So I wrote this book called Surprised by Motherhood.


It comes out on April Fool’s day. Because that is the story of my life. You can click here to pre-order it.

Yesterday I got my first copy. And in case you think that writing a book looks like a cross between something out of a Pottery Barn catalog and a Smoky Mountain getaway, allow me to share what yesterday looked like.

My potty trained daughter peed a lake on her bedroom rug. On purpose.

I dropped an entire tray of chicken nuggets onto the floor while trying to navigate them into the oven.

One kid helpfully got down on hands and knees to grab them out from behind cabinets and under ledges. He neatly placed them back on the tray. Along with a hair ball or two.

I still cooked them.


My daughter refuses to wear anything other than pajamas. For over two weeks now. So I loaded her, her pajamas, one son and one neighbor kid into the minivan to go pick up my other son. All while the nuggets were still cooking.

When we got back in the ice and snow there was a package propped up against the garage door. Just behind the garbage cans. My oldest son brought it inside, but first stopped to pick up the remains of one of the toy guns my husband had accidentally driven over that morning.

Both boys declared the chicken nuggets disgusting. And refused to eat the cucumber or the carrots either. Both still wanted dessert.

But first they prayed a lyrical prayer over me and the new book. {After getting angry that the sibling right before them, “took myyyyyy prayer, what I was going to sayyyyyy, mom.”}


At 10:40pm my daughter was still awake. Because I’d let her nap till 5:30 that afternoon.

It totally wasn’t worth it.

I tripped over my own computer cord and having lost at laundry roulette the day before I finally remembered to switch the wash over to the dryer. Only a day or so late.

It took the boys nearly an hour and a half to finally, finally go to bed and stay there.

But then I sat down with this book.


The book I wish I’d had nine years ago when no one would admit to me how hard motherhood is.

And I read this, and I thought of you:

I remember being embarrassed at sixteen. I remember being the last girl to start shaving her legs or wear a bra or figure out eyeliner or successfully navigate any of a whole host of other coming-of-age changes. And I remember how my mom would hold me and how soft and comforting it was to be pressed against her bosom. She’d chuckle and tuck my hair behind my ears and smile her crooked smile and tell me, “Oh, my darling, once you have babies, nothing will ever embarrass you again.”

That truth was slow in coming. It had to burrow its way into my life, between the leftover college parts of me that liked to be beautifully put together and the insecurity of seeing a scrubby reflection of myself in some other young mom’s eyes. Jackson grew me up and out of myself more thoroughly than any church service or youth camp or volunteer project ever could have.

Some days I still miss the Lisa-Jo I used to be. But those days are rarer than they were when Jackson was just a few months old. Like a pair of saggy old jeans on a Sunday afternoon, the word mother fits me more comfortably now. But there were days under the lilac jacaranda when I shook my head and couldn’t understand how I’d lost myself in the wash and spin and rinse and repeat of new rhythms I couldn’t find my groove in.

But that’s because the breaking up can be a slow process. And it takes time till you can keep time to a cataclysmic new beat. It takes courage to say no to yourself and yes to someone else. Over and over again—days, weeks, weekends, years, and trips to Chuck E. Cheese’s on end. The way it gut-punch takes your breath away with the sheer shock of the change.

So I spun and spun in dizzying circles until sometime just before Jackson turned one, there in the distance I spotted the small unremarkable speck of who I used to be.
And I waved.
As the dance swept me on.

And then the day – the long, long hard, weird, wriggly, exhausting day melted into one of the most beautiful I can remember. Because I am still being remade. And I am not alone.

We are in this thing called motherhood, all dancing and spinning together.

One chicken nugget at a time.


{Click here to download a copy of this print}

{Click here to tweet it: The glory of motherhood comes camouflaged in so much chaos #SurprisedByMotherhood}

So tell me now, what surprised you about motherhood today?