A single mom joined her ex-husband for a special marriage proposal to welcome a new stepmom into their blended family.
"I got to video my ex-husband propose to his girlfriend. So special," Leah Bourdo, 39, of Richland, Michigan, wrote on a TikTok video with more than 5 million views.
The video shows Leah's ex-husband, Steve Bourdo, kneeling to propose to his thrilled girlfriend, Shonda Betz. Leah and Steve's daughters, Kennedy, 13, and Harper, 11, present their new stepmom with a bouquet of flowers and a card while the family embraces.
"This weekend I got to be there when my ex-husband proposed to his girlfriend," Leah Bourdo wrote as a caption. "She is the kind of woman I have prayed would come into his life. She is incredible with our daughters, and they love her so much. Not only is she good to our girls, she respects the co-parenting relationship we have for our children. On top of that, she has become my friend, my family even. I love her with all my heart. And to my ex: Thank you for letting me be a part of this moment and sharing her with me."
"Welcome to the home team Shonda," added Leah Bourdo. "We love you.”
It took therapy and time apart for Leah and Steve Bourdo, college sweethearts who tied the knot in 2007, to get here.
"Our marriage was a living hell," Steve Bourdo, 38, tells TODAY.com. "We were young and very emotionally immature."
Leah Bourdo won't argue with that. "There was a lot of verbal abuse, and I was active in my alcohol addiction," she tells TODAY.com. "We were two best friends who never should have gotten married in the first place. The romance and connection that you need in a marriage wasn't there for us."
The former couple finalized their divorce in 2016.
The split was hard on their children, who volleyed between their family home and Leah Bourdo's "small, grungy" apartment, she says. "It was a lot for them."
For the first four years, Steve and Leah Bourdo blocked each other's numbers on their phones and communicated through email and Leah Bourdo's parents, as she worked on her sobriety. Their daughters felt the tension.
Steve eventually remarried, and Leah says that she did not get along with his new wife. When that marriage ended two years later, Leah and Steve made a breakthrough.
"The only way we could make it work is to prioritize our children and put aside our feelings for one another," she says. "We were able to forgive each other."
"Any time you hate somebody, you're only hurting yourself," says Steve Bourdo.
When Shonda Betz entered their lives one year ago, she brought even more harmony.
"I am in love with his fiancée," says Leah Bourdo. "She is one of the most beautiful people that I've ever met in my life. Everything just changed with her."
Leah Bourdo recalls the moment that sealed her affection for Betz: She and her ex-husband had reduced Kennedy's cell phone privileges, and during a family meeting-, Leah Bourdo was impressed by Betz's input.
"She was able to explain things in a way that I couldn't and empathized with our daughter," she says. "I could tell that she really loves my girls."
According to the former couple, Betz respects their unusual and evolving co-parenting agreement. “We don’t really go by a custody agreement; we go by what we think is best,” says Steve Bourdo, adding that the girls alternate spending seven days with each family.
Living a 6-minute drive apart, the two families carpool together for the girls' sporting events, help each other out in emergencies and make a "team effort" for school runs. "We make it work," says Steve Bourdo.
Steve Bourdo bought an engagement ring in December. Last week, after he and Betz returned from a trip, Leah Bourdo offered to bring their daughters over so they could witness the proposal.
She asked to film it. "People have asked if Shonda was bothered but she thanked me for being there," says Leah Bourdo, who stayed out of the footage to allow the new family their space.
Steve Bourdo said his ex-wife's presence "didn't really cross my mind" adding, "I was so wrapped up in the moment with Shonda and my daughters that I kind of forgot about it. It was a natural thing for us."
The family received some negative TikTok comments, but most viewers love their perspective on healthy divorce.
Betz has invited Leah Bourdo to go wedding dress shopping, although Leah Bourdo says she won't be in the wedding. "That would be pushing it."