i met Lisa-Jo on a Friday afternoon in a small cubicle inside an office building in carol stream.
she was sitting on pages in my boss’s office. she was one of many, and when i got to her at the bottom of the pile. she was hiding behind a cover letter from one of our editors. a note that said you’ll fall in love. a note that promised the world like any good cover letter. behind that was Lisa-Jo.
she took my face in her hands and she looked me in the eyes and said this is my story, is it any good?
she gave me three chapters of her life that day. three chapters that brought tears to my eyes and made me want to hug all my moms as quickly as life would allow. i shot my mom a text, and hugged my mother-in-law a bit tighter the next time i saw her.
Lisa-Jo speaks for all moms. she writes the words that we all need to hear. the ones that say this ain’t easy, but it is so worth it. the ones that say i see your screaming kid that wants out of the cart, and the one that is into all the ice cream, and the other one that just took off down the aisle toward the cookies. i see them and i see you mom and it’s OK. you are amazing. you are loved. and you are doing the work of a superhero.
her words are the hug that every parent – mom or dad – needs on a daily basis.
i took her proposal and i did what no sensible twenty-something sales person ought to do, and i e-mailed the entire sales team:
I am a 24 year old boy. I have a 27 year old wife, and I have friends all around me that are either planning to or already are popping out babies. I am ill-equipped and unprepared at the daunting prospect of bringing life into this world.
I need this book.
I sat with Lisa-Jo. I saw that she has a blog and I went to it and while it’s busy and loud and annoying to my man-ish sensitivities, I liked what I read. Back into the proposal I went, past our own Lisa’s sales pitch, past the factoid-ridden proposal, the Ann Voskamp praise, and the lofty comps. I ignored the financials, and dove into the foreword.
And then the first chapter. And the second. And the third.
I need this book. My wife needs this book. My mom needs this book. My sister, my best friend’s fiancé, my small group, my church. The world needs this book.
There are a million books in the parenting genre and I have no interest in any of them. I want nothing to do with some stranger telling me how to be a good parent. But Lisa-Jo’s no longer a stranger and I have ten more chapters to go.
For what it’s worth, this young man wants this book more than any other proposal that’s come through. I’m probably overstepping a boundary and butting in where I don’t belong, but when I was overwhelmed and felt tears coming, I had to tell someone, anyone, everyone.
somehow, Lisa-Jo got this e-mail, and for some reason she thought it’d be fun to dialogue with this twenty-something punk. she invited me to her internet home and we shared mashed taters and tea.
and then she shared the rest with me. chapters 4-13. she shared the process and the struggle. she shared what it means to be a mother and what it means to be a friend. she let me take the journey with her, something i never thought would happen as a salesman.
today, april first 2014, is my twenty-sixth birthday and it is the day Lisa-Jo’s book – surprised by motherhood - goes out into the world for the first time.
to me, this is a serendipity. a non-coincidence. an affirmation that i was and am a part of something special. something that takes that tattered superhero cape off of moms everywhere, throws it in the wash, irons out the wrinkles and puts it back on the shoulders it belongs.
Lisa-Jo graciously provided the pictures of Zoe and her book among the tea and crayons. the picture of her was taken by her friend Mallory Macdonald - word on the street is that Mallory is pretty talented.