Surprised by Motherhood

Surprised by Motherhood

I was never one of those girls who dreamed of becoming a mom. I mean, I always assumed I would eventually, but it wasn’t a dream of mine. It was more of a practical thought—down the road I’d do the mom thing.

Which is one of the reasons I resonated so much with my friend Lisa-Jo’s new book—because it’s not every day the author of a book on motherhood admits that she never wanted to be a mom. The title says it all, and describes very much my daily experience with three young people who share my roof.

These are my words in the first few pages, and I still agree with them: “I was surprised by Surprised by Motherhood—not because I didn’t already know that Lisa-Jo is a brilliant storyteller and writer, but because I thought I was done with books about motherhood.”

Surprised by Motherhood

I first read the book a few months ago, and I simply couldn’t put it down, Lisa-Jo’s gift of weaving words left me so raptured. In fact, just in writing this post I started reading the book again and had to force myself to stop so I could go ahead and hit publish (I’m probably back to rereading the book by the time you’re reading this).

In particular, her admittance of her middle son’s wild difficulty helps me—well, admit my middle son’s will difficulty as well. LJ tells the story of falling in like with him, that she, “liked him so much I could hardly breathe. I just sat in that room between a toy tiger and a radio playing softly and stroked the sweaty forehead of a nearly four-year-old and let the like keep filling me up, all the way to overflowing.”

Surprised by Motherhood

Surprised by Motherhood

I want to write like Lisa-Jo when I grow up.

But until then, Surprised by Motherhood is now my go-to book for mama gifts (also coupled with Faith-Based Parenting for first-time mothers). If you’re a mom, have a mom, or know a mom, you have a reason to have this book in your life—either to read or to give.

Which means you’re in luck.


Lisa-Jo wants to give three Art of Simple readers* a copy of Surprised By Motherhood AND a Daily Grace tea set. Um, hello, Mother’s Day gift?

Surprised by Motherhood

book and tea

To enter, simply leave a comment on this post, telling us why you’d love to win! (If you’re reading this via email, please head to the post directly to comment.)

This giveaway will end this Friday, April 18. I hope you win!

• US residents only, unfortunately… sorry about that.

Because you mother.

Tsh Oxenreider

Tsh is the founder of this blog and just finished traveling around the world with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

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  1. Lauren Stacey says:

    I would love this book! I have my own wild child that stretches me and occupies my thoughts at all hours of the night. I would love to read a positive approach to mothering and loving these unique little people.

  2. I’d love to win because I’m interested to read the stories in this book

  3. Wow! I love the sound of this book and would love to read it to give me another point of view on motherhood. It seems we are all a little (or a lot!) surprised by motherhood no matter what we thought we would think! Thanks for this post!

  4. As a mom of 18 months old baby, being her mom is my favorite thing to do in life, and I also love reading about the experience, so I really want to win! 😉

  5. Your post completely nails how I feel about motherhood. Like you stated so clearly, I too didn’t dream about being a mother; just assumed I would do that some day. However, it has become my world and more fulfilling than I ever dreamed. “Surprised by Motherhood” sounds like a book I can relate to.

  6. Sounds like a book every mother should read.

  7. I’m only 3 months into motherhood, but I am definitely surprised by it- in a mostly good way 🙂 I’d love to read the book!

  8. I’d love to read this book! I share the same feelings- in fact it was my husband. Who convinced me to get going with starting our family 3 years ago. Now with a son and a daughter, I tell people all the time how profoundly surprised I am by how much I enjoy motherhood… Even the tough parts. Thanks for the giveaway!

  9. Melissa D. says:

    Looks like a great read!

    • I would love to read this book! I always wanted to be a mom but actually becoming a mom was so much different than I expected.

  10. Danielle says:

    Sounds like a terrific read. We are starting to plan a family and it sounds like a must read for me! Thanks for the giveaway!

  11. Oh, what a sweet video about this book. Made me cry! I am in the thick of young mother-hood and would LOVE this book! Thanks for doing the give-away.

  12. Katherine says:

    I always wanted to be a mom, and then I became one, and it was totally different than I expected. Sometimes good, sometimes difficult, always different.

  13. Rachel H says:

    I would love to read this, cause being a mom is the hardest and most beautiful thing I’ve ever done. And I will take all the help and encouragement I can.

  14. This book sounds like the perfect gift for one of my dearest friends, who is a first time mama. I would live to win and give it to her.

  15. Sounds like an amazing book! I love being a mom but need all the encouragement I can get!!

  16. I would love to win a copy of Surprised by Motherhood. I am a mother to an 11 and 12 year old and this job never gets any easier and is all consuming. I would love to hear another woman’s experience as personal narratives are one of my favorite types of read. It probably doesn’t hurt that I drink a couple of cups of tea a day!

  17. I never wanted to be a mom. Not in the someday I’ll do it way but in a I have a short temper and don’t’ like kids way. Now I have 2. I still struggle with my temper. My oldest is strong willed and my youngest wild. But I have fallen in like with them. (The love is automatic, the like not so much.) Motherhood provides my proudest moments in myself. Motherhood provides my most shameful moments. Everyday I get up, I tell them I love them, and start again.

  18. The trailer had me tear up, the book is definitely on my wish list. Motherhood is such a beautiful privilege, but a complex one, and I’d love to read the perspective offered in book.

  19. I am in the midst of this season with a 3 and 5 year old, potty training a toddler and a puppy! This would also be perfect book for our moms group.

  20. The book sounds beautiful, but I hadn’t jumped to get it, either. I think I’ve thought I was done with books on motherhood, too. Thanks for sharing, and for the offer.

  21. I think this would be so helpful for my mamahood journey.

  22. I’m due today with my 3rd baby. I’ll have three little ones under 3.5 so I think anything that encourages me in my motherhood would be great!

  23. Marshalene says:

    As a mom of 3 little boys I need all the help mothering I can get. I would love to win this book and we have a sweet little niece that we would love to pass the adorable tea set on to. 🙂 By the way, I love your blog and it has inspired and encouragede many times. Thank you! 🙂

  24. I would love to win this set to give away to my sister in law. She is a new mom! I remember how hard that first year is, and how encouraged I was by the words of others ….mothers who had traveled the road before me. I would like to give her that same gift, words to help along the way. Thanks and much love to all the mothers out there 🙂

  25. I want to win! I always wanted to be a mom but continue to be surprised each day by its challenges – and continue to believe it’s the most challenging, most beautiful thing I’ve ever done.

  26. This book sounds amazing!

  27. Miriam B. says:

    I want to read this book because I am incredibly apprehensive about becoming a mom.

  28. What a blessing it would be to have this as an encouragement as I journey through motherhood!

    • I’m so terribly lonely and desperate for friends, but I have no idea how to make them. I’m contemplating whether I’m brave enough to invite random women from my church for a Surprised By Motherhood book club and mother’s day tea. I haven’t decided. But if I win, I can’t think of a better way to use them.

  29. I’ve read a couple reviews of this book, it sounds like a book I’d love to read. I’d love to win it.

  30. Kristi M says:

    I keep hearing about this book. It sounds wonderful!

  31. I’d love a little surprise perspective in my mothering right now of 4 girls 🙂

  32. Erin Lynn says:

    I love this site and am grateful for the mothers insight. I have two under 3 and I would say I’m more surprised at my emotional response to motherhood. I thought it would be blissful all the time. And I’m struggling either with exhaustin or seasonal affective disorder. But I’m ready to have fresh perspective on raising my two blessings and discovering my new self.

  33. Sounds like the kind of book I won’t be able to put down, would love to read it!

  34. I would love to read this book! I have three daughters, and they are each wonderful and difficult in their own ways. I would love to hear another mom talk about how it feels to a sometimes reluctant parent.

  35. Danielle says:

    I’d love to read this book because my middle son is also my greatest challenge and I need to find kinship.

  36. I have been reading Lisa-Jo’s blog for a little while now and every single time I read one of her posts I tear up. She is so gifted at communicating the complex feelings of motherhood and encouraging mothers at the same time. I can’t wait to read her book!

  37. This book is on my “to-read” list and I would love to win a copy! I’m excited about reading even more of Lisa-Jo’s parenting wisdom.

  38. Would love to win! I LOVE the little people in my world!! I have a boy and a girl, 9 years apart, and they act as if they have 2 separate sets of parents. It’s so amazing to watch their different personalities and dispositions. I would love to read other peoples stories.

  39. I would love to read this book. I had always wanted to be a mother, but my journey there was nothing like I expected. And once my son was born I was definitely very surprised by motherhood!

  40. I would love to win because I am struggling. An honest book about motherhood would be helpful right now.

  41. I’d love to give this as a gift to my sister-in-law, a new mom!

  42. I would love to read this book after reading your posting! It sounds like something I would really enjoy.

  43. Sarah ramsey says:

    I would love to win since I had always felt the same way but now as a mom of two boys I am constantly surprised by motherhood:) I would love to read her words and stories:)

  44. I too have myself a wilder middle child, and sometimes it is just refreshing to read of others stories instead of the books that tell you how to handle that. I LOVE her so much and would love to glean from others journeys how to seek to enjoy every little thing with my kiddos 🙂

  45. Nina Martin says:

    I’d love to win because I’ve recently become a mother again to a 6 year old boy through adoption. Mine are 15,13,10,6. After Jesus, Motherhood is my life!

  46. The tea set is so pretty. I’d love that. I’m not sure I can identify with the message of the book, as motherhood is something I longed for and fought hard to attain.

  47. Michele Laramay says:

    I would love to win because I don’t have a very large book budget, but would like to read this and then share it with my friends.

  48. Sounds like a great read!

  49. I cannot wait to read this book! It seems like a book that all moms should read- there are aspects to motherhood we are all surprised by- and knowing that connection has helped me get through some days!

  50. I could use some Mama refreshment 🙂

  51. I’m always on the lookout for a good book, especially parenting books as they inspire me to be a better parent. Your review makes this one sound very interesting!

  52. Betsie Pendarvis says:

    I would love to win this for my daughter. She is a wonderful mom to her foursome, but could always use inspiration and refreshment. (And I could read it when I babysit! ) And time out for tea is such a treasure.

  53. Tara Wilson says:

    I would love to win this. I often struggle with motherhood and feel I could relate to this book so much.

  54. With baby #2 arriving shortly, I know I’ll need the encouragement amidst the sleepless nights to remind me again of why I wanted to be a mom!

  55. I’d love to win this because I feel like the season of motherhood I am in right now is very trying. I’ve been reading tons of things on the season of having littles and finding encouragement in them.

  56. I would absolutely love to read this book. Your first paragraph describes me, and here I am with three young children, sometimes wondering how I ended up here… I’ve had this book on my list from the first time I heard of it.

  57. This books sounds fantastic, I think as parents it’s always good to get another perspective so I am very interested in reading it, thanks for sharing!

  58. Megan M. says:

    This book sounds so inspiring. I would love to read it and, of course, the tea set is lovely, too.

  59. I keep hearing good things about this book!

  60. I would love to win this book. It sounds very encouraging and refreshing.

  61. I’m a pastor’s wife and homeschooling mother of four. I would love to have another tool to give to first time moms who are unsure of the fulfillment children can bring to their lives.

  62. I would love to win this gift of the book and tea set! I, too, never thought motherhood would be something I would enjoy so much. But with a four year old daughter and a newborn son, I can’t imagine my life without being a mother! It has brought me so much joy and love, even though it’s the hardest job ever.

  63. I’m days away from having my first child & I’ve been waiting to get this book once my baby girl is born! Lisa-Jo has taught me so much about motherhood since I started reading her blog almost 2 years ago!

  64. I’d love to win this book. I too never dreamed if being a mom. The idea actually scared me – and now I’m a mom of four kids under the age of 7… and some days I’m prettified by the fact that they are mine and it’s my job to raise, love, nurture ab grow them into who God created them to be.
    I must admit that my journey into motherhood hasn’t been all rosey. Shortly after the birth of baby #1 our lives got turned upside down due to immigration and we quickly found ourselves moving from Asia to Colorado to start life… we now just feel like we are getting our feet on te ground. A fiend who knows my journey recommended this book – on my ‘want’ list 🙂
    Thank you for sharing!

  65. I’d love to win! I never wanted to have kids either but now have 3 almost all the same age (2 are adopted) and love it. They are just so much fun.

  66. If this book is anywhere near as inspiring as the video clip, I can’t wait to read it!

  67. As a fellow mom who was surprised by motherhood, I would love to win this book. I know it would be an uplifting, encouraging read and I would benefit greatly from her words. 🙂 Thank you for this opportunity !

  68. Carin Cathey says:

    As a mom of 4 (17-9 yrs) I always enjoy a fresh and honest take on mommyhood 🙂

  69. Great giveaway! I’m always excited to learn about books to encourage and inspire me in my journey of motherhood. *fingers crossed!*

  70. I would love to win this book. I too thought I was done with motherhood books, but I love a great story and this sounds so unique.

  71. Mom of 5, ages 11, 8 1/2, 5, 2 & 6 weeks. 2 years ago, I left a very successful career to stay home with my children. 1 year ago, I pulled my oldest 2 out of public school and began homeschooling them. My life has certainly evolved in a way I never expected. Any book that helps me relate to others and certainly any regarding motherhood is always welcome. 🙂 thank you!

  72. I have the opposite problem. I dreamed about being a mother and it isn’t what I pictured. It’s still wonderful in all the cliche ways. I can’t picture my life without my crazy child and my toddler, but it is much more difficult than I imagined it would be!

  73. I would love to read this book. I love my little ones (6 and 3) and am surprised daily at how much I not only love them, but also like them and the range of feelings I have about them as individuals. This is a great giveaway!

  74. This book sounds fantastic! I can’t wait to read it.

  75. Melissa Webb says:

    Sounds like the book is full of something I might need to hear at this point. To be reminded of some things.

  76. I am intrigued by your description of this book. Your first paragraph could have been my words too, but is something I’ve never said out loud. Surprised by Motherhood truly sounds like it’s one-of-a-kind. Would love to win a copy and find out what’s inside. The tea set is just adorable too! I think my daughter and I would enjoy some special tea times with this set.

  77. I have 5 children and like you I feel like I’m done with ‘mother’ books. It is nice to be intrigued by a book again. I would love to read this one.

  78. Thanks for the honest review! Sounds like a great read! I will add it to my wishlist. 🙂

  79. Betsy Kunz says:

    I watched the video and the book looks awesome! I’m a mom of 2 kids. One I had when I was 27 and the other when I was 37. My youngest, a son, has been much more challenging and that’s been a little harder at a my age. I can’t wait to read the book.

  80. It sounds great!

  81. sounds like a good read!

  82. And I thought I was the only one! Motherhood has taken me by surprise almost daily! Why would this “creature” look to me for guidance, when I’m still trying to figure things out for myself. And then I had more, what was I thinking?! Now I have a gang that can turn on me at any given moment! Oh the joys of motherhood!

  83. Brenda Turner says:

    I’m the mother of two and the grandmother of four, and I would love to share with my daughters!

  84. I would love to win this book & tea set – reading a great book with some warm tea is awesome! I find myself surprised, so many times, to look around me & realize I am a homeschooling mother of 5 children. A surprise indeed!

  85. Amy Cottrell says:

    I would love to win! I want to read the book and what better way with a new tea cup filled with tea 🙂

  86. I would love to read this book! I loved my job and didn’t want kids at all until I met my husband, and then we decided we would only have one child … Much to our surprise, we got pregnant with identical twin girls our first time trying to conceive. Here we are 4years later (they turn 4 in 12days!) and I’m a stay at home mom, even keeping children for my friends while they work too … To say the least, this unexpected rollercoaster of parenting has been more fun and full of love than I ever knew it could be!

  87. I have a toddler and am expecting a baby in a couple months, so I think this book would be beneficial to me in those first crazy months of adjustment! And tea is so soothing to the soul!

  88. Stephanie Gates says:

    Sounds like a wonderful book! I had my oldest when I was really young and always thought I would have been content just having one child. But something changed in my heart, I longed for more children and wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. I feel so blessed to have three amazing girls!

  89. Andresa J says:

    I would love to win for a good read for myself. And then passing it on to my sweet friend. ❤️

  90. I have read snippets of her book and love her style of writing. I would absolutely love to read this book!

  91. I would so love to win this giveaway. While I always knew I wanted to be a mom, motherhood turned my world upside down when it actually became a part of my life. Getting pregnant just three weeks into marriage, I never quite felt like I was ready to become a mom just then. Five years later, I wouldn’t change my motherhood reality…although, I am continually surprised by motherhood over and over again!

  92. Michelle Y says:

    I need all the encouragement I can get! And I love tea too 🙂

  93. I feel that life is one happy accident. I never dreamed of getting married or having children. I didn’t plan or hope to fall in love. I was happy living life young and free until the day I met my husband. That’s when I dreamed of little girls in my life. I was blessed with two.

  94. Hi! I tried to order Surprised by Motherhood on amazon but it’s 2-3 weeks out for delivery… Anywhere else I might be able to find it? I have three under 4 and have been needing some mom inspiration these days. Winter has been too long 🙂

  95. my middle boy is a wild one as well. the book looks great…

  96. I am a longtime ready of Lisa-Jo’s writing and I so enjoy her encouraging spirit! I would love the opportunity to curl up with her inspiring words and a cup of tea while my two little girls nap in the afternoon. Sounds like the perfect Mother’s Day treat. <3

  97. I would love to have this book because while we are trying to have a child, I am terrified of being a mom. Before I got married a couple of years ago I had decided to be a successful single woman, then my friend of 6 years stole my heart, we got married and he said he didn’t want to have kids. I was fine with it, now he wants at least one and I don’t know how I feel other than scared. I think that reading a book like this about parenting (rather than all those out there that are about how hard it is) may help me.

  98. Our oldest is 16 and youngest is 8 and yet I’m often surprised as we enter new stages of growth. And, they are all different, so even though we may have already been through a particular stage with our oldest, the 2nd born may approach the same stage in a whole different manner. I’d love to read the book myself! But, there are three mamas in our midst due with babies in the fall. I’d love to pass on the book and tea set to one of them to enjoy!

  99. I love to read other mothers’ reflections on motherhood.

  100. Could always use some uplifting words about motherhood for those days that seem more draining than fulfilling! And a cup of tea is always nice for a book reading! 🙂