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While Disney World is pretty much the dream vacation for any kid (or adult), this 7-year-old’s trip was made even more magical thanks to her co-parents.
Madeline Hawkey’s parents have taken her to Disney World many times in the past, but always separately. This year, however, Maddie got a very special surprise — and it wasn’t just meeting Mickey Mouse. Maddie’s dad Joseph Hawkey and his wife Brianna Hawkey decided to invite his ex-wife Tiffany Bankert and her husband Luke Bankert to come along.
Are these guys co-parenting goals, or what?
So on March 14, Tiffany and Luke got up early and waited at the entrance of Magic Kingdom to surprise Maddie when she, her dad, and stepmom entered the park. “It was overwhelming emotionally, because I know how happy she was in that moment,” Tiffany tells Babble. “It’s a great feeling to be able to make your child feel so loved.”
Seeing that her second set of parents just so happened to be waiting for her in Disney World left Maddie speechless, jaw dropped. “She usually has A LOT to say, so it was great seeing how surprised she was,” jokes Tiffany.
Meanwhile, Joseph and Brianna were happy that they had successfully pulled off the surprise. “It was hard to keep the secret because we were so excited to surprise her,” Joseph tells Babble.
And in an effort that made this family even more unified, Maddie’s stepmom Brianna had also designed t-shirts for everyone to wear! In the classic Disney logo font, all of the parents’s shirts sported “#Co-Parenting” on the back, with their role in the family on the front — while the front of little Maddie’s shirt showed her name, with “#BestDayEver” on the back.
Yet while this outing couldn’t be more picture perfect, both parents admit it took some time to reach this point in their relationship.
Joseph and Tiffany split when Maddie was just 2 months old. Tiffany decided to move to York, Pennsylvania and Joseph eventually decided to make that move as well to be closer to his daughter. Joseph got remarried in 2012 to Brianna, and Tiffany and Luke got married after that. Although Joseph told The Huffington Post that there was “a lot of tension for a while,” the two couples eventually started to plan small gatherings together such as dinners or a day at an amusement park.
This Disney trip, however, is their first big vacation as a five-some, and it went wonderfully. In fact, Joseph and Luke even rode the Mad Tea Party ride in a teacup together!
Tiffany tells Babble that Maddie had requested to ride with her mom and stepmom, so the men were left to their own devices. “It was pretty funny seeing two grown men in one tiny teacup together!” Tiffany remembers fondly.
Both Tiffany and Joseph admit that co-parenting is no easy feat, but ultimately the commonality between any two parents is their child’s happiness. “The most important thing is to put your child first,” says Tiffany. “It’s an ongoing adjustment, but you just have to work through differences and keep moving forward.”
And while everyone loves a good Disney World pic (no reason necessary), these parents hope that sharing their story will inspire other non-married parents that co-parenting is possible.
h/t: The Huffington PostMore On