Review: Surprised by Motherhood by Lisa-Jo Baker

Jen Bradbury
Jun 19 · 5 min read

As a young child, I much preferred playing with stuffed animals to playing house with dolls. As I grew older, I had far more dreams related to careers than motherhood. It took my husband several years to convince me that parenthood was something God might be calling us to. It wasn't until after we miscarried that I knew for sure I wanted to be a mom.

Surprised By Motherhood

Because my story stands in such stark contrast to those of people who always wanted to be a mom, I sometimes have a hard time relating to gushy mommy memoirs or blogs. For this reason, I was intrigued by Lisa-Jo Baker's book, Surprised by Motherhood. After all, it's back-cover copy begins with, “Most people who talk about motherhood start out by telling you how much they always wanted to be a mom. Not Lisa-Jo Baker.”

Upon reading this, I decided this might be a book on motherhood I could relate to.

Indeed, it was.

In Surprised by Motherhood, Lisa-Jo chronicles her journey into motherhood, beginning with her own mother's death when she was 18. She talks of her focus on her career and the initial agreement she made with her husband NOT to have kids. She then shares how she ended up becoming a mom and how surprised she's been by motherhood – something I can relate to after just 28 days into my own journey as a mom.

Throughout Surprised by Motherhood, Lisa-Jo's writing is poignant and relatable. At various points, I laughed and I cried. I found her observation that “pregnancy, like marriage, is an act of courage and faith” to be especially accurate after suffering a miscarriage. As she talked about how there is no roadmap for motherhood, sharing how “We had all the equipment for raising a child but no clue what to do with either” I looked around my house at all the baby gear we've assembled over the last several months and at my daughter – less than a month old – and thought, “Yep. That's right.”

I also appreciated the astute observations Lisa-Jo makes about faith throughout Surprised by Motherhood, drawn from her own experience with motherhood. Among other things, she concludes, “I had confused faith in God with faith in what God could do for me.”

Beyond that, what I loved about Surprised by Motherhood is how it left me encouraged. Lisa-Jo reminds us that “God doesn't ask us to trade who we are for the label of 'Mom'. Rather, He builds all the courage and calling of a lifetime into a story line big enough and rich enough to encompass kids, passion, work, creativity, and dreams that don't end in the labor and delivery ward.” 

In these early days of motherhood, Lisa's words have served as a lifeline to me. I'm sure they also will for others.