Instant Parenthood

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

The truth is, nobody dreams of marrying a man with an ex-wife and pre-made kids. The reality is, it happens anyway.

What to Expect When You Weren’t Expecting is a memoir chronicling Jyl Barlow’s bumpy road to success as a (step)mother. Shared are the struggles of being inserted into an existing family that has yet to fully emerge from the emotional woodchipper of divorce. Jyl shares real-world lessons, not the mumbo-jumbo one can receive for the low price of a co-pay. If you are a (step)mom or on the path to becoming a (step)mom, or if you know a (step)mom, this book will serve as a sanity saver, offering endless reassurance in knowing that you are not alone in your struggle to find stability.

This memoir is for the whole family, meant to be shared among husbands and mothers-in-law and (step)children and, well, maybe ex-wives. What to Expect When You Weren’t Expecting offers readers a greater understanding of just how difficult it is for (step)mothers to dive headfirst into a role in which they are typically not welcome.

About Literary Titan

The Literary Titan is an organization of professional editors, writers, and professors that have a passion for the written word. We review fiction and non-fiction books in many different genres, as well as conduct author interviews, and recognize talented authors with our Literary Book Award. We are privileged to work with so many creative authors around the globe.

Posted on April 28, 2023, in Interviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.


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