+
Family

Mom and stepmom become best friends and hope to inspire more togetherness

The "Moms of Tampa" are officially besties and loving it.

moms of tampa, mom and stepmom become best friends

Meet the Moms of Tampa, winning hearts online while advocating for healthy co-parenting.

Tiffany Paskas and Megan Stortz, aka the Moms of Tampa, weren’t always the best friends that they are now. The unique story of how they became that way is catching a lot of positive attention and shining a light on how we might rethink co-parenting dynamics after divorce.

Stortz and her ex-husband Mike (married now to Paskas) share custody of their 11-year old son, Michael. At first, like many moms and stepmoms, Stortz and Paskas never spoke to one another.

Paskas explained to local NBC affiliate WFLA, “We just didn’t know it was okay to talk. We were under the impression, being children of divorce, that the ex and the new never intermingle, so it was like, best to stay away. So that’s kind of how we dealt with the first four years.”

The blended-yet-divided family lifestyle started to take its toll on young Michael. Stortz told Good Morning America that "he didn't want to express that he was having a good time at each household because he was just worried about upsetting the other house.”

Finally, Stortz decided to reach out to Paskas in the friendliest way possible—by sending gifts. It is one of the five love languages, after all.

“I sent her a bottle of champagne and a card. On the inside of the card it said, ‘thank you for being such a positive influence on my son’s life. He loves you,’ you know, just ‘thank you,’” she told WFLS.

Stortz and Paskas began “testing the waters” by sending gifts back and forth. It wasn’t until the pandemic, however, that their relationship would fully blossom. When both of their husbands got COVID-19 at the same time, the women ended up quarantining together. It was then that they discovered their shared love of makeup. Paskas, who had created her own beauty channel on TikTok, invited Megan to create videos together. Because, as we know, nothing says “friendship” quite like a TikTok duet.

Paskas’ followers took notice. And when she revealed that her TikTok buddy was her husband's ex-wife, people were eager to learn more. Inspired, Paskas and Stortz put the Moms of Tampa on social media and it quickly went viral. They even created a podcast, “From Blended to Besties,” available on Spotify, where they discuss their life together as co-parents.

If I had to guess, I’d say it was the genuine love and respect these women have for one another that helped make their channel so contagious. Just take a look at this beautiful “open letter to my son’s other mom” that Stortz posted to Instagram on Mother’s Day. It’s the sweetest.

Stortz often gives Paskas the nickname “bonus mom” rather than stepmom.

The Moms of Tampa give audiences much more than co-parenting advice and wholesome content. Above all, they offer a refreshing take on what life can look like as a healthy blended family.

@momsoftampa Lessons we learned through healthy coparenting #coparenting#blendedfamily#exwife#bonusmom @momsoftampa2 @momsoftampa @momsoftampa ♬ Dougie x Breakfast x Chosen - Kuya Magik

While their relationship isn’t necessarily realistic for everyone, it’s certainly possible if you want it to be. And the benefits might far outweigh the initial discomfort, particularly for children.

But how does someone even begin to make this happen? Fostering healthy relationships isn't exactly part of the typical curriculum, least of all nontraditional ones. The Australian parenting website Raising Children advises that a functional blended family dynamic, much like any relationship, boils down to two elements: communication and respect. Both of these qualities are evident in Stortz and Paskas’ relationship.

It’s amazing how much stronger we can become simply by coming together. Co-parenting isn’t always easy, but, as the Moms of Tampa would argue, it can be oh so rewarding.

Health

A child’s mental health concerns shouldn’t be publicized no matter who their parents are

Even politicians' children deserve privacy during a mental health crisis.

A child's mental health concerns shouldn't be publicized.

Editor's Note: If you are having thoughts about taking your own life, or know of anyone who is in need of help, the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is a United States-based suicide prevention network of over 200+ crisis centers that provides 24/7 service via a toll-free hotline with the number 9-8-8. It is available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.


It's an unspoken rule that children of politicians should be off limits when it comes to public figure status. Kids deserve the ability to simply be kids without the media picking them apart. We saw this during Obama's presidency when people from both ends of the political spectrum come out to defend Malia and Sasha Obama's privacy and again when a reporter made a remark about Barron Trump.

This is even more important when we are talking about a child's mental health, so seeing detailed reports about Ted Cruz's 14-year-old child's private mental health crisis was offputting, to say it kindly. It feels icky for me to even put the senator's name in this article because it feels like adding to this child's exposure.

When a child is struggling with mental health concerns, the instinct should be to cocoon them in safety, not to highlight the details or speculate on the cause. Ever since the news broke about this child's mental health, social media has been abuzz, mostly attacking the parents and speculating if the child is a member of the LGBTQ community.

Keep ReadingShow less

Famous writers shared their book signing woes with a disheartened new author.

Putting creative work out into the world to be evaluated and judged is nerve-wracking enough as it is. Having to market your work, especially if you're not particularly extroverted or sales-minded, is even worse.

So when you're a newly published author holding a book signing and only two of the dozens of people who RSVP'd show up, it's disheartening if not devastating. No matter how much you tell yourself "people are just busy," it feels like a rejection of you and your work.

Debut novelist Chelsea Banning recently experienced this scenario firsthand, and her sharing it led to an amazing deluge of support and solidarity—not only from other aspiring authors, but from some of the top names in the writing business.

Keep ReadingShow less

This article originally appeared on 04.15.19


On May 28, 2014, 13-year-old Athena Orchard of Leicester, England, died of bone cancer. The disease began as a tumor in her head and eventually spread to her spine and left shoulder. After her passing, Athena's parents and six siblings were completely devastated. In the days following her death, her father, Dean, had the difficult task of going through her belongings. But the spirits of the entire Orchard family got a huge boost when he uncovered a secret message written by Athena on the backside of a full-length mirror.

Keep ReadingShow less

This article originally appeared on 01.22.19


The legality of abortion is one of the most polarized debates in America—but it doesn't have to be.

People have big feelings about abortion, which is understandable. On one hand, you have people who feel that abortion is a fundamental women's rights issue, that our bodily autonomy is not something you can legislate, and that those who oppose abortion rights are trying to control women through oppressive legislation. On the other, you have folks who believe that a fetus is a human individual first and foremost, that no one has the right to terminate a human life, and that those who support abortion rights are heartless murderers.

Then there are those of us in the messy middle. Those who believe that life begins at conception, that abortion isn't something we'd choose—and we'd hope others wouldn't choose—under most circumstances, yet who choose to vote to keep abortion legal.

Keep ReadingShow less