In part 1 posted yesterday, I talked about the big breakthrough in my motherhood journey. How two years ago, God reached down and reminded me in a desperate moment that He would always be strong for me.
The next morning I discovered Lisa-Jo Baker.
At that point, she still went by The Gypsy Mama. I can’t remember which post I read first, but through the blurry haze of my first refreshing ugly cry on her behalf, I added her blog to my Google Reader (RIP) because she showed me that the messy equation of soaking soiled onesies, eating cold dinners, and feverishly typing work with one hand added up to something beautiful. Something I could be proud of. A purpose that requires a lot of bravery and comes with so many more honors than “just a mom” could ever do justice.
Two years later, when I found out Lisa-Jo was coming out with a book, I pre-ordered it immediately. Barnes and Noble sent it a few days before its April 1 release date, and I gobbled it up in a day. Surprised by Motherhood isn’t a story of an unexpected pregnancy like some may believe by the title. It reveals the hope and beauty of a role that gloriously can’t be predicted and requires always staying on your toes.
The book tells Lisa-Jo Baker’s story from a child growing up in South Africa to a motherless girl of 18 who swore she’d never have children to a fulfilling international career to the redemption she found in changing her mind about kids. She’s honestly one of the best writers I’ve ever come across, sometimes reading like a Toni Morrison novel but mostly like she’s translating sheet music directly from the deepest truths of the mama-heart in ways the mind couldn’t otherwise comprehend.
She reminds readers that, whether working mom, stay-at-home mom, work-from-home mom, blue mom, green mom, women have the tremendous capacity to love children intentionally and still have goals and dreams. That women whose dreams have always only been to have children are just as brilliant and brave.
I love her story for the same reason I loved literary realism in undergrad — her descriptions bring magic to my parallel life in an encouraging, inspiring way. Because buried in the dishes piling in the sink, staring at the grocery store tile with a fistful of 3T cotton, and brushing out tangles are the milk-drunk smiles, whispered “I love you, Mom”s, and creative expressions of a huge, individual personality packaged in a tiny body you helped to create.
It’s above all, a story of hope and encouragement. A glimpse of wholeness and holiness in the imperfection. I’d give it away to all of my friends if I could, but for now, I’m giving away one copy. It was snatched out of my mailbox less than a week ago, gently read by appreciative eyes, and you can find out if it’s yours on Friday! Here’s how: