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Single mother hails ex's girlfriend as 'an amazing bonus mom' to her daughter

Brittney Johnson has taken an unusual approach to co-parenting: by befriending her ex's girlfriend, whom she describes as "true role model."
/ Source: TODAY

It’s never easy to blend families. There are countless stories of drama between mothers and their exes’ new girlfriends. But Brittney Johnson is taking another route, penning a thank-you note to a woman she refers to as her 4-year-old daughter’s “bonus mom.”

In a Facebook post that’s gone viral, Johnson, who lives in Columbia, Missouri, begins by addressing moms who get upset “when another woman treats your child as her own.”

“Why isn’t that exactly what you want?” the 27-year-old single mom asked, noting her ex-boyfriend’s partner, Kayla, “has been a gift of so much more than I could have hoped for.” She notes that Kayla Imhoff, 22, has shown her daughter, Payton, how to work hard and stay up late to study for a test, ride her bike and make mac and cheese — all while trying to finish nursing school.

“You’re a true role model and an amazing bonus mom and we are so proud of you,” she wrote on July 12. The post has been liked more than 90,000 times and shared more than 45,000 times so far.

“I think the biggest thing for me was to realize ... that Kayla wasn’t my competition,” Johnson told TODAY. "In situations like these, a lot of times, there’s jealousy or keeping score. … Once I looked past her label, it made it easier for her to become my friend.”

Brittney Johnson and her 4-year-old daughter, Payton.Courtesy of Brittney Johnson.

Of course, it wasn’t easy. Johnson recalled meeting and introducing Imhoff to her daughter for the first time about two years ago at a local park. “Her and Payton hit it off immediately,” Johnson recalled. “And at first I was a little intimidated. It was scary. I didn’t know if Payton would like her more than me.” She added, “But I could tell she was really dedicated to get to know Payton. There’s been a few difficult conversations, but at the end of the day we are on the same team as Payton and want what’s best for her.”

Today, Johnson, Imhoff and Payton frequently spend time together. When Payton turned 4 years old, the three went out for lunch, shopping and fun at an indoor play gym.

“Our relationship isn’t normal to most people, but it’s our normal,” Imhoff — who lives about 30 miles away from Johnson in Jefferson City, Missouri — told TODAY. “We get along great and I consider (Johnson) one of my really good friends. It makes me feel so good that she trusts me with Payton.” Imhoff said that Payton’s dad, Charlie Swarzentruber, frequently jokes to them, “You gotta get me out of here. I’m sick of the lovefest.”

Charlie Swarzentruber poses with girlfriend Kayla Imhoff and his 4-year-old daughter, Payton.Courtesy of Brittney Johnson.

In recent years, similar thank-you notes from mothers to their exes' new girlfriends have gone viral, like this one in Virginia and this one in Florida.

Johnson, on Facebook, ended her post with a message to those who are struggling with co-parenting: “Reconsider what's truly best for your child. Payton has more people to love her this way, and what more could a mother ever want for her child? Being best friends with me AND being best friends with Kayla, is exactly where P deserves to be.”

She added, “It takes a village, and I happen to love mine.”