TAMPA, Fla. — Megan Stortz and Mike Paskas were married in 2009. They had a son, but the marriage didn’t last. After four years, they divorced and they each remarried someone new, but they still had problems.
"After our divorce, we found it very hard to co-parent because we had a lot of issues we hadn’t worked through," biological mother Megan Stortz said. "We weren’t communicating in a healthy manner and when I started to see it take a toll on our son, I wasn’t like, I need to find something else to do that works."
So, Stortz reached out to her own step-mom for advice. She suggested that she send Tiffany Paskas, the step-mother of her son, a gift.
"I was scared because we both grew up in divorced families and you don’t do that, my mom and my step-mom didn’t get along at all," Stortz said. "But, I sent her a Mother's Day card and a bottle of champagne, and in the card, I wrote something like, 'thank you for being such a positive influence on my son’s life.'"
It was a gift that Paskas said she was surprised to get.
"With the gift that she sent me, I actually remember going to work and telling my co-workers that she had given me a bottle of champagne and they were like, don’t drink it, but I already did," Paskas said.
What neither of them knew was how that gesture would open a door of communication to not only better care for their children, but that it would blossom into a friendship.
"She's the best friend I’ve always wanted," Stortz said.
The two don't only love and want the best for the same children, but they realized they had a lot in common.
"It also doesn’t help that we match and do our make-up so alike so people are like holy cow you guys are a lot similar than we thought," Paskas said.
Now, Stortz and Paskas, their husbands, the child they share, plus Stortz's youngest son, started doing things together as a family of six.
They have gained a lot of interest after documenting their co-parenting journey on social media, called 'Moms of Tampa.' Their hope is to break down the stigma around step-parents and co-parenting.
"We try very hard to put the kids first, and then we are the adults who have to make the adjustments and go through the awkward phases because as children of divorce, we know what that’s like and we don’t want them to go through that either," Paskas said.