May 1, 2014

Surprised by Motherhood - A Book Review

When I first caught the hints that Lisa-Jo was writing a book, I knew... I just knew two things right away.  
1. It would be for all the Mama's out there... and
2. I was going to have to have it. (and probably have to buy several copies in order to get to keep one for myself!)
 I adore Lisa-Jo... I read every post on her blog and the online community both at and that one that gathers on Thursday nights on Twitter for her Five Minute Friday link-up are among my favorite places to hang out on the Interwebs! 

However... Surprised by Motherhood... well, to be honest, I am sort of on the tail end of mothering a (Not So) Little Nearly Grown Girlie and I didn't really expect to be reading a book on Motherhood at this stage.  

My Little Fam circa 2011

First off - I am not in the midst of mothering Littles.  I mothered one Little and she is Nearly Grown and will be leaving the Nest soon and still... I couldn't get my hands on this book fast enough! Lisa-Jo just gets it... she gets us - and she invites us in to be real and honest and to say: Yes, it's hard.  Yes, we love it - except for on the days when we don't.  Yes, it's everything and nothing that we expected it to be. Yes, we would do it again.  Yes, we deserve chocolate... yes, yes. yes!

This is less of a How To and more of a Me, Too book.  This is Lisa-Jo's story... but really, it is all of us!

(Can you even?)

Lisa-Jo walks you through the footsteps of her life in grace and beauty... the way she describes things with words will make you ache to see, to smell, to feel it for yourself, and then - when you keep reading, you could swear that you were aching, smelling, and feeling it for yourself right in the midst of these pages.  

There is a gifting that she has that builds up and encourages... a sisterhood in motherhood that simply lovingly just scooches on over and makes room.  In her brave honesty of how she has loved and lost; how she didn't want to be a Mom and then all of the sudden she did... she was; in how she shares those wretched hard days of babies and toddler years and the raw truth of having to learn to love, and forgive, and love, and... you get it... you've probably lived it too and that is the point! 

On page 30 - only page 30 - Lisa-Jo writes it clear - this ache in my heart for the season that I am in, and she is no where near it yet! I am a Mama to an Only Nearly Grown Girlie... we are in that lovely hard transition space of letting go and leaning in... the dance of becoming less Authority, more Friend.  So when I read these words... I knew! I knew that whole book through would be filled with grace and knowing - even though she has yet to Mother through the latter years of childhood and teendom.  She wrote this:
"Mothers may want to find room to breathe, to weep, to panic. But they don't want it to end --this delivering, shaping, cheering, loving, bringing life into the world."
Amen! We don't. I don't.  I don't want it to end and here is the biggest Surprised by Motherhood reality:

It doesn't!

For better (on the good days!) or worse (on the less than good ones!) - it doesn't ever end! This Mothering that leaks out and over and fills in gaps and covers over wounds... it never ends! It has become part of who we are, it's not just what we do.  

We mother because we are Mama's. We are Surprised by Motherhood because who knew a human being could have this capacity to love so fiercly... to protect and serve... to care for a tiny (or not so tiny) human, even when we feel so unable, unworthy, unqualified? Who knew God could work through a sleep deprived, cranky post pardom Mama, and rock us all deeper and deeper in love at 3a.m.?  Who knew that somehow - having your very heart beating on the outside of you changes how you breath and move and changes what you hope for and cling to? Who knew staying up late, listening for a text or a front door while trying to remain calm and collected was a life skill that one has to practice and learn in order to get 'good' at? Who knew our own children would break our hearts time and time again and all the while, we bind theirs up, offer grace and a safe place to land, and point them to Jesus?  He knew... that's right.  He always knew!

I am Surprised by Motherhood every day - by how I know deep down in my bones that I was made for this.  Whether I am mothering my Girlie, friends, family... neighbors, strangers, readers in the Interwebs... Mothering is what comes out... it is all grace and compassion and laughter and hugs... and it is Jesus, every single time.  

So whether you are a Mom, you have a Mom, or you know a Mom... Surprised by Motherhood should be at home on your bookshelf and in your gift closet... this book needs to be given on Mother's Day and at every Baby Shower from here on out because what we must know... what we must remember is that this Motherhood thing? We don't have to go it alone!

He's got you.  We've got you... and there is room on our bench, and we'll even share the chocolate!


  1. I loved this post. I am going to be receiving Surprised By Motherhood for my birthday from my amazing sister. She asked me what I would like; so, I told her. :-) I am really looking forward to receiving in the mail soon.

    1. Jo Rose - what a GREAT birthday gift! I can't wait for you to read it! <3

  2. Anonymous1:13 PM

    I am in the season when "the dance of becoming less Authority, more Friend. " but it is so hard some days isn't it.

    1. Oh sweet Amy... it is quite the complicated dance, isn't it? With all those new moves and tricky steps? But it's worth it... stick with it, friend! We'll memorize it and be able to ad lib our own moves soon enough!

  3. Oh this and YOU are such a gift. Thank you for reading along with me and sharing and doing life and motherhood no matter what part of the spectrum we're on! So grateful!

    1. So... it's totally not stalkerish that I request you Vox this to me, right?

      We're in this Motherhood thing together, yes? This Sisterhood too... you've got my back and I've got yours because ultimately - He's got us all!

      I adore you. That is all.

  4. Anonymous6:21 PM

    I know this book will be amazing and the more reviews I read like yours makes me want it more than ever. I am at the stage that I am friends with my sons and it is a beautiful thing. Thank you for sharing so personally how "Surprised by Motherhood" has impacted you. Blessings, my friend!

    1. Oh you will love it! My Girlie is nearly 19 and she is one of my best friends. What an honor it has been to raise a human being to grow up to be so fun to hang out with! You will love this book, my friend!

  5. Karrilee, you are mother. You ooze it in love and acceptance and encouragement, and I'm so glad to call you my friend. And I love what you said about this book (I've read the first three chapters, but can't wait for more!) that this is less a how-to and more a me-too. Don't we all just need more of THAT?! I love you, friend.

    1. Yes and Amen - we definitely all need a little more "Me, too!" in our lives! And Lisa-Jo? Well - she just always manages to bring that! I love you so... looking forward to some Me, too's face to face! <3


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