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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.

Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Democracy

Appalachian mom's speech on Kentucky's proposed abortion ban is a must-hear for everyone

Danielle Kirk is speaking up for those often overlooked in our cultural debates.

Canva, courtesy of Danielle Kirk

Appalachian mom gives passionate speech.

Many people felt a gut punch when the Supreme Court issued its decision on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned the decades-old Roe v. Wade decision that protected a woman's right to an abortion. However, for some this was a call to action.

Danielle Kirk, 27, a mom of two and an activist on TikTok, used her voice in an attempt to educate the people that make decisions in her small town. Kirk lives in Kentucky where a trigger law came into effect immediately after Roe v. Wade was overturned. Being a former foster child, she knew she had to say something. Kirk spoke exclusively with Upworthy about why she decided to speak up.

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Memories of childhood get lodged in the brain, emerging when you least expect.

There are certain pleasurable sights, smells, sounds and tastes that fade into the rear-view mirror as we grow from being children to adults. But on a rare occasion, we’ll come across them again and it's like a portion of our brain that’s been hidden for years expresses itself, creating a huge jolt of joy.

It’s wonderful to experience this type of nostalgia but it often leaves a bittersweet feeling because we know there are countless more sensations that may never come into our consciousness again.

Nostalgia is fleeting and that's a good thing because it’s best not to live in the past. But it does remind us that the wonderful feeling of freedom, creativity and fun from our childhood can still be experienced as we age.

A Reddit user by the name of agentMICHAELscarnTLM posed a question to the online forum that dredged up countless memories and experiences that many had long forgotten. He asked a simple question, “What’s something you can bring up right now to unlock some childhood nostalgia for the rest of us?”

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