When we think of blended families, we tend to imagine a set of people who feel bitter and harbor feelings of resentment towards each other. Or at least – that’s what the mainstream media and modern society would like us to think. But such is not the case for a blended family from Texas.
In now-viral photos, the adorable Willow Mengon is seen wearing a big smile on her face as her father, David Mengon, and soon-to-be stepfather, Dylan Lenox, plant kisses on her cheeks. The photos were shared by Dylan, 27, on his Facebook account.
“No we are not a same-sex couple, but we do share a daughter,” Dylan, who is engaged to Willow’s mom Sarah Mengon, wrote in a Facebook post. He also described himself as the “bonus dad.”
“David is Sarah’s ex husband and I am the Fiancé. We have molded ourselves into one unique family, of only for the sake of our children to know the power of love. Not only did I gain a daughter, I gained a brother and a best friend.”, a part of his Facebook post reads.
Sarah – a photographer at Willie + Rose Photography – and David split two years into their marriage. Regardless of their separation, both parties ensured that Willow’s happiness would be their top priority. Sarah then met Dylan, who was introduced to Willow when she was just 18 months old. Since then, Dylan has been with them.
Sarah shares that Dylan told him that he fell in love with Willow before she fell in love with her. But the good thing is, Dylan and David quickly fell in love with each other as well.
“Dylan and David have a strong friendship,” she explains. “It’s never a competition with him and Dylan. It’s what is best for Willow. Our daughter is very loved and will continue to know what unconditional love is.”
David, who lives in New Mexico, traveled to celebrate Willow’s father-daughter dance. He also came to continue his and Dylan’s tradition of posing with their daughter. Dylan wrote that David is a big part of the family and that he is involved in every aspect of Willow’s life.
“When we care more about our children (on both sides of the party) than the way society has taught us to be towards (ex’s/baby mommas/daddy’s) then walls will fall,” Dylan continued, “life will be free of hatred and remorse, and our children will conquer the foolish “norms” that media has shoved in our faces.
He is not an outsider, he is and will always be a part of my life for the simple fact that we share the same daughter.”
David says that he drove overnight to take Willow to the dance. He also cherishes every opportunity he gets to take silly photos with her and Dylan. He says he just wants Willow to “laugh and have fun”.
Neither the men nor Sarah expected that the photos would go viral. But she hoped that the pictures will send the positive message to all blended families out there that co-parenting isn’t impossible. Dylan has a 6-year old son from his previous relationship, Sarah has her 5-year old daughter Willow and 2-year-old Tatum, who is her and Dylan’s only child together.
“I hope this inspires families to realize there’s hope to make co-parenting work,” she tells PEOPLE. “You have to put in the effort and remember to put your feelings aside and focus on what is best for your children. Show them love, forgiveness, and kindness. It’s important that we teach our children that!”
Dylan says that it is Sarah who has been the foundation of their co-parenting success. Whenever there is a chance, she always takes photos of Willow with her two fathers. Dylan says that these pictures are for Willow to look back on, and for her to see how happy they were when they’re all together.