Rebecca Eckler’s newest book chronicles the hard truth of what it’s really like to make a blended family.
Blissfully Blended Bullshit is a witty, engaging, refreshingly candid chronicle of a modern family’s journey as they blend households. We follow Eckler as her partner and his two children move in with her and her daughter. Then, thanks to a reverse vasectomy, they add a baby to the mix. Readers go along for the ride in this poignant, often hilarious tale, as everyone attempts to navigate their new roles: the children, the in-laws, the exes, the ex-in-laws, and even the dog.
Lighthearted and intimate, this is an indispensable story about a family determined to make blended splendid, and the juicy truth of what it’s really like behind closed doors in what is rapidly becoming a typical family makeup. Still, if Eckler had to blend again, would she?
About the author
Rebecca Eckler is one of Canada's most popular journalists and writers. She has a weekly parenting column in The Globe and Mail, and her work has appeared in such publications as Elle, Fashion, Chatelaine, House and Home, Mademoiselle, The Los Angeles Times, and The New York Times. She is also the founder of ninepounddictator.blogspot.com, and writes a blog for sweetmama.ca. Eckler’s bestselling books, including Toddlers Gone Wild and Wiped!, have been published in Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, Hungary, and Turkey. She lives in Toronto, Ontario.
Excerpt: Blissfully Blended Bullshit: The Uncomfortable Truth of Blending Families (by (author) Rebecca Eckler)
Where the fuck is my confetti? Where is my celebratory dinner? Oh, right. I’ve forgotten about the less-than-thrilled response I received from some members of my blended family when I told them I’d signed a book deal. I suppose breaking the news that it was about them might have had something to do with that. They didn’t seem overjoyed that I was going to write about the cold, hard, uncomfortable truth of what really happens behind the closed doors of blended families. Welcome to my life. Even before I sat at my computer to compose my thoughts on what this book would look like, certain members of my blended family already had their backs up, wondering what the hell I would be writing about and, of course, how they would be perceived. It’s not that they weren’t happy that I’d got a book deal. They just weren’t exactly enamoured with what they thought, or assumed, I was going to share. They were anxious. And, honestly, they should be.
I was “gently” advised by my partner to “be cautious” when writing about all of us — all of us being myself, my partner and his two biological children, the son we have together, and my daughter from my first common-law marriage. One big happy-ish family! I felt like a child being told to think before I speak. I “gently” reminded him that I’m a grown woman. So, no, there was no dinner, no champagne toast, not even dying roses from a gas station in my honour when I got the go-ahead to tell my story about what it’s like to be in a blended family.
It’s a story worth telling. Holy shit, have my experiences opened my eyes, not just to the gargantuan reality of adjusting to life in a blended family, but also because of what I’ve learned about myself and relationships while blending. You kind of get a crash course in reality when trying to manage all the bullshit that comes along with this rapidly growing family dynamic.
Sometimes what happens in a blended family really is stranger than fiction. The fights and slights can be so ridiculous, I’m not sure anyone would actually believe me. Which is why I’ve never truly shared, nor have I found any book out there that can commiserate with me about what a shit show it is to be in a blended family.
This is not a memoir about being a step-parent or having stepchildren or the step-parent–stepchild relationship. Not that I don’t touch on it. But this is more my account of how blending families affects everyone, including people you’d never consider, like our exes, or our ex-in-laws, our new in-laws, and even the dog.
The truth about blending families can be fucking harsh. Those who haven’t gone through it and are dating others with children, are thinking about blending, are embarking on blending, or are just curious about what it’s like to blend families probably just figure it’s an … adjustment? Perhaps a process to learn, a path to travel, a mountain to climb, a field to plant, a knot to unravel, a Coen brothers movie to fully understand. In other words, a difficult but seemingly surmountable challenge.
Ha! Challenge. Living it, I’d probably use a much different word. Every single one of us in my blended family has our own perception of our roles in each other’s lives and in our blended household. We may all live under the same roof, but our experiences are totally different and can even be contrasting at times. Our truths may have discrepancies and may even have zero basis in reality. Everyone else’s sense about what it’s been like for them to blend is a reflection of them, just as my reactions while blending reveal a lot about me.
My family — the kids, the grandparents, the Boyfriend, and the exes — know that honesty and candour are my MO. This memoir is my truth, and, unfortunately, truth can sound an awful lot like criticism. Some people — yep, I’m gonna go there — can’t handle the truth. Or, at the very least, they would prefer to ignore it than to admit and confront it. Believe me, I’ve been on that side, too. But I know my truth from talking to others in blended families — some successful, some not so much, some not at all — and comparing notes to see if I’m just batshit crazy, or if they could relate to a lot of the bullshit I’ve found comes along with blending. I mostly know about the bullshit of blending from living it, from being honest about the way I feel in certain situations and the way I think everyone else feels in my blended family, and, also, from the hundreds of texts and email exchanges over the years with the cast of characters in my blended family. Thank you, iCloud!
So, yeah — blah, blah, blah — the truth will set us free. But first it will piss someone, or everyone, off. Or, who knows? Maybe everyone in my blended family will let out a huge sigh of relief that it’s not just us who thinks navigating our new roles is a bit of a shit show. Maybe they’ll even have a good giggle. What screws most of us up is a picture or the fantasy in our heads of how a family is supposed to be, how we are supposed to treat each other, and how we are supposed to look. I hope that when my family looks back on the most difficult times, we’ll also remember the awesome memories we’ve created and continue to create. I know I will. Even for all of our scars and bumps and bruises and imperfections and missteps, it hasn’t all been all bad.
There is one thing I’m pretty sure we’d all agree on, though — and I do mean just one! The process of blending families comes with a considerable amount of bullshit.
Still, knowing that the people who have been in my life now for years — the family I’ve gained after blending and as we continue to blend — are, for lack of a better word, perturbed over what I’m going to write kind of stings. I’m not going to lie. I’m legit hurt by their lack of enthusiasm.
So, okay, I don’t exactly have a cheering section. There is no confetti. No bouquet — flower, fruit, balloon, or otherwise — in my future. But maybe, just maybe, this book will be like blending families: completely unexpected, with some WTF, but also a whole lot of, “Oh, really? I hadn’t thought of it that way!” My family need not fear that they will come off looking like assholes while I come across all roses and rainbows. Quite the opposite, actually. Many times I’m the one who comes across as the schmuck. Many, many times, my dark, jealous, resentful side surfaces, and often my feelings are completely irrational and immature, to the point that it horrifies even me.
But I’m not one to shy away from sharing my account of the hard truths, the less-than-ideal realities, and all the bullshit I was completely unprepared for by blending. I wouldn’t be me if I held back. So I don’t plan to.
Another totally entertaining and relatable read by Rebecca Eckler. As a blended family survivor, I had a visceral reaction to so many of the anecdotes. It is real and it is uncomfortable. This book is a must read for anyone considering (or living through) blending worlds.
Joanna Track, Founder and Executive Publisher, TheBullet.ca
A touching and telling modern love story between husband and wife and mother and daughter and the balance of all the relationships in between. Eckler weaves her story of vulnerability and painful truths to reveal the unfiltered reality of blending families. With her raw sense of honesty and self-awareness, Rebecca Eckler provides an invaluable human approach. This is a valuable and eye-opening read for anyone contemplating a life of blended and splendid.
Daniella English, Founder of thenotsosinglelife.ca
With her fearless voice, Rebecca Eckler takes us on her soul-baring journey of blending families, navigating the laugh-out-loud moments and heartbreaking realities with her trademark unapologetic honesty.
Samantha Bailey, author of Woman On The Edge