When Mashonda Tifrere’s book Blend dropped this past fall, she celebrated in style—think: Champagne, music-industry A-listers, and a towering custom cake set against the splendor of Donna Karan’s Urban Zen event space in lower Manhattan. There were impromptu bursts of song (from Tifrere herself, along with her friend and son’s step-mother Alicia Keys); there were plenty of festive cocktails and lavish snacks and desserts. But revelry and glamour aside, the heart and soul of the party was the message of Tifrere’s tome devoted to peaceful co-parenting, and inspired by her own experience with divorce from her son’s father (the musician Swizz Beatz, who penned a chapter on fatherhood) and establishing a positive relationship with his new wife, Keys (who actually wrote a foreword to the book).
“The book started out as a series of journals. I started to journal everything from the moment I had my son and I journaled about being a mother. Then, when my marriage started to dissolve, I started to journal about what it felt like to go through that separation and then it went into divorce,” Tifrere—who has a longtime background in the music industry as an accomplished singer and songwriter—says of Blend’s origins, which stemmed from her own divorce with Swizz Beats. After feeling hurt and confused as she navigated the separation, she also knew she had to find a way to co-parent with her son’s father and his new partner, Keys.
“I literally had an epiphany one day: ‘This needs to be a book!’ Because I was looking for books to help me get through what I was feeling and I couldn’t find anything, specifically about healing and getting through it, but also about trying to figure out a way to work with the new woman involved,” Tifrere says. “I got to a point where I really wanted to understand my relationship with Alicia.”
That desire for understanding and common ground, for the sake of healing and for the best interests of the children involved, is at the core of Blend. Over nearly eight years, Tifrere worked on perfecting her message, sharing her journey, and thinking about what separated parents and new co-parents really needed. The end result is a book that’s true to her original mission of helping parents going through a divorce or separation to be open to healing so they can blend their family in balanced way with any new adults in the equation.
“The primary mission [of Blend] is opening people up to the fact that, if they just allow themselves to feel and let go of the hurt and the pain that they struggle with after a divorce or a separation, they can move forward and heal, and provide an emotionally and mentally healthy future for their children,” she explains. “[Having a blended family] means peace of mind; it means a level of open communication that would not be possible if we did not trust each other, and didn’t feel the need to protect our family and give our children what we consider a true chance at living a healthy life.”
If any proof is needed that Tifrere, Swizz Beatz, and Keys have developed a loving and balanced co-parenting partnership, it was right there in the room on the night of the Blend book launch. The family was all smiles as they posed for photos—there were hugs, laughs, and happy tears. Most notably, Tifrere and Swizz Beatz’s son Kasseem was on hand to celebrate his mom, and it was obvious how proud he was.
“He was there—he watched me go through everything and he witnessed the writing part and he’d go to sleep and be like: ‘Okay, are you going to go write now, mom?’ He knew what I was doing for a really long time,” Tifrere says. “So for him to see [the book] manifest, his mind was blown, especially when he saw it at Barnes & Noble, because that’s our favorite store. When he walked in there and saw my poster up and books all over the place and my picture—he just couldn’t believe it. And he wrote a letter in the book to himself, so he’s in Barnes & Noble too, and he’s pretty excited about that.”
At the end of the day, Tifrere hopes readers will turn to her book as a tool to set themselves and their kids up for peace of mind and a road to happiness.
“The first thing would be to tell [readers] would be to open their heart and try to put all the pain aside for a moment and think of your child and the future of your child—and also think of yourself, and of your healing and your peace,” she says. “I’d tell them to get in tune with their ego, and really learn how to check it, and to understand the difference between operating from that place of ego and operating from a place of love. That means to allow yourself to be more vulnerable and those are the first ingredients to truly being able to co-parent and blend and create a new, healthy relationship with your ex.”
To learn more about Mashonda Tifrere, visit theblendedfamilybook.com!