Surprised by Motherhood Every Single Day

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
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There are so many things they don't tell you when you become a mom.



Sure, they tell you about all the necessary breathing exercises for during labor, but they don't tell you how to breathe through the fiery rage that will one day burst out of you in staccato sentences when two boys take turns trying to see if they can pee as high as the bathroom shelf.

They tell you that motherhood is a high and noble calling. But they don't tell you about all those times you'll clean up diarrhea or vomit or potty accidents on your hands and knees at 2 in the morning.

They tell you entire libraries worth of How-To advice for pregnancy and the baby's first year but there are no How-To lists for the whirligig of emotions that will clog up your head and steam out your ears one day when your son is trying to explain why he nailed all those boards to the wall.

They tell you that we should love this time. That the days are long but the years are short. That you should savor every second. But they don't tell you that your children will hold a Mack Truck-sized mirror up to your life until you see every detail of your own flaws and failures and temper with horrifying clarity.


Because some days you’ve done it right— you’ve been reasonable in the face of irrational toddlerhood and you’ve bent low to meet the needs of tiny humans straining against their own limitations. You’ve reminded yourself that you’re the grownup, and you’ve tried really hard to act like it.

Some days you get it right, right up to the finish line. And then your kids soak the bathroom floor, shelf, and mirror in their newfound manhood. Or a son flings his toothbrush, dunks his head in the bathwater after he’s already in pajamas, refuses to quit asking for that one last snack— and it’s easy to let the temper pour out of you like a hot rush of lava.

And it can feel so good. With clenched fists and jaw and gut, you have a wild meltdown easily as irrational as your kids’.

These are the ragged fringes of motherhood that don’t make for pretty pictures.


These are the moments that no one teaches you about in the breast-feeding classes or includes with the instructions for putting the baby to bed on his back or thinks to write on a warning label.

This guarantee that kids will push your buttons and their boundaries, and there will be an afternoon when it is almost impossible to remember that you are the parent and that you can’t parent effectively with an out-of-control temper.

Sometimes you don’t realize you have a temper until you have kids.


Nine years into this parenting journey, I’ve learned to pay attention to my own anger.

To see how lazy my prayers have been, how haphazard my approach to helping my passionately fiery, younger son control his own anger. How my parenting had mostly been a mixture of embarrassment and frustration.

I saw how long it had been since I’d enjoyed him.

And I began to exercise my motherhood again. I stretched and bent and prayed. I fasted and paid attention and listened. I apologized and meant it. These words that can stick in the throat of grown-ups but that are like sacred, unexpected treasure when you place them in the tiny, cupped hands of your children.

And instead of floundering in the stories everyone else told me about him, I began to draft this middle boy of mine’s own narrative. I wrote it down. Deliberately.



How I wanted to see this son of mine. How I wanted to teach others to see him. I prayed, and praying was writing his story, and writing was realizing, and realizing was seeing.

Seeing the generations of temper that we had both inherited. And that I could choose to cut off. Cut down to the ground. Stand with arms flung wide between the red darkness and this boy who bears my blood and swear, “You shall. Not. Pass.”

Choosing to fight for him was choosing to fight for me and the other kids who color in the wild picture of this family and the good man who gave them to me.

I am a mother. I am a warrior. And I will go to battle for my kids and slay giants in the backyard as well as in my own heart.

I will stand guard. I will pray. I will get it wrong and try again tomorrow and the day after that. I will protect these children from myself if I have to.

And I will believe the best. I will hope the wildest. I will dare the greatest. I will make room for their stories and rewrite their histories and live the future with determined faith.

[Because] faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1.

And so today I will live most sure of the things that seem most uncertain.


Lisa-Jo's new book, Surprised by Motherhood, is her story of meeting Jesus through the three children she never expected to want. Click here to order a copy for a special mother in your life.

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