Before writing her vows, Katie Musser struggled to collect her thoughts.
The 24-year-old bride from Pennsylvania, says she kept putting off her vows because she wanted them to be perfect.
“I knew I was missing something,” she tells Global News. “I was missing what made mine and [my husband’s] relationship work.”
Last week, Musser posted a series of photos from her September wedding on Facebook, including an emotional video where she read those same vows to her stepson Landon and his mother Casey.
“I always wanted to include them but I never knew how,” she continues. “I wanted people to see how important they were to me.”
In the video, Musser is seen first calling out her husband’s former partner Casey and her husband Tyler, to recite her vows.
“I want to thank you for accepting me as your friend,” a tear-filled Musser read out loud. “I promise to be an amazing mother to your son … I will guide, teach and love him every single day.”
To her stepson Landon, Musser sat down in her wedding gown to be eye-to-eye with the four-year-old.
“I will love you more than you will ever know … I love watching you grow and I will for the rest of my life.”
Musser adds the vows were a surprise and not even her husband Jeremy was aware.
“It felt like nobody was in the room,” she says. “I practiced so much so I wouldn’t cry … I didn’t even hear anyone cry, it was just a bittersweet moment.”
Bride Katie Musser poses with her husband Jeremy Wade (L), stepson Landon, his mother Casey Bender and her husband Tyler Bender (R). (Courtesy of Katie Musser)
And while the vows were a sweet gesture, Musser says the important message she wanted to share was that co-parenting can work between step-parents and children.
“It’s not about the parents — it’s about the kids and making them feel loved and not torn apart.”
Making the relationship work
But Musser adds her relationship with her stepson’s mother Casey wasn’t always so smooth. According to her Facebook post, when she first met Jeremy in 2013, Landon was only three weeks old.
“I sat in my apartment in utter shock. A million questions going through my mind. I had known him for six weeks? And his son was three weeks? Why didn’t he tell me? How do I react?” she wrote.
Soon after, when she was first introduced to Casey, Musser recalls the two hating each other. “So many stories, rumours and judgment, but what would you expect? That’s all we ever saw. That’s the norm. You don’t like the ‘other person.’”
(Courtesy of Katie Musser)
But before Landon’s first birthday, Musser says she wanted to make changes. She texted Casey a week before the party, and soon the two became friends. The went on mommy dates together and eventually told each other everything.
“The one thing we had in common though was Landon. Landon was and is the beat to our heart. The little guy who not only changed our routines and norms, but he changed us,” she wrote.
(Courtesy of Katie Musser)
“We’ve been hanging out more and more and [Landon] is getting more comfortable,” she adds. “He says ‘I love you Mom,’ to both of us and it’s not weird to us.”
Making the family work
Online, many reached out to Musser sharing their own family dynamics, as well as sending her family love.
“All four of you are so amazing. This is absolutely inspiring and I wish everyone involved in co-parenting situations matures enough to follow your example,” user Yola Ola wrote.
“Just watched this for the 5th time and cried. I love seeing posts like this, especially from someone I grew up with. This literally melts my heart and makes me so so happy,” user Aubrey Blewett wrote.
“I absolutely love this and can tell you the outcome because I was lucky enough to experience the same thing with my daughter. They call us the TogetherFamily because we do so many things as a family and my daughter has grown into a beautiful woman who has known nothing but love in her life from all four of her parents!” user Rosemarie Durando Cataldo wrote.
And while she has dealt with a number of negative reactions to her co-parenting style, Musser says the positive support outweighs the haters.
“Obviously [not all] people are going to be best friends,” she says. “But there’s a way to communicate and a way to grow up and do it for your child.”