You may remember a few months ago when Princess Kate walked out of the hospital holding sweet baby George in her bespoke blue dotted dress looking absolutely gorgeous, and yet all the world could talk about was the post-baby bump. Perhaps we’re all a little too hard on ourselves, moms. We seem to expect perfection at every turn because that’s what think we see so often in the media, but it’s not real life.

Still, the real life of mothers should be celebrated, and that’s what photographer Ali Smith has done in a beautiful new coffee table book specifically for moms.

 Momma Love:How the Mother Half Lives has been endorsed by Gloria Steinem and won the Independent Publishers Book Award, and for good reason. It is a thoughtful collection of photographs and essays celebrating mothers who have been open about the struggle of motherhood but are quick to share the beauty and joy it brings to their lives as well.

Momma Love book at Cool Mom Picks

You’ll see some faces you may recognize in this gorgeously self-published book, like actress Amy Ryan and TV personality Karen Duffy, but no Photoshopped moms here. These are raw, honest stories about the experience of life as women and mothers, and the vulnerability expressed in the book is extraordinary.

The need to be perfect slipped away for me as I looked at these beautiful pictures of strong women doing a good job being moms, even if their jeans are a size or three larger than they’d like, or their house doesn’t look like it would be featured on a big design blog anytime soon.

Momma Love by Ali Smith at Cool Mom Picks

Which is fantastic. Because the real joy in life comes from the relationships we invest in, especially with our kids. Not to say that every story here is glossy and Hallmarky-happy. However as you read the diverse stories of a mom whose heart breaks because her Black sons are being looked at suspiciously for no reason; a single mom co-parenting her daughter with her gay best friends; or a mom who works around the clock day-to-day to care for a child with a debilitating illness (and dozens of other worthy stories), you really feel a connection with them.

Momma Love at Cool Mom Picks

I think that’s what we moms really need–a little more grace toward each other and ourselves. Let’s let that be our gift to each other this holiday season. -Kate

You can order Momma Love: How the Mother Half Lives by Ali Smith at for $45. Be aware there is some nudity in the photos if that concerns you. Skim through and make sure it’s your speed before sharing with friends or kids. Learn more about Ali Smith and her beautiful work through her website.