When Brittney Johnson’s daughter Payton was only 2 years old, Johnson took her to a playground to do one of the most difficult things a mother can do: She took her to meet the woman that she’d be sharing Payton with — Kayla Imhoff, her ex’s new girlfriend.
But unlike many stories that start out with the same scenario, this one never followed the dramatic storyline you might expect. There was no path fraught with jealously, anger, or competition. There weren’t even a few bumps along the way.
No, in this story, Johnson came to love Imhoff, as well as the role she now plays in Payton’s life — and she admitted as much in a Facebook post she shared last week that’s since gone viral.
With over 70k likes and 32k shares, people are loving Johnson’s fresh perspective on sharing her daughter with another woman, and when you read her words, you’ll understand why.
“To all of the mothers out there who throw a fit when another woman treats your child as her own: Why isn’t that exactly what you want?” Johnson’s post begins. “I prayed one night for the type of woman my daughter’s father would be with, knowing that she would be raised in two homes.”
And by all accounts, her prayers were answered.
Johnson goes on to thank Imhoff for the role she plays in Payton’s life, saying: “Let me tell you, I’m raising a strong girl, a smart girl and a sweet girl. And I want nothing more than for her to be surrounded with role models who are exactly that. You’re a true role model and an amazing bonus mom and we are so proud of you!”
Speaking with Babble, Johnson explains that although meeting your child’s potential “bonus parent” can be unsettling, she was determined to go into it with an open mind. “My first impression of Kayla was that she was sweet, and brave for deciding to meet Charlie’s daughter,” she says. “Being in a relationship with someone who has a child can be daunting; knowing that things can get complicated. I think it takes a special person to decide to stick around anyway.”
And although it took some trust building in the beginning, Johnson knew that Imhoff wasn’t going anywhere, and that made it easier for her to accept.
“My child is my world, and when I realized that Kayla’s interest was to treat Payton as her own, it was actually a huge relief for me,” Johnson admits. “You worry about the kind of people that your child will meet or look up to, or how they will be treated when you aren’t around. But once I knew that she was well cared for even when I wasn’t there, it got a lot easier.”
Both Johnson and Imhoff agree that their relationship is unique, to say the least. (“She is literally the sweetest person I have ever met!” Imhoff tells Babble.) But whatever they’re doing, it seems to be working.
“We have become close friends,” says Johnson. “We consult each other on everything and we make decisions together. We talk about her school, plans for the holidays, and discipline. We both take off work on Payton’s birthday and have a girls’ day with her, and we also each give the other person space to have a close bond with her.”
When asked what makes their co-parenting situation smoother than it has been for many other women, both agree that it all begins with the perspective you choose to take.
As Johnson explains:
“I came into it thinking ‘if my daughter loves you, then I do too’. And my advice to other parents in similar situations is to ask your child what would make them happiest; if they want to spend time with both of you, then let them do it. Embrace that there’s a bonus parent who loves your child, because they are not your competition. Every person deserves love, so don’t take someone away from them out of bitterness, envy, or hatred. Show them what love is and how to treat people so they never doubt that they are loved.”
Imhoff clearly couldn’t agree more. Now two years later, she views Payton as her own, and urges other potential “bonus parents” to go into it with an open mind.
“It’s never easy for someone to put their child in the care of someone else; especially a birth mom, so always take her feelings into account,” she notes, adding that if you can’t put the child first, then that isn’t a relationship for you.
“If you’re co-parenting, and seeing your child doing things like this doesn’t bring a smile to your face, reconsider what’s truly best for your child,” notes Johnson, in her now-viral Facebook post. “Payton has more people to love her this way, and what more could a mother ever want for her child? It takes a village to raise a child, and I happen to love mine.”
Well done ladies — you are truly an inspiration to co-parents everywhere.