also brainstorm about what you can do when you are sitting down. I also changed my diet and that has helped as well. Also, don’t be afraid to ask your kids to pitch in. It’s amazing what those little hands can get done! We all work together and sing as we work. I also reward my kids for doing great jobs. Our house is not perfect, but we all try to work hard to keep it going! Plus, after ten pregnancies, you HAVE to figure out how to function when you are super weak and tired. Those most important thing is we try to give our best to our family!

          3. 1) folding laundry hurts my back even when im sitting. So yes, often “too much to ask.”
            2) my son is too young to be too much of a help at three, but i’m working on that.
            3) ive already changed my diet extensively, still hasnt touched my fatigue
            My last comment was made in anger. I came to tell you didn’t have to approve it. I have resigned myself to the fact that there will be some people like u who will never understand or agree with how I live my life or run my home. I wont comment further.

  19. If that is what people consider a real mom, then I’d much rather be fake!!! I’m not perfect, yes sometimes I yell or don’t have dinner ready but I strive to be a better mom every day, I’m am NOT ok with just throwing in the towel, giving up, and saying “oh well, that’s real”….I just read a great article on catholic siestas.com on Procerbs 31 and the great worth in bring a homemaker, worth the read

  20. I accidentally stumbled across this post, and was pleasantly surprised with what I read. I’ve often run across posts detailing the “real” life, and have never liked it. I don’t always have my house clean, but, you know what? the whole family obviously feels better when I do put in the effort! Right now I’m hugely pregnant with my 3rd baby, so it’s a bit harder most days, but still doesn’t take too long to tidy up and make a good dinner, and it’s such a show of love. Thanks for the reminder!

    1. Thanks for your sweet comments! Hope your pregnancy goes well and I understand about being HUGELY pregnant! MY fifth and sixth one were so big and it was exhausting! Keep up the cheery attitude — it will help you through the tough days!

  21. Don’t get discouraged, Alison. You know the severe arthritis problems I deal with. But I still consider it important to do the basics, meals, school, basic cleaning. Some days I can barely pull off those things, others I have less pain and more energy and get more done. And my loving husband comes along side me and helps when he gets home. When we lived overseas I had a lady do occasional cleaning too. There is just way more dirt over there. :) And no dryer, etc. Always strive to do our best.

    1. I know, it is a lot of housework over here! Our yard and entire house needs to be swept everyday and it takes over an hour to wash one load of laundry, but like my hubby said we can’t afford someone extra to help right now. I just try to do bouts of cleaning in the morning, after lunch and after dinner. It works! Glad Chris helps you out! God always gives us the strength and help we need to get things done! Thanks for taking time to comment!

  22. hi Allison,
    I really enjoyed this post. I think what we’re seeking (and confusing) when we glorify “real” women is transparency. it is discouraging to hear/read/see women who appear to have life down pat. the truth is, no one has it all together (um…thanks a lot sin!) but that doesn’t mean we should accept that. striving to be better at being a mother and wife and homemaker is no different than our husbands striving to excel at work. I take my role very seriously so I seek to improve it.

  23. I discovered your site recently and really appreciate the encouragement. I view it as encouragement to reach for a higher standard, rather than judgmental. Many days when I was pregnant and/or nursing or taking care of infants I barely made it through the day because of fatigue, but I have been convicted lately about how much time I fritter away on meaningless things…the fatique is no longer a daily issue, as the kids are 3, 4, and 5. Thanks for taking time to write these articles!

  24. It’s refreshing to see a different perspective on things. I am definitely NOT a proverbs woman. We all have our challenges (like depression and back problems). These can oftentimes prevent ‘perfection’. We must remember that we will never be perfect in this life. The point is, that you humbly try to do better each day. We should all strive to be a proverbs woman in our own way, but we shouldn’t feel upset when we fall short. Because we WILL fall short.

  25. We should all try and do our best as mothers and wives. In my opinion, while you aim to give encouragement to other moms you seem to be judging mothers who don’t fit your “standards”. I agree with having a clean home and home cooked meals – that’s what I do! – I don’t judge others. We all have our struggles and blessings in life and it is not our job to make others feel bad or less than.

  26. God doesn’t expect us to be perfect. He created us and knows that we are not. I do believe that we should strive to do our very best to honor and glorify him in everything we do. Even the tasks that some others may consider menial. Raising our children to understand God’s word and apply it to our daily lives is no menial task.

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