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

Publishing May 30th!

Literary Titan: Author Interview (click here for LT review)

Instant Parenthood

APR 28

Posted by Literary Titan

Jyl CJ Barlow Author Interview

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.

Author Links: Twitter | Facebook | Website

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!