A Texas 5-year-old got a double dose of parental love recently as she geared up for a father-daughter dance.
In now-viral photos, little Willow Mengon is shown with a wide smile as her father David Mengon and soon-to-be stepfather Dylan Lenox planted kisses on her cheeks. Lenox, 27, shared the sweet pictures in a Facebook post about their blended family.
“No we are not a same-sex couple, but we do share a daughter,” Lenox wrote in the Facebook post, describing 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.”
David, who lives in New Mexico, traveled to celebrate Willow’s father-daughter dance — and to continue his and Lenox’s tradition of posing with the little girl. Lenox wrote in the post that David is a big part of the family, and 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,” Lenox 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.”
The post has been shared more than 129,000 times. David, 31, tells PEOPLE that he drove in late overnight to take Willow to her dance — and cherishes any opportunity to take silly photos with his daughter and Lenox.
“We just want her to laugh and have fun,” he says.
Neither the men nor Willow’s mom, Sarah Mengon, 30, expected the pictures to go viral. But Sarah, a doting mother of two, says the photos help to prove that co-parenting isn’t impossible.
“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!”
Lenox says that Sarah has been the backbone of their co-parenting success, noting that she is always snapping photos of Willow with her fathers.
“We have always taken pictures like that with Willow, it’s something we wanted to do for her, so when she looks back she can see how happy we were when we were all together! It’s documented, that way if her memory escapes her she can admire the wonderful photograph,” Lenox tells PEOPLE.
“Sarah is always taking the perfect pictures, the smiles may have been bigger, our princess makes our world shine brighter and I think Sarah made it possible for everyone else to see that.”