Virginia This Morning appearance with Jessica Noll & Bill Blevins
Today, Jyl CJ Barlow, the author of “What To Expect When You Weren’t Expecting”, stopped by the show to share more about her new book and some of the key takeaways on the topic.
May 15, 2023
RICHMOND, Va. — Family dynamics continue to evolve with shifts in society. Today, Jyl CJ Barlow, the author of “What To Expect When You Weren’t Expecting”, stopped by the show to share more about her new book and some of the key takeaways on the topic.
Thank you so much for having me as a guest, Virginia This Morning!
Hasty Booklist is an awesome resource for lovers of books!
Author Interview – Jyl Barlow
Author of What to Expect When You Weren’t Expecting
The truth is, nobody ever dreams of marrying a man with an ex-wife and pre-made children. The reality is, it happens anyway. What to Expect When You Weren’t Expecting hilariously documents the hidden twists and turns experienced by a woman thrown into the (unwelcoming) world of step-mothering. Admittedly, Jyl Barlow’s dreams certainly did not include being inserted into a family that was still emerging from the emotional wood-chipper of a divorce. Barlow bravely shares her monumental failures and well-earned successes, all told with a conversational tone that will leave the reader feeling like they’ve found a new friend.
Author I draw inspiration from: Oh gosh, this is hard! Erma Bombeck was the first read that made me think, “this is my writing style!”
Favorite place to read a book: On a beach but most typically in bed.
Book character I’d like to be stuck in an elevator with: Laura Ingalls Wilder: Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
The moment I knew I wanted to become an author: I was 11 years old and I’d just watched our church’s Christmas Pageant, which I’d re-written from a female angel’s (Gabrielle) perspective. It didn’t hit me until much later what a big deal it was for my church to let me do this.
Hardback, paperback, ebook or audiobook: eBook first, winners are purchased and added to our library
The last book I read: Maybe You Should Talk to Someone; Lori Gottlieb
Pen & paper or computer: Computer, phone, voice recording (for all those great ideas that come while driving)
Book character I think I’d be best friends with: Jenny Lawson: Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson
Favorite decade in fashion history: The one where we got leggings … I have no fashion.
Place I’d most like to travel: I’ve been fortunate to travel to many places already! Maybe New Zealand?
My signature drink: Soda water or Malbec
Favorite artist: GooGoo Dolls (this whole interview is definitely showing my age)
Number one on my bucket list: Oh gosh, I haven’t updated it. It was “publish a book” and I haven’t really thought about what’s next.
Anything else you’d like to add: We live in a country where the majority of marriages involve some sort of blending of families, yet with very little realistic support on how to navigate them. This was the case when I became a stepmom a decade ago when I scoured the library for advice. I’ve always known I’d write a book someday but wasn’t sure about what. After working through endless trials and tribulations as a stepmom, I realized that my book was right here in my own home.
Find more from the author:
- Website: jylbarlow.com
- Twitter/Instagram/Facebook: @jylbarlow
Author Bio: Jyl Barlow is a Southern Belle with a saucy mouth navigating life as a (step)mom and a (second)wife. She is a master of hindsight with a dusty degree in communications/journalism who picked up her notepad again to keep lists of things that would make her smile (or burst out with inappropriate laughter) during times of total frustration. Jyl lives outside of Richmond, VA, home of the original “bless your heart,” with her husband, two (step)children, two dogs, three cats, and three beehives.
Literary Titan: Author Interview (click here for LT review)
Posted by Literary Titan
What to Expect When You Weren’t Expecting is a heartwarming memoir sharing your challenges and experiences marrying a man with two children and navigating the role of a stepparent. Why was this an important book for you to write?
When I was thrown into instant parenthood, I went to the bookstore and library assuming that I’d easily find a “Stepparenting for Dummies” type resource. This was not the case. When I spoke to a few counselors, the advice always leaned towards being the silent parenting partner. For years, I thought perhaps stepmothers were rare.
The further I got into my role, the more I realized that step parenting was not rare at all, that blended families were everywhere, and that we were all being given advice that was not realistic or useful.
As my family began to turn the corner from struggling to surviving to succeeding, I knew that my story would help others. It is not a blended marriage “saver,” but it does touch on many topics that I hope will make those struggling understand why they are struggling. I wanted to give those brave enough to take on this role an ally. I wanted to offer a voice that matched theirs and one that could verify a light at the end of a long tunnel.
I appreciated the candid nature with which you told your story. What was the hardest thing for you to write about?
Any time the word “fail” appears (or “tears” or “frustration” or “arguments”), you must know that I was likely writing with a pit in my stomach and minutes away from forgoing this project. Sharing that I used to hide in the shower sobbing feels like the most blatant admittance of failure, something I was not accustomed to. I have never failed over and over and over in anything – yet there I was, trapped with three people who could not handle another lost parent or wife. And later, there I was, preparing to expose all of my shortcomings to the world.
What is one piece of advice you wish someone had given you when you were a new stepmom?
It’s funny, as I’m currently recording the audiobook I’ve just narrowed down that one piece of advice: Honor History.
Honor who you are and who you were before coming into this parenting role. Make space to enjoy hobbies or activities that are truly just for you.
Honor your children’s past. Ask them about the happy times, ask about their favorite vacations or what they love the most about their biological mother. Display photos from that previous live, even if only in their bedroom.
Honor your partner’s road. Divorcing is not a happy time, often full of trauma that lasts for years (if not decades). Give your husband the space to grieve and be willing to walk him through that process.
What is one thing readers take away from your story?
Hopefully, that it will be okay in the end. And, I suppose, that the road is longer than they are anticipating. Success takes time and patience and endless do-overs. Success may look different for others than it did for me – but it will come, eventually. It will be okay in the end and when it is, much of the tumultuous times will become moments that bring the most pride.
Joslynn Flowers is not only a wonderful human, but also an expert on blended families. When choosing people to preview my memoir, I closed my eyes and sent her a copy. I was thrilled at her positive feedback and invitation to record an episode of her podcast, The Daily Stepmom.
What a great visit with the Q-Crew of North Carolina! Or, as I like to think, the first people who appreciated my strange sense of humor. Thank you so much for chatting, Mike & Amanda! Felt good to slip right back into my southern twang! If you love country music, tune into 94.7 QDR and only QDR!