Photo and interview by Angela Karen
Some people actually consider themselves lucky to grow up with double moms in their life. Can you explain what your relationship is like?
Mallory: It is absolutely amazing! It is the best thing in the world because you get double the kisses, double the hugs, double the love, and double the support. They are the best team in the world.
Brittni: I have to say our relationship is a unique one and most definitely out of the norm. We are truly a team and share all of Mallory’s moments together. We share all of the little moments all the way to the big moments.
Kelly: Our relationship is filled with love and respect. We are a team; each of us have made a choice to set an example of goodness to and for Mallory. Since Mallory has such a busy schedule, we talk or text on a daily basis and frequently we just talk as friends about life in general with the two of us. We both share the duties, responsibilities, the joys, the laughter, the tears, and the goals to make Mallory the best she can be.
What advice would you give to other parents with blended families?
Brittni: The best advice that I can give is to put the child/children first. Mallory is the number one priority for all of us. Children do not ask for a blended family, nor is it something that they want. Le’s be honest—children want Mom and Dad to be together. I have always said, I am not here to replace Kelly; instead, I am here to help support and guide Mallory in the right direction in life. A child should never feel animosity between parents. A positive co-parenting relationship is the most rewarding thing ever for a child. If this is something that you struggle with, pray. If you ask, you shall receive. Your prayer may not be answered immediately, but remain faithful and the Lord will bless you with an amazing relationship.
Kelly: I would challenge each of them to only think of the children involved and what life and future they would like to create for their children, and to make decisions and choices solely based on that. Families will be amazed how over time, their lives will be filled with so much joy and happiness for all family members, especially the children.
Is it luck or is it hard work?
Brittni: I wouldn’t call it luck or hard work. It is all in how you approach the relationship. If you have a positive mindset, the relationship will reflect that.
Kelly: I would say luck, but mostly blessed!
Co-parenting surely takes communicating and being consistent and respectful of one another. Give some examples of your co-parenting.
Brittni: Co-parenting takes all of those things mentioned. Communication is a huge part of our relationship. We share all of Mallory’s responsibilities, so we are always making sure that we are in sync on things. It is very important to us that we remain as a united front to Mallory. If we have to discipline, punishment is the same no matter which home. She understands that we are all a team and that we respect one another. It is not uncommon for all of us to sit down and discuss things with her so that she knows we are all on the same page. We want to ensure that we are providing a very secure and consistent lifestyle for her. Children need structure, and it is very important that we provide that for Mallory.
Kelly: A good example would be the times we need to discuss discipline. We all talk about what exactly took place and decide on a consequence together equal to the mistake Mallory has chosen to make. We insure that this punishment applies to both homes. Another example is when Brittni, Jimmy, and I co-parent Mallory to make good choices, have good behavior, and respect for others, especially all her parents.
What are some challenges you have had to work on and how were they handled?
Brittni: I think the biggest challenge for myself has been learning how to gracefully step into the roll of being a stepmom. The world seems to think all stepmoms are evil and that is not the case. I love Mallory dearly. Mallory has shown me a love that I have never experienced before. There is nothing in the world like a child’s unconditional love. With all of that being said, I was uncomfortable in the beginning not knowing how Kelly and my relationship would be. I didn’t know if she would be upset, mad, jealous, sad, or understanding knowing that her child loved another woman. I prayed about our relationship that the Lord would allow all of us to raise and love Mallory. Kelly and I had a wonderful conversation one day standing in a parking lot. I just told her everything that was on my heart. I needed her to know my unconditional love for Mallory and that I had no intentions on trying to be one of those stepmoms who try to replace Mom, and that Mallory talked about her all the time to me. I just wanted her to know that when she was with me, she still thought of Mommy. I am so blessed that Kelly welcomed me with open arms. I can honestly say, there has never been an ill word spoken, an argument, or anything of a negative nature between us. Now we do everything together: room moms, hair and makeup for dance competitions, doctor appointments, and so on.
Kelly: In all honesty, this relationship has all come quite easy for me. I would say the only small challenge would be trust. Trust in the relationship and how it would be for Brittni becoming Mallory’s stepmother. By that, I mean opening my heart trusting Brittni to the way in which she would love and treat Mallory. I knew almost immediately that Brittni was someone special and could see her heart and how it was growing love for Mallory. I continue to trust and the more I trust, the more good that shines from the relationship.
What are some things that you do with your daughter as a new step mom to build that relationship?
Brittni: I just make sure that I am intentional about our time together. We talk about anything and everything. It is very important for me that Mallory knows that she can always come to me no matter what the situation is and that I will help her through anything. The easiest way to put it is that I just love her unconditionally so that she feels safe, loved, and happy. I love our time together and I miss her when she is not around. We share lots of laughs together!
It is so inspiring to see how the two of you are setting an example for Mallory, to be kind, confident, and trusting. Some may even say you are both setting a positive tone for Mallory to be even happier growing up, knowing she has more people loving and supporting her. Do you all agree you hit the mom/stepmom lottery?
Mallory: Yes, I feel like I have hit the lottery bunches of times.
Brittni: Yes, our relationship is such a huge blessing! I could not ask for our relationship to be any better.
Kelly: Absolutely I have hit the jackpot! I am happy to share Mallory’s life with Brittni to give her the best future.